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“I was on a dead ship on an unknown planet with three trainees freshly graduated into the Imperial Service. I tried to look on the bright side.”

He is the last to wake. The label on his sleeper pad identifies him as an admiral of the Evagardian Empire—a surprise as much to him as to the three recent recruits now under his command. He wears no uniform, and he is ignorant of military protocol, but the ship’s records confirm he is their superior officer.

Whether he is an Evagardian admiral or a spy will be of little consequence if the crew members all end up dead. They are marooned on a strange world, their ship’s systems are failing one by one—and they are not alone.

309 pages, Hardcover

First published May 3, 2016

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Sean Danker

15 books147 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 284 reviews
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,003 reviews2,595 followers
May 20, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/05/20/...

Admiral could be the most entertaining military science fiction novel I read all year. This book pulled me in straight from the start, with a publisher’s description that teases so much intrigue that I would have been hard pressed to put it down again had I picked it up off a shelf at the store. Delivering an enticing combination of mystery and suspense, Sean Danker’s debut is an intensely action-packed and fast-paced survival adventure that’s sure to appeal to both sci-fi veterans and newcomers to the genre alike.

The story begins with the main protagonist, our unnamed narrator, waking up on a dead ship with no one else alive on board besides a trio of newly graduated recruits from the Evagardian Imperial Service. The only clue we have to his identity is the insignia on his sleeper pod that marks him as an admiral…but is he? The three trainees—Lieutenant Deilani, Ensign Nils, and Private Salmagard—each respond to his presence in different ways, ranging from ingrained obedience to outright hostile suspicion, but for the time being, their first priority is to figure out where they are and what happened to make their ship’s systems shut down, dumping them all out of stasis.

The more they find out though, the more unsettling their circumstances become. The admiral and his three companions are stranded on an unknown planet, with dwindling supplies and no way to communicate their distress, and any kind of rescue could be a long time coming. Plus, their faltering equipment is picking up signs that they are not alone after all. Something dangerous is lurking out there, and it might have been what killed everyone…

If that doesn’t send a chill up your spine, what will? Admiral is part mystery and part space disaster story, with shades of Alien here and there. The unknown is a powerful source of fear but also curiosity, which is what made this book so compelling from the start. Three questions demand answers right away: 1) where the characters are right now, 2) what could have possibly mangled the hell out of their half-kilometer long freighter, and 3) who is our mysterious narrator who may or may not be an admiral, but clearly knows a lot about the Imperial Service and the way it works?

There will be no spoilers here, obviously. However, I will say that while the first and second questions are answered in good time, the identity of our protagonist is a puzzle that will last until almost to the end of the novel, though many clues can be gleaned along the way from the narrator’s observations or from the reactions of his three subordinates towards him. Of course, there’s no denying that there are issues with this. Due to the nature of the story, use of an unreliable narrator as a literary device is clearly unavoidable, and it causes a lot of the awkwardness expected when your protagonist knows exactly who he is but can’t say. Later on, one of the trainees also figure out who the admiral really is but also won’t reveal his secret, resulting in a lot of stilted conversations between the two of them while they dance around the subject.

And yet, if you can accept what the author is trying to do and take all this in stride, it’s actually pretty easy to roll with the punches. While it’s true that the identity of our narrator is something of a forced enigma, the other quandaries our characters have to deal with are genuinely intriguing and in some ways disturbing. There’s never a dull moment as they work together against the clock to survive conditions on a dead planet, trying to find solutions to their lack of life support, sensor capabilities, and communications systems. Then there’s the question or who or what is moving about on their ship and out in the mists, given how nothing should be able to survive their hull breach and the inhospitable atmosphere. I ended up finishing this book in a little more than a day, because when every page is filled with a sense of urgency, it’s kind of hard to stop reading.

It also surprised me how much world-building and character development Danker was able to pack into such a short, fast-paced and tightly plotted story which leaves almost no room to catch a breath, but indeed there were several brief moments of downtime where we got to know our characters better. Granted, there are only four—but on the flip side, this meant a lot more time spent with each member of this smaller cast, and I enjoyed the interesting backgrounds of our three recruits as well as the individual skills they brought to the dilemma. There was also enough background about the Evagardian Empire to tether me to this universe, making me feel invested in the mystery of our admiral’s identity and the political ramifications of the story’s events.

Admiral ended up being a lot of fun, a rock solid debut from Sean Danker whose writing career I will now be following with great excitement and interest. I could easily go on and on with my praise for this novel, but because so much of my enjoyment was from learning its secrets, it’s probably best to leave the rest a mystery for readers to discover. This one hooked me from the start with its nail-biting suspense, hitting a lot of the sci-fi and space disaster themes that make this genre so popular while still teasing plenty of uniqueness and more to come for the rest of this series. I can’t wait to see what the next book will bring.
Profile Image for Lindsay.
1,244 reviews219 followers
November 13, 2016
Our narrator awakes from cold sleep in a pod labeled with an Admiral's rank to three military trainees and a dead ship. The goal is to survive, despite the suspicions and wildly different backgrounds of the trainee soldiers suddenly under his command. But nothing about the situation is what it seems and there are some extreme challenges that this little group is going to face to make it through.

I was strongly reminded of Pitch Black by this book, and I actually think that's strong praise. There are obvious differences, and the mysterious background of the unnamed Admiral is an ongoing mystery. On a purely personal note, this was a bit of a sticking point for me, as I don't believe hidden agendas/backgrounds work for first person narratives. In the case of a first person narrative you are in the protagonists head, but because of the secrets, you're not. Doubling down on this is that one of the trainees also seems to know something about the Admiral that you don't find out until close to the end, which makes the hidden background even more frustrating. But it does kind of work in the end.

Overall, extremely action-packed, particularly in the second half and interesting on several levels.
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,677 reviews456 followers
May 9, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

This was fun! It wasn't mind blowing or anything but I certainly enjoyed myself while reading it. There were definitely some exciting moments in the story and a few surprises. I found myself wondering if the crew members would be able to survive their situation at the same time I was focused on the identity of the characters. I really liked that the story took a few turns that I really didn't see coming that added a lot to the story. This was a really strong start to a new series.

The Admiral starts the story by being resuscitated after his sleeper cell malfunctions. He recovers and realizes that he is on a dead ship with three new recruits. He assumes command and they start to take steps to ensure their survival. They soon realize that the situation is worse than they feared and the planet isn't stable. Will the group be able to work together to get off of this planet?

The characters were one of the main strengths of this book. We never learn the admiral's name or really too much about him but I still really liked him. He was a natural leader and was able to think fast and get the group through many situations. The three recruits were all very different and their personas worked well together in the story. Had they all been distrustful of the admiral it would not have had the same effect as it did with one very distrustful recruit. I liked how they learned to become a team when necessary.

I thought that the pacing of the story was well done. There are so many things that this group has to get through that there is never any time for the story to really slow down much at all. I thought that the mystery of the admiral's identity was an interesting element. I do wish that we had learned something a bit sooner than we did but he was a great leader without any background on him. It added a nice mystery to the story.

I would definitely recommend this book to fans of science fiction. I didn't think that the science fiction in this story was heavy at all and this one should appeal to a wide range of readers. This is the first book by Sean Danker that I have read and I plan to continue with this series as soon as the next book is released.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Penguin Publishing Group - Roc via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
I thought this one was okay. I didn't fall in love with it but it was entertaining.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,230 reviews1,004 followers
May 19, 2016
'Admiral' is a thoroughly enjoyable military space adventure. For whatever reason, it's been a while since I've found a pure science-fiction adventure that I've really enjoyed. This novel breaks that 'meh' streak in a no-holds-barred way!

Reminiscent of 'Alien,' it would also translate well to the big screen.

The 'Admiral' of the title is the narrator. Waking from coldsleep, he finds himself aboard an empty, abandoned spacecraft, accompanied only by a small team of three untested ensigns. The trainees have serious doubts about the credentials of the Admiral, who chooses to remain anonymous. His insistence on keeping some information close to his chest extends not just to the other characters, but to the reader. I see that some reviewers found this frustrating, but I think it actually worked very well. The way things eventually play out justifies the author's decision and fits with the character that he created.

Unable or unwilling to reveal his identity to his new crewmates, the Admiral may or may not be who he says he is. But whether or not he is an enemy spy, or any of a number of other possibilities, he does seem to have the leadership skills and experience needed to bring them together as a team. Although under suspicion, he's their only chance of survival, and their best chance of figuring out what on earth (or rather, in space) happened to the ship, and where in the galaxy they might be.

As they figure out more details of their situation, things go from bad to worse... and it'll take both ingenuity and luck to make it through.

The detailed descriptions of the variety of technical 'fixes' needed to make it through one crisis after another may remind some of 'The Martian' - however, unlike that book, this story has excellent pacing, great suspense/tension, and never gets bogged down in lame and unfunny jokes.

Highly recommended for sci-fi fans.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are solely my own.
Profile Image for Sherwood Smith.
Author 155 books37.5k followers
February 5, 2016
Copy provided by NetGalley

My reaction to this book, which I burned through last night, is complicated by the fact that the story itself was absolutely terrific, but. The ending left me more frustrated than enlightened, the manner of it deliberately anti-resolution, and that after encountering midway through the book one of the tropes I rank high for being really annoying.

If this is the first of a series, I can deal with the ending being confusing, leaving more questions than answers, because the rest of the book was so good. From the first paragraph, the book was fast-paced, full of science fictional inventiveness, as four characters, including the narrator, emerge from sleeper pods to find themselves on what appears to be an enemy merchant ship.

Which is balanced on the edge of a cliff.

It is also full of dangers that they discover one by one, while trying to deal with distrust, masked motivations, a lack of supplies, no computers, and mounting questions as well as horror and increasing threat.

Danker's characters are terrific, his mastery of military thinking convincing, and the unfolding weirdness of the world the four find themselves on was endlessly fascinating and harrowing.

But that ending!!!
Profile Image for Justine.
1,110 reviews301 followers
November 26, 2016
This was an OK read, but it didn’t stand out for me. I thought the "reveal" at the end wasn't quite enough to justify the amount of build up during the rest of the book. I might just be feeling a bit grumpy though.
Profile Image for Helen.
872 reviews2 followers
November 26, 2016
This book effortlessly pulled me in with the pacy writing and riveting plot. The halfway point began making me uneasy and by 80% I was shouting at characters to turn around and go somewhere, anywhere, safe.

The Admiral's identity is kept secret virtually to the end page but I'm alright with this as I like the guy.

I'll be reading the next book.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
2,994 reviews635 followers
May 5, 2016
Five reasons to grab a copy of the Admiral

The Admiral was an enthralling and suspenseful read that draws the reader in from the very first page. The tale begins when three new recruits of the Evagardian Empresses' new flagship the Julian, find themselves in their sleeper pods on a critically damaged Ganrean freighter. Lt. Deilani, techie Ensign Nils, and negotiator Private Salmagard discover a man in a sleeper pod that identifies him as an Admiral. However something seems off.  The man refuses to identify himself, does not know protocol and has no uniform. The Ganrean freighter has crashed on a barren planet covered in black sand with a weird green atmosphere. There is no evidence of a crew.
Danker delivers the tale in first person from the perspective of the Admiral whose identity is kept a mystery even from the reader. As the four of them try to understand what happened, they begin to learn about each other. They are suspicious, concerned about rescue, and curious about their commander. Salmagard thinks she recognizes him but says nothing. Nils easily follows the Admiral’s orders and Lt. Deilani is suspects he is a fraud. From the beginning, she openly accuses him of being a spy. Danker cleverly has them working together, finding common ground and setting aside hostilities for the greater cause…survival.
The story that unfolds was nail-biting with moments reminiscent of Mark Watney’s survival on Mars in The Martian. The four worked together to solve one life-threatening situation after another. While there is geek speak the story is one even non-science fiction fans will appreciate it. It flowed wonderfully balancing character development, information, and climatic scenes.
From the synopsis, we know that they are not alone on this strange planet. Danker slowly built on that suspense as their ship fails and they are forced to leave. Action scenes with MacGyver moments had me holding my breath. Will they survive? What is out there? Peppered with God save us all scenes the Admiral made for an entertaining read.
Between our mystery man the Admiral and surviving their predicament Danker weaved in humor, fleshed out the world these folks came from and gave us a little history on the war between the Evagardian and the Ganrean. We are rewarded at the end with answers to who the Admiral is, before being left on a cliff awaiting what happens next.

Copy provided by publisher. This review was originally posted on Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Profile Image for Silea.
218 reviews14 followers
December 29, 2015
So there are basically two main elements to the book:
1) Where the heck are they and how do they get out alive?
2) What's with this guy who's an admiral but clearly not an admiral?

The first is handled with classic suspense/escape sensibilities - they come up with a plan, nearly succeed, plan fails and they're marginally worse off than before. Lather rinse repeat. This part holds together fine, it's a standard sci-fi model.

The second annoyed me tremendously. Within a few chapters, one of the underlings has figured out who the 'admiral' is, but they don't tell us. They drop hints like we know a darn thing about the worlds they come from. It's a series of inside jokes and the reader is on the outside. Throughout the whole book, exactly one paid off at all for me, and it was way too little after way too long. All the answers come in the final chapter, when two characters sit down and conveniently explain everything to the reader in a simple dialogue that no two human beings would ever have.

Will i read the next in the series? I don't know. It will depend a lot on whether it's building on these characters, or just the world they live in.
Profile Image for John.
1,591 reviews50 followers
September 7, 2016
Uncomplicated, rip roaring adventure with the mystery of the main character's identity and a strange planet that just keeps getting more and more deadly to keep things hurtling along. The background history is well developed, there's some decently sharp banter, and no rules of physics are overtly contradicted. My only real quibbles are that the the crash landing/attempted assassination seems a kind of contrived way to get the ball rolling, and the body count is so high and the characters take so many serious injuries along the way that the violence turns a bit cartoony. I'm fairly sure we still don't know the truth about the "Admiral" despite some putative unpacking at the end, and look forward to further revelations (not to mention large explosions, many large explosions) in future episodes.
Profile Image for Jacqueline J.
3,461 reviews311 followers
May 22, 2016
Well that was totally satisfying. Edge of your seat sci fi adventure. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The protagonist was totally likable. There were good well developed secondary characters. There was an eerie alien planet, mysterious happenings and bright sparks of humor. I kept wanting to underline the good bits. There was no info dump so you just had to go along for the ride and trust everything would become clear in time. At the final denouement I was happy to see that I was correct in most of my guesses.

I totally hope we haven't seen the last of this hero.
Profile Image for Bentley ★ Bookbastion.net.
242 reviews550 followers
March 29, 2021
If there is one thing that this book has going for it, it is the fact that this is a constant thrill ride of an adventure - quite literally - from start to finish.

I picked this book up on a whim at a small bookshop a couple of years ago when I was on vacation. Like so many of my books, it ended up on a shelf for awhile while I promised to get to it as soon as I was possibly able. I've been working diligently through my backlog and finally decided to give this one a go - and I'm very glad I did. There's something about confronting the unknown in the vast of space that will always be exciting for me. If you're drawn to science fiction for an adventure, this is definitely the book for you.

There is a definite focus on constant action and plot movement in this novel. As a result, one drawback for me personally was that I found the prose itself a little lacking in detail. The author seemed more interested in keeping the story moving over describing things like the character's surroundings, or even the characters themselves. It certainly keeps the story moving in a forward direction - there was no time to be bored - but I almost felt a bit overwhelmed for the characters.

They literally never catch a break, or have a moment to sit, breathe and regroup about the events that just happened to them, because as soon as they resolve one problem, three more tend to pop up around them. I did devour this book over the course of a weekend though, so what story movement there was here was definitely compelling.

This book did commit one of my least favorite tropes in storytelling though, with the first person, unreliable narrator. This is one of those annoying voices that tells you throughout the story that they're not to be trusted, and that they're not sharing pertinent details with the characters, or the reader. There's something smug about the narration that just rubbed me the wrong way - especially as the narrator had no reason to hides the truth of their identity from the reader for as long as they did. Even when it is finally revealed, it is far too late in the story to matter or impact the plot in any way.

Perhaps more will come of that particular plot thread in future books in this series, but the way it closed out in this book felt unsatisfying for me personally.

That's relatively minor though to the excitement of the story. Was there a ton of new territory covered here? Not particularly, but the story itself is exciting and moves quite quickly, so definitely give it a go if you're looking for a fast-paced sci-fi romp!

★★★★ = 4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Gökçe.
Author 7 books43 followers
June 13, 2016
Macera romanı dediğin böyle olur. Tam kıvamında verilmiş gizemler, karakter çatışmaları, insanın doğayla mücadelesi, insanın uzaylı ile mücadelesi ve zamana karşı yarış. Bunların hepsini de ısrarla birinci tekil şahıs, hem de etrafındakilere yalan söylediğini açık açık söyleyen bir karakteri anlatıcı olarak kullanıp veriyor.

Bir kaç aksadığı yer vardı. Büyük ihtimalle ikinci okumada sıkıntılı yerlerini bulabilirim. Aşk hikayesi, ki aşktan ziyade şehvet denebilir, olmasa da olurdu. Varlığı sadece macera romanında aşk da olur diyenler içindi. Amiral'in gizemi öyle çok meraklandırıcı da değildi, ne olduğunu tam olarak anlamasam da tahmin edebiliyordum. Gene de soluksuz okuttu. O yüzden tavsiye ediyorum.
Profile Image for Empress Reece (Hooked on Books).
915 reviews77 followers
February 9, 2017
I didn't much care for the audio narrator and I didn't at all like the way the storyline kept everything from the reader until the end. I felt lost most of the way through the book until the ending reveal. I liked the ending a lot though and will definitely check out the next book in the series now that I know what the hell is going on.
Profile Image for Christina Pilkington.
1,475 reviews139 followers
December 7, 2016
2.5 stars

While there were some moments in this book that I enjoyed reading this story, the writing, plot and character development ultimately fell flat for me.

Let's start with the positives. The story does have a decent sense of mystery. I was intrigued thought my reading as to the identity of the admiral and the overall mystery of what had happened to the ship and the other passengers on board. Although I don't read a ton of science fiction, the planet where the ship has landed seemed pretty unique to me and different from anything I had read before.

However, the main problem was that there wasn't enough detail and atmosphere and description for me to get as vivivd of an image of the world as I would have liked. We get a decent amount of backstory for a few of the characters (expect for the main character), that made it somewhat interesting, but I didn't get a good sense of who these characters were. I also had a problem with the writing itself. It was often uninteresting, plain and mediocre.

I might continue on to the second book in the series if it as decent enough reviews and if the plot of the story sounds interesting enough for me. If not, I probably won't continue this series.

I do thank the Goodreads Giveaway program and Roc Publishing for my free copy of this book.
Profile Image for Sunil Laxman.
55 reviews1 follower
April 9, 2017
Sci-Fi space saga with stranded protagonists? Sign me Up! Admiral was a blast to read through and I loved every page of it.

The plot is centered around four Evagardians, a space class of humans, who find themselves waking from cryosleep in a strange ship under strange circumstances. All they have with them is their own wits and the meager supplies on the space ship. They must fight all the odds, and their personal differences, in order to make their way back to civilization.

First off, MAJOR props to Sean Danker for how he wrote this book. There is little to no exposition. We figure stuff out about the world from how the characters talk to each other and it's amazing to see the author have such faith in the reader's ability to understand a fairly complex story without being spoon-fed the details all the way. The pacing is breakneck. There are literally no slow points in this book as the characters go from one problem to the next. Something is almost always happening and I didn't feel it lag one bit.

The Sci-Fi element of it I loved. The class seperation between the Ganraens and the Evagardians and their conflict was pretty well shown. We never really learn who the Admiral is up until the last page, which I was fine with. I personally can't see any negatives with this one. High hopes for the sequel!
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
June 17, 2016
The premise of this one reminded me of the kinds of stories "The Outer Limits" used to spin. Our hero - known only by his supposed rank of Admiral - and three military trainees wake up from hibernation on a derelict ship that recently landed on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited planet. The crew of the ship has been killed, and conditions on the planet rapidly get more unstable. And they soon discover that the planet might not be so uninhabited after all.
This debut novel from military man Sean Danker is tightly written and fast paced. Danker doesn't break any new ground here, as the story leans pretty heavily on established genre conventions. Not that that's a bad thing necessarily; genres wouldn't be genres without conventions to lean on - the trick is live up to expectations without being too predictable, a balancing act that Danker mostly pulls off. There are few false notes in the novel, the characters are believable and well developed, and clichés are mostly avoided.
Though the scope of the action is limited to just a handful of locations and characters, Danker peels back a few layers of his Evagardian Empire to show a complex and fascinating web of political and social structures engulfing his universe, one I can't wait to see him explore in future works.
An impressive debut from a writer who I suspect will get even better with time.
Profile Image for Christy LoveOfBooks.
842 reviews567 followers
May 25, 2016

What a fun and entertaining ride!

The mystery starts right from the beginning. Three trainee crew members and our main character wake up on a crashed ship on a creepy inhospitable planet. No one knows what the hell is going on, where they are, where everyone else is, or how they’re going to get out of the situation. Oh, and who exactly is the Admiral? Because things aren’t quite adding up with him.

We’re thrown right in the mix along with the characters, only knowing as much as they do, discovering everything right along with them. That includes the secrets our dear Admiral is hiding, even though it’s told in first-person. We don’t get his name, but we get hints of who he is throughout the story, and the more we learn, the more intriguing it gets. I didn’t know quite what to think of him at first, but I enjoyed his personality more and more, especially his sense of humor.

The story is fast-paced and engaging. There were numerous exciting moments that had me turning the pages as fast as I could, wondering how they were going to survive. There’s some creepiness too, that kept me wondering what the hell is going on. We’re kept guessing from beginning to end.

Overall, Admiral is a quick and totally satisfying read. I’m excited about this being a series and look forward to the next adventure.
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,493 reviews2,315 followers
December 18, 2016
Admiral by Sean Danker is a sci-fi novel and I won this from Goodreads Giveaways, yeah!!! I am so glad I did, it is so awesome. The plot is so great with so many twists, turns, action, mysteries, and fun. The characters are intriguing and creative. The "Admiral", we don't know his real name, is awakened from stasis by three military trainees when his life support stasis starts failing. It seems the four of them are all that is on the space ship. Once they check the ship, they find it damaged and sabotaged, same as the Admiral's sleeping habitat. Then they find they are not in space but on a godforsaken planet that is trying to kill them. The action is nonstop and suspenseful but at the same time the author makes it humorous at the most odd times which adds so much to the story. The story is brilliant and witty. The reader is left in the dark as to who the Admiral really is until the very end of the book. I sure hope there is a book two! There wasn't a page that didn't have extreme tension, explosions, life threatening situations, complications, creatures, and more mysteries. A great read! Excellent book.
Profile Image for Andrea.
Author 25 books780 followers
August 26, 2016
Waking up from cryosleep on a semi-abandoned ship, and trying to work out what the heck is going on is a situation fraught with potential. When you have three new military graduates and a highly suspicious admiral who might or might not be a spy, you definitely have a plot with lots of hooks.

'Admiral' starts out very strong, although it sadly peters out into a mainly action-focused conclusion. Not uninteresting at the very end, but not a story that lives up to, say, a Vorkosigan novel. The characters also weren't very imaginative .

Not bad with the female characters, although there's a definite impression that the one person who matters to the story is our nameless POV, and the rest are just transients to his larger tale.

Will consider picking at the next in the series, but not an absolute must.
Profile Image for TL .
1,789 reviews35 followers
July 1, 2019
Deleted old review, wasn't happy with it and forgot to look at dates when I read it haha. (Dates are random)

Didn't like it as much as the first time around but still had fun:). This would be a good film adaptation methinks.. especially the climatic final fight scenes.

Wouldn't mind having our Admiral at my side in a fight.
Profile Image for Sophia.
Author 5 books328 followers
May 31, 2016
Never doubt the influence of a well-written review. Two of my favorite book review blogs- Caffeinated Reader and Christy Loves Books reviewed this book and I immediately decided that I had to read it.
A sci-fi thriller set in the future and taking place on a remote and hostile planet during a war between space empires. From the moment, the anonymous main character opens his eyes to a desperate and confusing situation to the last word on the last page, I didn't want to put it down. I am happy to see that this is the first book in an ongoing series and after experiencing the writing, plot, setting, and character development I will eagerly await the next installment.

As I said, the story opens with the character known only as the Admiral being roused from deep sleep in his sleeper by a frantic trio of new military recruits who have also only just awakened to a disturbing mystery. They are on board a ship of enemy design that they aren't even supposed to be on, the crew of the ship is missing and the clues to what happened are confusing and disturbing at best. The admiral sees their suspicion of him, but also their need for his skills in helping them survive until rescue. But then their situation grows even more critical and desperate as they learn the truth about the planet turning the story into a harrowing survival adventure even while they try to find the truth of their mysterious marooning.

The story was a superbly written piece. The author grabs the reader from the first sentence and begins trickling the truth in small doses that leave the reader craving each little clue. The description of the world and the setting are not stingy, but happily not handled in an info dump, but explained and revealed organically as the story progresses. I enjoyed the blend of military thriller, sci-fi adventure, fiction, and just a wee hint of romantic interest.

It's an interesting situation as it has only one narrator, the Admiral- who never actually gets named. This is on purpose. He tells the story, but the reader is meant to always wonder what he is revealing, but equally, what he is concealing. The other three, military recruits just out of the Evagardian Empire's academy were supposed to be taken the Empress' flag ship to start their careers. One is a science medical officer, one is a tech officer, and one is for diplomatic work. All are capable just untried. The lieutenant is openly suspicious and hostile, but she follows orders, the tech guy is content to take orders and is brilliant at what he does, and the ensign is something of an enigma in herself as she is the only one to trust him explicitly and looks at him with knowing eyes that makes him wonder what exactly she knows. All work together using their strengths to investigate and survive. Connections forge so that they felt like a well-oiled team in the end.

And that leads me to the plotting and pacing. This one had a nice steady pace that had atmosphere and foreshadowing so that transitions into action sequences could come on gradually or startle the reader into heartpounding excitement. I loved all the twists and turns this book took. Just when I thought it couldn't get more intense or nailbiting; it would.

In the end, I was smugly pleased with myself that I had figured out the truth about the admiral even if the surrounding situation and some of the reasons for the predicament had escaped me.
Those who enjoy sci-fi thrillers will definitely want to give this one a go.
Profile Image for Linda.
844 reviews4 followers
April 9, 2017
What a great book! If you like fast paced military science fiction you will like this book. Four people wake up from their sleepers to an abandoned ship. Three are newly trained military personnel (a lieutenant, an ensign and a private) and the fourth is an Admiral. At least that's what his sleeper says -- no other name, just the rank. The Admiral is older than they are but not old enough to be an admiral and when they all retrieve their clothes from their lockers, he does not have a uniform. The lieutenant is instantly suspicious, the private seems to recognize him but says nothing and the ensign is just a little scared of what they've been thrown into. The Admiral is used to command however and he is the one who immediately makes decisions and the other three tend to follow them.
The world they live in has recently been in a long term war -- the Empire (who all of these people are affiliated with) against the Gamraens and apparently there has just been a cease fire due to the Gamraens capital being attacked. The lieutenant suspects that the Admiral is a spy since he obviously is not a normal Admiral however they will all be dead unless they manage to figure out what has happened to them and make their way back to civilization. This of course is where most of the book leads. Where are they? Who else is there and how can they either contact help or manage their own escape? The people in this world have a well defined place -- those with appropriate blood lines of course being the leaders but even they are confined by their birth. We eventually find out more about all of the very appealing characters -- but never enough! If this is the first in a series, it will be eagerly awaited just as you had to wait until the very end to find out about the Admiral.
Profile Image for Stuart.
1,139 reviews19 followers
March 7, 2016
OK, so this was a great read! Lots of tension (even though the book is narrated in the first person, which lessens said tension), lots of science fiction, and all well executed. As the team overcomes one obstacle, they hit another.... and so on.
The book starts with four Imperial space navy personnel coming out of sleep-travel, with one of them designated the titular admiral. This creates the first level of tension in the book, as the others don't believe he is really an admiral, indeed that he may be a spy for the enemy.
But putting that to one side, they discover that the spaceship they have been travelling on has crashed on an unknown planet, swirling with a green tendril atmosphere. How can they escape, with very few resources? This part of the story was reminiscent of "The Martian", but without the potatoes. Instead, they have to jury-rig all the remaining undamaged equipment on the ship and see how they can signal for help. Or failing that, see if the can find someone else on the planet. Or is there someTHING else on the planet? read on to find out.
Behind it all is the mystery of who the "Admiral" really is, and the story of the war between the Evagardian Empire and the Ganraen Commonwealth. And the back stories of all the characters are interesting, each one giving an insight into the universe that these two warring human civilizations inhabit.
In the end, it's all well resolved. Perhaps the end was a little fast, but overall, the book is a fast-paced space ride, and I loved it. And it has a real ending! for once, nowadays!
PS this was an ARC - it may change a little on publication.
Profile Image for Brittany.
307 reviews
May 4, 2016
I won a free copy of this book through goodreads giveaways. All opinions are my own.

The book description didn't give me much to go on when I started reading this book so I really wasn't sure what to expect. It sort of felt like it was missing a few chapters at the beginning to give a little backstory. It just jumped right in and never explained some things that I thought would be important to the story such as who the Evaguardian and Ganraen were and why they had been at war with each other. As I got a little farther into the book I determined it wasn't really necessary information to understand and enjoy the story. Since this is supposed to be the first book in a series though, I have a feeling that that information will be addressed and maybe even a plot for another book in the series.

This book was non stop action! I read it very quickly and had trouble finding a good stopping point because there was always something going on in the book. I really liked that this book didn't have a lot of unnecessary filler just to drag the story out. The characters were very relatable. I usually always find at least one character in a book that I don't like. This was not the case with this book though. I thought at first I was going to hate Deilani, but after a while she did start to kind of grow on me.

I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anybody who enjoys sci-fi novels.
Profile Image for Glennis.
1,152 reviews26 followers
May 5, 2016
When the system tells you someone is in charge it can be hard to fight it when so much of the evidence conflicts with what is said. And that is the underlying theme to the story. Four people awaken out of a cryo sleep on a ship with no power instead of arriving on the flagship of the Evagardian Empire. Three of them are recent graduates but one is listed as an admiral and he has to be the youngest looking one the other three have ever heard of. As they try to find out why they have crashed on a transport ship and not at their destination they try to puzzle out the admiral’s background and of course he isn’t helping. As they go into each other’s background you get a good sense of world building in the novel. The four quickly realized they must leave the ship before it kills them and cross part of the planet to a colony that should get them back to where they need to be.

It is a race against the clock to cross before they run out of air and things are not as they seem when they get to where they need to be. Lots of tension among the characters and there is the mystery surrounding the admiral a well. A fun fast read and I want to see more in this universe.

Digital review copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley
Profile Image for Ruthiella.
1,439 reviews48 followers
March 3, 2020
At best, this book reminded me of what I loved most about watching Star Trek (STNG, DS9, Voyager) in the 1990s. I listened to the first half on audio, then switched to print…the narrator gave me smarmy, Mark Whatley (from the Martian) vibes. I needed to get that smarm out of my head. It was a fun read. There are about four cliff-hangers in this story of four humans stranded on a hostile planet in a universe where the Commonwealth and the Empire have recently ended a galactic war with an uneasy truce. The Admiral quickly turns out to have a lot to hide (and may be on the run) and the other three are raw recruits fresh out of training. Can they pool their strengths and save themselves? Overall the book was a lot of fun and is the first in a series.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
919 reviews
February 4, 2017
Survival SF, with a bit of a mystery. The beginning was a little slow, but the paced picked up in the second half. The mystery part got wrapped up a little too quickly in the final chapter. Enjoyable, if you're in the mood for some military science fiction.
Profile Image for Gertie.
358 reviews271 followers
August 8, 2017

I listed to this on audiobook, which I think worked in its favor, because the narrator added some tones I probably would not have inferred from the book. In some ways, his personality reminded me of Harry Dresden ( you know who I mean or you don't ), so that was a bonus.

Throughout much of the book there is an underlying mystery of who our main character is; something which I found intriguing, though I will admit that when the answer was revealed, I felt a bit let down. Perhaps what I imagined was just more tempting for a resolution.

Overall, fun book, easy to imagine as a movie, though it feels a bit "running from scary things" typical in parts. If book 2 is available at my library I'll likely read it as well.
Profile Image for Daniel.
667 reviews43 followers
November 14, 2018
** Second read notes below original review!

*** Original Review ***

Really fun!

- Four strangers wake up aboard a strange ship.
- There appears to be no one else alive on board.
- Things are worse than they seem.

It's tempting to describe this as Stainless Steel Rat meets Aliens, because there are echoes of those type of stories, but the style is much more casual and contemporary than that suggests, so don't be fooled. Our unnamed first-person viewpoint character, "the Admiral", while sharing some of the same capable-con-man traits, is less cocky and more engaging. I see some reviews calling him an unreliable narrator, but he's simply holding back details about his identity from the reader and the other characters, not hiding information about the characters' current situation or his plans. The "unreliable narrator" trope is often used to compensate for a lack of real suspense, or to pull some gimicky reveal, but there's none of that here, and no need. Danker's pacing is excellent, the escalation organic, never forced, and "the Admiral" appealing in the fun-to-hang-out-with rather than admire-from-afar way.

This is definitely in the fast-paced adventure category rather than overly scientific "hard" sf, or galactic scale high-stakes space opera, but it does have a space opera world and Danker might be headed there in the sequels implied by the "An Evagardian Novel" subtitle.

I'm hoping "the Admiral" will be a series character, though I'll be looking out for Danker's future work regardless.

*** 2018 October reread ***

Originally read this about 2 years and 4 months ago, but when I went to read the sequel, I found I couldn't really remember the various characters backstories and it seemed important, so I figured I'd reread it.

As can be expected a bit of the shine is gone reading it through a second time. My previous comments still stand, it's a fun light SF adventure story. There was a slightly homophobic seeming exchange between two characters around the 59% mark that I don't remember flagging first time though. I also felt several times like something might have been a slight continuity error, or wondered how they didn't notice something earlier, but basically I was too lazy to go back through the text to try and verify when that happened, so, whatever.

I wouldn't rate this as high this time through, 4 stars max, but given I generally grant a 5 to books I can see myself rereading, and rereading is what I just did, I'll leave the star rating as is.

Massive who's who spoilers behind the spoiler tags for my own future reference. (Won't fit in the private notes box.)
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