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.