Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Title: Fortune's Pawn (Paradox, #1) 

Author: Rachel Bach

Rating: 4 Stars

Rupert is the worst aspect of Fortune's Pawn. And not even the character Rupert, but his name.

I don't know about you, but when the name of the love interest is just about the only flaw you can find within a novel then that's a damn good book you've got there.

I've had Fortune's Pawn on my TBR ever since Wendy first reviewed it over at The Midnight Garden, making me jump for joy at the thought of a well-done science-fiction novel. It seemed too good to be true. While the reviews for the conclusion to this trilogy had me wincing and re-evaluating my decision to pick up these books, the influx of positive reviews for this first installment wore down my air-thin resistance.

I am so glad they did.

Devi is the backbone, protagonist, and true star of Fortune's Pawn. Not only is she physically strong and kick-ass, but her mental strength is admirable as well. Only upon reading a novel narrated by a confident woman--one who freely admits she's attractive and goes above and beyond to be treated with the respect she deserves--is it all the more evident that the majority of books out there lack a truly feminist character like Devi. Alongside her intelligence, quick wits, and clever jibes, Devi is compassionate and always the first to mentally scold herself and pick herself back up from the lows in her life. What makes her such a remarkable heroine, though, is that fact that she is flawed--and embraces those flaws. She knows she's ambitious and reckless and acts before she thinks and though she suffers for these mistakes, she also steps up to the plate and acknowledges that these traits are here to stay and deals with that. Instead of trying to change herself or improve her personality or rise above society's standards, Devi is comfortable just the way she is in her own skin which is such a remarkable change to find in a fictional heroine. I love her.

When our tale begins, Devi is looking for a fast and easy way to become a Devastator--one of the King's elite guard--and thus, joins Brian Caldswell's ship. It's meant to be a cursed aircraft, with a high death toll, but if Devi survives for even just one year, she's almost guaranteed to achieve her dream. Being as qualified as she is, Devi gets the job easily and, at first, the ship seems to be her tamest job yet. In fact, her only bright spot in the midst of the lack of danger is the handsome cook, Rupert. Soon enough, however, Devi begins to realize why Caldswell's ship has the reputation it does and, what's more, she slowly uncovers that things are not as they seem on this spaceship. Rupert, the cook, isn't the innocent civilian he seems to be; Ren, Caldswell's strange daughter, may not be entirely human; and Caldswell himself, a reputed trader, may be far more than he claims. Devi, as a simple merc and security guard aboard the ship, knows she shouldn't investigate further into the true goings-on of Caldswell's business, but curiosity only ever killed the cat--and that, Devi most certainly is not.

You'd think a science-fiction novel with actions scenes spaced out through the narrative would lose traction when its protagonist wasn't battling foreign aliens, but that isn't the case with Fortune's Pawn at all. Devi's time spent on The Glorious Fool, her relationships with the ship crew, and her blooming romance with Rupert are all just as engaging, if not more. It's hard to find time to breathe in-between this narrative because of its fast pace, but you'll hardly find me complaining. Bach manages to infuse plenty of depth alongside her action, making for the perfect combination of a debut novel. What's more, despite the fact that we don't know too much about the true motivations of the secondary characters in this novel, they still manage to come alive on the page--particularly Rupert. It's difficult not to fall for Rupert's sweet, calm exterior and the dangerous secrets he harbors only make him all the more alluring. Even when he makes decisions on Devi's behalf--standard angst-y issues such as pushing away the one he loves--Devi never lets him live it down, which makes for a relationship truly established on equal footing. It's different, it's romantic, and it feels authentic--which is more than I can say for most fictional romances.

Granted, Fortune's Pawn ends off in a slightly abrupt--and slightly cliffhanger-y--spot in the sense that readers are going to need the sequel on hand, but seeing as all three books in this trilogy are already released, this is hardly a complaint; just a caveat. Bach's debut is truly flawless; executed perfectly, written impeccably, and guaranteed to entertain readers of science-fiction. With original world-building, alien species attacking spaceships, and plenty of secrets to fit into the crevices of our minds, you can't go wrong with Fortune's Pawn. Just try it; I dare you.


  1. I LOVE the sound of this book but as someone who is starting to develop a strong fear of the final instalments in trilogies (can you blame me??), I am slightly worried about whether or not I want to dive in.

    I love the sound of Devi since I always admire characters who are comfortable in their skin (my favorite kinds!) and I LOVE that Rupert is a cook (a little shallow of me but who cares? :P).

    Either way, I am adding this to my list and will probably give in to temptation the same way you did.

    Lovely review, Keertana!! :)

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

  2. Hehe. Rupert is definitely not a name that makes me swoon, but I agree, if that's the biggest flaw the novel has, then this one is a winner for sure. I don't read too much science fiction, but every time I do I fall in love, so I'm adding this to the list. Good to know all the books are out already so the cliffhanger ending of this one won't be an issue:) Beautiful review as always!

  3. Ooo this is the first I am seeing this one and I love the way it sounds! Great review and thanks so much for putting this one on my radar. :)

  4. Oh that book, I heard so many great things about it and I think I should try it but I'm quite anxious because I'm not that much into sci-fi.

  5. The cover is so not calling to me, but yes I have heard it's awesome :D

  6. Oh, Keertana! I truly understand what you mean about great science-fiction - it's so rare to find a good one nowadays! x) I'm glad that you found this book and very enjoyed it! Devi sounds like a wonderful kickbutt heroine! We really need more of her in books. :) Amazing review, hun! :)

    I have neutral feeling about Rupert name, but I remember reading Graceling and cringed at the hero name 'Po'. Why does it have to be 'PO'. JUST WHY. :P

  7. Rupert. God, that name. Still kills me. But wasn't this a fabulous story?!? I loved Devi and the actiony action definitely didn't muss with the story. Yeah, a bit of a cliffie and I had to read the next one immediately...then the third. So good.

  8. haha I'll agree the name Rupert is pretty terrible!
    And yay! I'm so glad you took the time to read it AND that you love it (I figured you probably would!).
    Devi is a fantastic protagonist for all the reasons you said here. I just love how unapologetic she is for being herself, in particular.
    I really should get on reading the second installment soon, as it is a pretty brutal cliffhanger here. Soon, I hope!

  9. hahaha I'm the same Keertana. I have certain names that just don't do it for me, no matter how hard I try. But Rupert isn't that bad, I've had much worse :/ this book sounds amazing though, and I'm glad that you can jump right in to the next two books! Lovely review as always! :)

  10. I remember Wendy reviewing this one and her review convinced me to add this one to my wishlist. I haven't gotten around to reading it yet but I'm glad you did and loved it. Devi sounds like a female heroine I'd definitely root for and I love that the romance comes off as authentic.

  11. With the exception of the ending, this sounds fab! I might have to just put this one and the next one on my wishlist. I already know I'll want to know what happens next with that kind of ending. :p

  12. Somehow, I completely missed this one, and your review is the first I've heard about this book. Crazy, I know. After reading how much you loved this one, I immediately added it to my TBR pile. I'm not usually into science fiction, but this one sounds like it's a must read. Amazing review, Keertana! :D

  13. I haven't read (or even heard of) this one before, but I like the sound of it. Science fiction is my thing, and though the ending is a cliffhanger…I'm thinking this will be just for me! Lovely review, Keertana!

  14. Devi sounds like an awesome protag, Keertana! I'm happy to hear you enjoyed her so much. The name Rupert doesn't bother me, but it can be distracting if the name is an irritant. Most of the time, though, when I fall for a character I forget any prior associations I had with the name. I'm going to check this series out. It's especially nice that all books are released! Excellent review as usual! :)

  15. I've heard so many great things about this series! I'm a total sucker for female assassin/thief/mercenary characters, but they're usually pretty foolhardy. Good to know that Devi thinks things through and weighs the consequences of her ambition!

  16. Uh-oh. I checked out after you said that reviews of the conclusion of this trilogy are negative. I'll have to research that further. I cannot invest in more books that crush me in the end. For me, it is the conclusion that sets the tone for how I remember the entire set of books. The science fiction aspects and sweet romance are both very compelling, however.


I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.