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Ardulum: First Don


3.86  ·  Rating details ·  232 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Ardulum. The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardul
ebook, 248 pages
Published February 27th 2017 by NineStar Press (first published February 22nd 2017)
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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Lex Kent
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’m a sci-fi fan and this was just a really good sci-fi adventure. It had that real space opera feel. I thought the writing was excellent and found myself absolutely engrossed in the ships, planets and aliens. This is straight up sci-fi at its best.

I originally grabbed this because of the lesbian fiction tag. There is no romance or sex in this book; nothing that would give you a clue this is lesfic. But there are two women forming a really intense bond and I have hope for some romance in the nex
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[Edit September 25th]
I read this book a few months ago and absolutely loved it, from the world-building to the multi-layered characters and the complex storylines. I’m happy to say the audiobook is even better. I’m very impressed with the narrator’s ability to give life to so many different characters and so many species. I started listening to book 2 (Ardulum: Second Don) immediately after I finished this one.

[Edit: In hindsight, now that I've read the whole trilogy and the anthology [book:Tale

This book is May's Sapphic Book Club read hosted by @sapphicliterature.

I'm a few days late but still here.

Space opera is not something I read often so I don’t have much comparison and this is why I’ll keep it short.

I had a hard start with this one. I’ve been reading just one chapter at a time at first - partially because of my book slump and partially because I needed some time to get used to all those species, their history, relations, ect. Once I got through that though, it was hard to put thi
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ardulum definitely deserves its rave reviews. The writing is very good. While I liked this first book, I suspect I will enjoy the next books in the series more as answers to the many questions I have are revealed. There is a strong thematic element of religion, which I seldom relate to, but I am finding the story as a whole engaging and unique.
This book was May 2018's Sapphic Book Club read hosted by @sapphicbookclub.

Note: I wrote this review in January 2018, I'm just reposting it for the book club.


I received a copy through NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Read on my blog.

Ardulum is truly a sci-fi story - not just humans vaguely in space, but many developed alien species. For me, the strongest aspect of the book was worldbuilding, especially the different aliens. I loved how they didn't have the same bin
Lisa The Novel Approach
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 Stars ~ Ardulum: First Don does great things for diversity in this sweeping space opera. Firstly, we have our protagonist, a neek called Neek. If her name sounds unoriginal, it’s because it’s supposed to be degrading. Neek has been exiled from her homeworld, a planet with deep religious views, because of her faithlessness (and also probably her violent tendencies, but that’s just my opinion). One of the species the neek worship as gods are the ardulans, long thought to have vanished with the ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was provided for free as the May 2018's Sapphic Book Club read hosted by sapphicbookclub.

This was a solid sci fi story.
I think the worldbuilding is definitely on the strong side for this one. The creation of the Neek and Ardulum alone is just really cool.

I don't have any major critique points, but I still didn't fully connect to the story tbh.

What was really weird for me was the very beginning, Emn's past.
I understand what was happening there NOW of course and why it was written lik
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Ardulum: First Don has been on my TBR for… a while… (The series is complete and I had an ARC, that’s all I’m saying). I’m not sure why I held off — Because sci-fi is definitely a moodread for me, perhaps? — but I was pleasantly surprised and glad I finally gave it a go.

The book has a fantastic, dramatic opening but then shifts focus and, for me, takes a while to really get going again. That’s because th
Apr 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED IT! Launches to my all-time sci-fi faves. I read this book two months ago and I still think about it almost every single day. I can't wait for the next. Is August here yet??? Full review to come.


What do I love most about this book? People, it's so hard to choose! Maybe it's the gorgeous writing? Stunning settings? (I still can't get the planet Neek and the golden light filtering through the trees out of my mind ). The characters that grab you and won't let you go? Or maybe it's the m
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was this month's read for Sapphic Book Club.

I tend to be very picky about my scifi, preferring things to be just right - I shy away from "hard" science fiction, while "soft" scifi doesn't offer me enough science. Ardulum: First Don strikes that middle point perfectly; it presents a technology that doesn't exist in our world as the foundation for the miraculous things that can be done, but that technology exists according to rules that, even if we don't know all of them, clearly exist i
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ff-sf
I really enjoyed this. The FF is very light, and no romance at all. Good so far. The world building is excellent, the races created for this story are complex and interesting, each has its own agenda. The Neek, driven by a quasi-religious agenda. Neek, herself driven, in part to dispute that religious agenda. The Risalians, who are both good guys and bad guys, the Mmnuggls are fascinating.
At times I felt that details were not explained enough, so when the necessary information came I had to fli
Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it

Publisher: Ninestar Press

Publishing Date: February 2017

ISBN: 9781945952647

Genre: SciFi

Rating: 2.8/5

Publishers Description: Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with the
Jenn Polish
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Holy wow -- I knew I needed space lesbians and casually nonbinary folks, but I didn't know I needed them quite this badly.

If you want bio-nerd scifi and fully developed characters with palpable chemistry and deep relationships and unlikely but powerful friendships, this is for you!

That said, heads up (and the book does give a trigger warning in the beginning pages!) for graphic violence, particularly of a speciesist type that bears horrific resemblance to this-world racist and ableist and spec
Dorian Graves
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Do you love scifi, but yearn for something truly strange and wonderful? The Ardulum series has everything you might want, starting here with book 1.
A ragtag but lovable crew in a battered ship who accidentally end up with a dangerous living weapon that could plunge their galaxy into chaos? Check. Bizarre aliens with unique cultures? Check. Strange powers and biologies inspired by fungi and wood science? Check! You'll also find space fights, treason, disappearing planets, alternate gender structu
*thank you to Netgalley and NineStar Press, LLC for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

2 stars.

This should have been a perfect match for me. Ya, Space, Aliens. But unfortunately I had such a hard time getting into it. It had parts that I enjoyed but they were short and few. I can see why others really enjoyed this, but either I was in the wrong frame of mind for it or it just wasn't for me. It was written really well, so its not that that isnthe issue. If I give this another ch
Jun 06, 2018 rated it really liked it

This was the May Sapphic book of the month for the Sapphic book club.

This was a fantastic sci-fi adventure romp, with engaging characters and fascinating diverse worldbuilding and species creation that makes me want a whole encyclopedia for it. I highly recommend it, with the only caveat/criticism being despite its upbeat plucky heros tone, things do not necessarily end well for everyone. I remember one moment specifically where a fairly central character essentially died off page, and there was
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
So, okay. This is going to be a weird review. This is not well-written, it's choppy with pieces missing. Like all of a sudden the character is complaining that her back hurts from bending over and what? But four paragraphs previously there is a small mention that the space ship is meant for much smaller creatures so the roof is really low. Like, that's such a cool and amazing detail but was just oddly written so easily skipped over.

And also? There is zero character development or motivation. Th
Ruby Cooper-Karl
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Ok so I loved the concept but the follow through failed me a bit. Some parts were really well written and made me want to stay up reading it but others just fell flat. What frustrated me the most probably was that I bought the book at a booth for books with LGBTQ+ characters and the author did no more than hint at it. It was a good book but definitely not a great book.
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
That was a fun read. Great pacing and characters. Surprised in a few places. It's the first of a series.
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was my choice for diverse read for Space Opera September. The author is nonbinary and several of the alien races have a third gender or are nonbinary. I also have a feeling books 2 and 3 will feature a F/F pairing (I apologize if I'm wrong).
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always looking for good sci fi or fantasy books. This fits the bill for sci fi. Lots of action, good characterization, interesting plot, aliens and their worlds, and a decrepit spaceship. Interestingly, Fields doesn't really describe what is different about Neek until the next book. I was curious how she differed from humans other than the stuk. Other than that. it's a fascinating read.
E.M. Hamill
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I read it in one night - it kept my interest and truly hit that space-opera loving side of me!

Neek is a cool character, the only one of her species to be currently exiled from her planet, so EVERYBODY in the universe knows that she screwed up, much to her chagrin. Her crime: questioning the quasi-scientific religion followed by everyone on Neek (the name of her planet, and and also every adult being on the planet so no one gets uppity and thinks they're better than anyone else). Neek is a pilot
William Tracy
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm very excited for this book, and for the eventual series! This is a fun space opera, where Earth is a small (and backward) part of the Chartered Systems. There are humans to draw us into the story, but the main character is an exiled alien, who must come to terms with discovering the gods of the religion she refused to believe. The species in this story are not only unique and strange, but believable, as is the technology. There are not only different genders, but different ways of growth, le ...more
L.M. Pierce
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
On the home planet of Neek, the Ardulan are revered as gods. Across the system, the Risalian empire is breeding genetically-engineered Ardulan descendants to be idiot savants in service to the keeping the peace across the Charted Systems. A child of that breeding program ends up in the hands of the one and only exile from Neek and her two human shipmates.

The book had a decently crafted cast of characters and an almost simplistic plotline. Fields started with a tight focus on our protagonists, a
Alice Wade
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways-arc
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating is 3.5, but I bumped up my star rating

Almost Exclusively Plot

Neek makes a living piloting a claptrap transport ship, the Mercy’s Pledge, smuggling not so legal good, across peaceful systems. Barely making ends meet she is burdened with a strange child that reminds her of the traveler planet, Ardulum. The Ardulans visited her home world long ago gifting Neek’s people with technology, art and agriculture.
Sara Codair
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq
I originally picked this book up because I wanted to study how the author used gender-neutral pronouns. Once I sunk my teeth it, I was so engrossed in the plot that I kept forgetting to pay attention to pronouns. NineStar Press’ editor really have a knack for acquiring good science fiction, as this is the second space opera series that’s really impressed me.

At first, the plot of Ardulum reminded me of Firefly: a ragged crew doing semi-legal transport on an antique ship picks up a stasis chamber
L.A. A. Ashton
May 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is another “holy shit” book. And by “holy shit” book, I mean “holy God guys, read this immediately.”


Ardulum is beautifully paced, charming as hell, and delivers mounting excitement throughout.

The first scene is strange, delivering the narrative in a way that’s a bit unconventional, but easy to follow. I balked when I first began, but as I read on I became deeply entrenched in the moment. The reader’s next scene is with Neek, and she immediately makes you feel at home. The Firefly vibes
Amy Mills
The first time I tried to read this, I got bogged down in the prologue, and never made it to the story proper. This time, I did better, and once the story started, I was drawn in. The story has a fairly breakneck pace, with lots happening all at once, and very little downtime. The more we learn about the Ardulans, the stranger things get. The resolution is mostly satisfactory, but there are several places where things are resolved through deus ex machina: (view spoiler) ...more
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Ardulum (4 books)
  • Ardulum: Second Don
  • Ardulum: Third Don
  • Tales from Ardulum

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