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Embers of War

(Embers of War #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  3,557 ratings  ·  481 reviews
The warship Trouble Dog was built and bred for calculating violence, yet following a brutal war, she finds herself disgusted by conflict and her role in a possible war crime. Seeking to atone, she joins the House of Reclamation, an organisation dedicated to rescuing ships in distress.

But, stripped of her weaponry and emptied of her officers, she struggles in the new role s
Paperback, 411 pages
Published February 20th 2018 by Titan Books
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Will Depends on what weight you put on the word "quality". If it's non-zero, then you want to steer clear of this book.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy …more
Depends on what weight you put on the word "quality". If it's non-zero, then you want to steer clear of this book.

Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy does match your spec exactly, though.(less)

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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Manuel Antão
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Space Opera Made Simple: " Embers of War" by Gareth L. Powell

I can't believe all the people who want to see the SF establishment have a hack at Iain M. Bank's Culture novels. If ever there were novels that I hope Hollywood will never be let anywhere near it's those ones. The books are usually quite long and always involve considerable subtlety. Seeing that rendered down to a brainless action movie would just be heart breaking. Worse wo
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gareth Powell’s new space opera Embers of War is the story of the reformed warship Trouble Dog and her crew. After participating in a terrible genocide that brought an end to a brutal, destructive war, Trouble Dog leaves her sister warships behind and joins the House of Reclamation, an interstellar Red Cross-like rescue organization. With new captain Sal Konstanz and a small crew of medics and rescue workers, Trouble Dog is assigned to rescue the survivors of the touring ship Geest van Amsterdam ...more
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
At first, I felt like this was going to be a single-track MilSF with big spaceships and disgruntled warriors, but soon I was very happy to discover multidimensional characters representing a much wider kind of cast than I usually see in these types of novels. Poetry, spies, sentient ships, (reminding me a lot of Leckie), and of course, disgruntled grunts fill these pages.

But do you know what I like the most about this? The ability to escape the world of war into a hard life of altruism, a-la the
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
In this space opera there are many sentient races in a loose organization called the Multiplicity with human space referred to as the Generality. Within those is the House of Reclamation, a human-created organization that comes to the rescue of spaceships and their crews in trouble, either through accident or attack. We start the action here following the Trouble Dog, a Carnivore class battle cruiser that was sickened by her role in war atrocities and quit to join the House. The Trouble Dog and ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites-books
*** I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much too, Titan Books for the opportunity to read and review Embers of War. ***

Whoa, what an amazing and fantastic book was Embers of War was for me. I absolutely and thoroughly loved and enjoyed everything about this book, it had everything that I love in sci-fi books. Plus when I heard this was a space opera book I had to check it out. I really don't want to go into any details about this book because I
Tim Hicks
Jun 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Hey, I *like* sentient spaceships. I've devoured all of Banks and Leckie and Asher and others.

And superficially this is similar. It bops along well, with action but also some moral dilemmas and crises. The Trouble Dog is good, Nod is tedious, Clay is a cardboard all-anger-all-the-time, Konstanz is weak but credible, ..

The genocide bit was important to the plot, but I didn't get much out of the brief handwaving about why it was necessary. Probably something like "We saved lives by bombing Hiros
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Embers of War by Gareth L. Powell is a sci-fi military space opera that has been on my radar ever since it was released last year, but it wasn’t until news of the sequel arrived that I was finally spurred to pick it up. And now that I’ve finished it, I’m kicking myself wondering why it took me so long. This novel has everything I wanted out of the genre and more, and I had a lot of fun reading it.

Following a handful of dif
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story opens with an horrific act of brutality to stop a war, then continues years later where members of both sides live in an uneasy peace. The author presents different viewpoint characters from both sides of the former conflict, Sal Konstanz (the captain of the ship Trouble Dog), Ona Sudak (a poet), Ashton Childe (a spy for one of the sides), and Trouble Dog (a former warship involved in the war crime).
All these characters are brought together when someone unknown fires at a cruise ship t
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
I really quite liked this. The lighter, redemptive feel was refreshing after some of the grimmer SF I've read recently.

The pacing was great and everything moves along well. I absolutely loved Trouble Dog, and her flawed captain, Sal, was a great compliment. I'm not sure that I liked having all those POVs written in the first person, but that is a matter of personal taste. Also, the whole storyline relating to Ona Sudek felt a bit unnecessary when taken as part of the whole. I would rather have
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a military SF with a twist that won British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel in 2018. Currently I prefer British SF to the USA one and therefore decided to read it. I read is as a Buddy read for April 2020 at SFF Hot from Printers: New Releases group.

The story starts with a bang: there is some space battle and one of the sides to speed up capitulation of the other orders bombing of a planet with a sentient forest.

Then we are brought a few years forward, the war is over a
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-the-book
I loooove Embers of War! I was looking for an adventure with not too many POV and a graspable plot that has adventure and mystery. And this is it! I loved the writing and characters, and especially Trouble Dog. Trouble Dog is a sentient ship I guess I can call it that. With human and dog elements. The dynamic between ship and the chars is fun. It starts off with war in the prologue and than chapter one with Trouble Dog and the gang exploring a fallen ship on a planet. Things go awry and dude tha ...more
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I adore stories about sentient ships. I have a huge soft spot for stories about salvage crews. And anybody who can paint a setting as big and bold as the excesses of the Culture will have a little piece of my heart forever. Gareth L Powell has created a galaxy peopled with many races and cultures and imbued with a sense of history in which humanity is only a very recent participant. We only ever – at best – scratch the surface of the world-building.

Fast, furious and fun. There’s a couple of asp
I really enjoy a good space opera and this has everything I could wish - great characters, brilliant starships and a thoroughly entertaining plot set in a variety of fascinating settings - plus mysterious and wondrous alien artefacts. There are hints of something else in the shadows ensuring that my attention is caught for the rest of the series, although the characters and the strange 'Gallery' have done more than enough to hook me. Gareth L Powell writes very well and is an excellent teller of ...more
Tobin Marks
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gareth Powell has spun a yarn as intriguing as it is entertaining. The starships are not only sentient, but they have the ability to create avatars of themselves and can interact in a virtual plane as humans. This gives the reader a vivid image of the starships personality. This is my first book of Powell’s that I’ve read and enthusiastically look forward to reading the whole series.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was one of those books that I had seen some promo for so I stuck in on my wishlist to get to "eventually". Then Booksandpieces talked about it in a wrap up which ended up being more of an excited squeak so I had to buy it and read it immediately!

I'm glad I did as it's possibly the best book I have read in a long time. In fact, as soon as I finished it I wanted to start again. And that's something that never happens.

We have multiple points of view in here, from the Captain of Trouble Dog, Sa
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
2019: Addictively readable with compelling characters and a fascinating yet not overly complicated world. This book just whizzed by. I enjoyed the perspectives of all the characters and how the short chapters helped quicken the pace. I loved the ethical questions about personhood, loyalty, war and legacy. The writing style was also subtly beautiful. Such a wonderful surprise!!

2020: I listened to the audiobook this time. I didn’t enjoy this format as much as physically reading it. A few of the na
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Vigorous space opera peering into war and guilt - but not so much so as to detract from the action. Banksian (if that's a word) flavours, and plenty more to do. Swallowed it in a short space of time, will no doubt enjoy the next as well. ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a most enjoyable space adventure. My favorite character is the ships mechanic. And is exactly the escape I needed right now.
Antti Värtö
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I began with Embers of War I was prepared to love it. I almost felt like I was reading a Culture novel: there was thinking ships with FTL drives, multiple alien races living side-by-side pretty much equally, mysterious alien megastructure artifacts.

And the book had themes of atonement and repentance, something I always enjoy.

Alas, the book didn't live up to my expectations. Part of the problem were the characters, none of whom were particulary likeable. It didn't help that the book was di
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is everything I want in a story. Sentient space ships facing moral dilemmas, excellent character building, quality universe building, interesting histories, deep personal issues facing the characters, intense and engaging inner and outer struggles, and some of the best spaceship warfare ever! Loved it and highly recommend to readers of SciFi and for those who normally skip SciFi too. This story will appeal to readers of all genres I think.
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
I really enjoyed this - great if you're looking for some escapist, character-driven SF set in a really interesting world. ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Boring, weak characters. I mostly skimmed it the farther into the book I got. I just couldn’t care about the characters or the plot.
Paul O'Neill
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Like Iain M Banks Culture series? This is better...


Seriously, though. This is one of the best, character driven books I've read in a long time. A rare thing for sci-fi.
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Understudy to the meistersingers

Draw an equilateral triangle. Write "Iain M Banks", "Alastair Reynolds" and "Ann Leckie" at the vertices. That pretty much gives a feel for this book and its influences/ancestry/sources of plagiarism. From the side linking Banks and Leckie, author Gareth L Powell takes sentient starships, leaning more towards the smaller scale of the latter. Also from Banks there is that New Labourish feel of being right on but also being able to play with guns. From the side link
Luke Burrage
A book which takes the surface details of deep ideas you'll find in novels by Iain M Banks and Alastair Reynolds, along with nods to trendy ideas you'll find in Anne Leckie and others along the lines of "I'm a spaceship/robot but am I really human underneath?"

But it's only the surface details of those ideas, layered onto some space ship battles and exploration action. Which is fine, for light summer reading, but disappointingly shallow.

Full review on my podcast, SFBRP episode #407

Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The soul of great literature surely lies in an imaginative and grounded presentation of identifiable persons involved on a stage of aspiration and conflict recognizable to the reader. The protagonists must reside in an ethical world, even if they be monsters their lack of human compassion or virtue should be comparable to more decent standards. The classics of world literature exemplify the creative artist’s successful mastery of this environment. From Austen to Zola readers are blessed with an ...more
Jeremy Szal
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In everything I read, I'm looking for one of the following: Great, three-dimensional characters that drive the narrative, an expansive and immersive world, and a dark, sinister world state that has glimmers of hope and redemption scattered throughout. Embers of War has all of these things, and does them brilliantly.

The main cast of the story is made up of broken, partially traumatized people who are looking for ways to do better in a universe that's been damaged by an on-going war that's killed
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
4.0 Stars
Combining my two favourite elements in science fiction (space opera AND sentient technology), it was so easy to get engrossed in this novel. The story moved along at a good pace, with short chapters shifting between the different perspectives. I found the human characters fairly flat and unmemorable, yet the non-human perspectives were amazing. I absolutely loved the chapters written from the perspective of Trouble Dog and, even more so, Nod. These characters were refreshingly unique w
S. Naomi Scott
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
What can I say?

This is one hell of a book and one I'd definitely recommend to fans of space opera. The characters are well-rounded and captivating, especially Trouble Dog who steals the show in the final act as far as I'm concerned.

I've seen a few people compare it to Iain M. Banks, and I can see the similarities. There are also some elements of Babylon 5 creeping into the narrative towards the end, though this is a good thing.

As the first in a series, Embers of War is an excellent piece
light space opera (not necessarily in tone but more in little world building, lots of hand waving, following few typical characters, action, secrets)
lots of action, twists and turns, surprises, the usual continual raising of stakes of space opera and the clear Banksian overtones, all in a fairly moderate under 400 page romp; volume 2 definitely of interest
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SFF Hot from Prin...: Embers of War Buddy Read 13 16 Apr 22, 2020 01:47AM  
Lit Chicks Podcast: Embers of War w/ special guest Gareth Powell! 3 5 May 16, 2018 02:58PM  

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Gareth L. Powell is an award-winning author from the UK. His alternate history thriller, Ack-Ack Macaque won the 2013 BSFA Award for Best Novel, spawned two sequels, and was shortlisted in the Best Translated Novel category for the 2016 Seiun Awards in Japan. His short fiction has appeared in a host of magazines and anthologies, including Interzone, Solaris Rising 3, and The Year’s Best Science Fi ...more

Other books in the series

Embers of War (3 books)
  • Fleet of Knives (Embers of War, #2)
  • Light of Impossible Stars (Embers of War, #3)

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