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The Caledonian Gambit

(The Galactic Cold War #0)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,266 ratings  ·  159 reviews
The galaxy is mired in a cold war between two superpowers, the Illyrican Empire and the Commonwealth. Thrust between this struggle are Simon Kovalic, the Commonwealth’s preeminent spy, and Kyle Rankin, a lowly soldier happily scrubbing toilets on Sabea, a remote and isolated planet. However, nothing is as it seems.

Kyle Rankin is a lie. His real name is Eli Brody, and he fl
Kindle Edition, 314 pages
Published May 23rd 2017 by Talos
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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,266 ratings  ·  159 reviews

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"“You know what?” Brody said, his voice stressed to the breaking point. “I’m sick and tired of feeling like a pawn in some intergalactic game of chess. Ever since I left Sabaea, everybody wants to tell me a different story. Help this guy, don’t help that one, we need your help, nobody will get hurt, I promise. Why the bloody hell should I trust you?”"

It may take you a while to figure out who are the good guys and who aren’t…way longer if you are driven by a strong moral compass. But it won’t tak
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This isn't bad for a first book from an author. However, one of the top rated reviews here compares Caledonian Gambit to the Vorkosigan series, and I can assure you that it doesn't really compare to that in anyway (other than being a sci-fi book). The humor, characters and plot don't even come close to Bujold's work (the Vorkosigan books are my favorite sci-fi series - so it's a very high bar).

That being said, it was a pretty good spy-caper, as long as you're not expecting anything new or surpri
Chad Kohalyk
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, scifi
Dan's long-awaited first novel. Congratulations! Interesting mashing up of genres here. Some funny lines, but sometimes he tries too hard to be quippy. I don't know if all the cliched language is supposed to be an homage to old detective novels or what, but I found the language took me out of the book quite a few times. Storywise it is a pretty good romp though, and if you think there should be more Scots-Irish in space, this is your book! ...more
Jordan Atlas
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moren sets up a truly compelling world in his first novel. It feels like a cross between a Lois McMaster Bujold story and something out of Rainbow Six. Funny, smart, and I couldn't put it down by the end. The book was a pleasure to read and I'm looking forward to the next one. Highly recommended. ...more
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Caledonian Gambit is a political intrigue spy novel that happens to take occur in space. I noticed a lot of reviewers on Goodreads took exception to the fact that intelligence gathering and the effect of politics on family relationships took first billing over pure science fiction, but I don’t really have a problem with that. Sci-Fi has always been used to reflect upon human reality in that way.

I like the characters, despite what some of the grumblers felt about Eli Brody’s lack of competenc
Juliet Kavanagh
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't as good as the ones that come after it, but still worthy of a 5 star, and definitely worthy of a read. Think Le Carre crossed with sci fi. Love these books - one of my new favourite authors! ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a very fun detective/special ops/ space opera. I hope there are more in the series.
Dave Packard
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laser, audible
Just picked this up to mark the publishing of Dan’s new book. Enjoyed the intrigue, and family issues... I’ll be grabbing his new one soon!
Oct 15, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Given the title, cover and blurb, I thought it was a safe bet this was a sci-fi book. However, given that the vast majority of the events could just as easily take place in any modern day action novel, the sci-fi tag is a bit misleading. The story supposedly takes place a couple of centuries in the future, where wormholes have already been figured out and used to colonize multiple solar systems. So the fact that almost every other technology seems to have remained virtually unchanged is a bit of ...more
Once again, despite all the rave reviews for this "sci-fi" novel, I'm walking away. To me, this reads like the most typically mediocre spy thriller in the world, just in, every single bit of dialogue feels like the expected thing to say, and the characters all feel like total cardboard. I'm a third of the way through and there hasn't been a single unique or interesting situation, other than a wormhole shutting down and cutting a ship in half. That happens at the very beginning of th ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I rarely read space opera, but this was a bit slow for my taste. The attempt at humor was very cliche, which did not help. The book was not bad, just okay. I listened to the audiobook and the narration was good.
Mike Vrobel
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Action packed space adventure with a sense of humor

This was a fun read - I hope we get to return to this world in a follow up adventure!
Justin Counts
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read that did a great job of deepening the mystery as the plot unfolds. This made me more and more anxious to finish and get to the reveals while I had less and less time to read it.
Mary Soon Lee
This is the opening novel in "The Galactic Cold War" series, which, at least based on this first book, appears to combine elements of espionage, space opera, and military science fiction in what proved to be a thoroughly entertaining mix. There are two main protagonists, both of whom I liked. There's abundant humor. There's darkness sufficient to give the book some weight, but not so much that it becomes a bleak reading experience.

I'll mention two minor quibbles....

Firstly, I found the prologue
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was OK. It wasn't bad or particularly good, it was just OK. The protagonist was less interesting than the other characters (even the antagonist was more colorful and had more motivation). There were some witty dialogues, and a few short actions, otherwise it felt like a slow hike up a mountain.

(view spoiler)
William Bentrim
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Caldonian Gambit by Dan Moren

A repressive galactic imperium intends to conquer another star system when said star system destroys their access to the galaxy. A lone prisoner, Eli, finds himself scrubbing toilets for the intended victim. After five long years, Eli finds himself free but immersed in a plot to thwart the imperium he had served.

Moren does a nice job with his characters. Eli and his PTS is sadly demonstrative of many of our current service people coming home from the wars. Eli’s
Jo  (Mixed Book Bag)
Eli Brody does not fit anywhere. After all everyone thinks he is dead. That is the start to a thrill a minute space opera with some science mixed in. Eli is tasked to find who and what is being developed and used as a weapon and stop its use. He has to deal with family, spies, old gang members, and not knowing who to trust. This is a fun read with a very well developed plot, fully fleshed out characters, and good world building. This ended with the mystery solved but there could be a interesting ...more
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The narrative starts up quickly with some good space-fighting action, then turns to puzzling spy/ family drama. A good scifi spy novel with satisfying characters and just enough twists to keep you guessing. The interplanetary politics are fun, but ultimately, the dysfunctional family issues drove the plot for me.

For my full review:

For all my reviews:
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

While predictable most of the way through, I couldn't put down this space romp.

It's not hard science fiction, similar to The Expanse I'd say. Family members on opposite sides their allegiance to one another is tested.

Again, nothing new or wholly original, but when something is done well it hardly matters.
A pleasant easy read of a book. For long stretches, it didn’t even seem like SF, more like a terrestrial spy thriller, but the opening and the ending involves space flight, so it qualifies.
The story takes place over three action-packed days, principally following Eli Brody, a native of the planet Caledonia who, nine years earlier, left to join the Space Navy of the hated Illyrican overlords, as he had always wanted to fly. Unfortunately, his first and only mission was a disaster, and he’s been
Too many science fiction novels focus on the whiz-bang special effects, and then rely on stock characters with crystal-clear good / bad alignments. Fortunately, Moren's story is free of this defect: characters on all sides of the political & cultural divides in the novel are a blend of good and bad (and indifferent), giving the novel a healthy and welcome dose of reality.

Not that there aren't some whiz-bang battles and high-tech gadgets within. Moren drops hints along the way about the super-se
May 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The devil is in the details and the details are where this book fails. Oh, it's a competent enough spy story, it's just that the sci-fi aspect keeps wandering off. Far too much of the book felt like it was taking place on Earth in the present day. That wouldn't have been a fatal flaw if it weren't for the lack of stakes, a problem that also largely goes back to the worldbuilding. Caledonia, the Illyrican Empire, the Commonwealth...the audience has no preset investment in the well-being of any of ...more
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a first book, it's a very good effort. More has done a good job of establishing the universe he's working in, giving us just enough to whet our appetites without weighing us down with details. I could have wished for a little more world building in the details of Caledonia. At times it felt like the technology of the world was 21st century, not 26th, as far in time from us forward as Columbus is, backward.

As for the story itself, that's where it shines. Moren has a knack for snappy dialogue,
May 13, 2020 marked it as unfinished  ·  review of another edition
DNF - 43%

This is actually my first did not finish.

The book is just boring, I don't know how else to say it. Almost halfway through the book and nothing interesting has happened. The characters are bland, and the dialogue is mediocre at best, laughable and cliché at worst.

I'm also not sure what the point of setting a book in the future and on another planet is if it's all going to be a carbon copy of Earth and have nothing that we do not currently have. This is a society that has somehow figure
Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had put this book on my list, as it seemed to combine spies and space opera. Plus it was a new author, to me, so something to try out. A friend of mine had read it and gave me the book. I wanted to like it, but could never really get into it.

The plot is basic and is told without serious twists. Two political entities at war, a special ops team, and a lost pilot that could save the galaxy. A super weapon that will change the tide of the war.

Here, the characters are flat. No one is really inte
Jeffrey Grant
This book was hard for me to stay with because it kept plucking at my suspension of disbelief, daring it to unravel.

About a third of the book feels like science fiction - spaceships, FTL travel in space, galactic superpowers competing with each other in morally dubious ways. But then we get to the planet where a lot of the plot takes place and suddenly all of that futurism disappears. Descriptions of buildings, jobs, transportation, and everything have no resemblance to anything sci-fi at all.
Kevin Liebergen
Mar 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'd like to let you know that this book has done nothing but fill me with regret. Not just a little regret, but the deep down burning ember in the pit of your stomache type of regret.

1) I regret that it took me so long to get around to reading it. I've been a listener of Dan's podcasts for years so I knew that it existed. I have no excuse for why this took so long. Laziness, maybe? Who knows! Don't be like me! Stop waiting and read it now!

2) I regret that I will have to rate this only a 5 out of
May 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nope
Feels like it's trying really, really hard to be a old-timey romp, then squished into a sci-fi box.

He put up a hand automatically to steady himself and felt it make contact with a decidedly non-masculine body part. His cheeks flushed red as he looked down to find a short woman staring at his hand, a somewhat flummoxed look on her face. “Christ,” he said, snatching his hand back as though he’d pulled out a hot pan without an oven mitt. “I’m sorry,” he managed. “It was an—” “Accident?” said the wo
Rich Saskal
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a matter of public record - Dan Moren is a Star Wars fan.

So it's probably little surprise to see some 'Star Wars' echoes in his entertaining debut as a sci-fi novelist.

It's in the atmospherics -- the dusty backwater planet, an empire, rebels the frustrated kid who yearned to to escape it by becoming a space pilot. Not to draw the analogy too far -- this space opera is set in here in this galaxy, in our future, and there are no aliens.

It's an adventure, a race against time in the service of
Daniel Tan
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Moren sets up a story that is not all about the lasers and more about the characters. There are a few holes that I would've enjoyed more fill-ups, but the premise and the story were great to read. It got me caught in the flow of the story and invested in the characters enough to want to know what happened to them.

I'd say that it wasn't always paced at the same rate, and slightly more rushed nearer to the end, but it was still a good enough pace to read and consume what was being given, especiall
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Dan Moren is the author of the Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi spy novels, including The Aleph Extraction and The Bayern Agenda, as well as The Caledonian Gambit. His work has also appeared in The Boston Globe,, Yahoo Tech, The Magazine, Tom's Guide, TidBITS, Six Colors, and Macworld, where he formerly worked as a senior editor.

Dan's also a regular panelist on the Parsec-award-winnin

Other books in the series

The Galactic Cold War (5 books)
  • Pilot Error (The Galactic Cold War, #0.5)
  • The Bayern Agenda (The Galactic Cold War, #1)
  • Showdown (The Galactic Cold War, #1.5)
  • The Aleph Extraction (The Galactic Cold War, #2)

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