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The Defense of Exeter Station

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At the turn of the twenty-ninth century, the Milky Way is on the verge of a galactic war. The Combined Systems Alliance continues to expand their territory—much to the displeasure of the Free Planetary Union who, until now, lacked the resources to halt the encroachment. In a bid to wrest control from the Alliance and retake their former colonies, Union agents throughout the Alliance Fleet organize a mass insurgency seizing countless assets. During the ensuing chaos, numerous ships are decimated and millions of lives are lost.

Retired Alliance Commander Tanic Sandorn finds himself stranded on a border station after the Union launches an all-out assault. Fighting against anxieties from the incident that pushed him into early retirement, Sandorn accepts being recalled to active duty and propelled to the front lines. This time, he will protect his crew and the inhabitants of the Exeter star system from any approaching threat—never again will he leave anyone behind.

But outnumbered, outgunned, and outflanked, Exeter Station is left running at a fraction of its operating capacity. Sandorn and the Alliance officers on board must strategize quickly and carefully to hold their ground, or they will be forced to surrender the station, the system, and their lives.

This space opera combines the epic fleet combat of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, the character development and subversion of Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and the world-building of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.

210 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 27, 2020

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About the author

Thom Bedford

2 books5 followers
Thom grew up in suburban Cheshire, England with his parents and brother. Since childhood he has had a propensity for creativity, whether it be writing, building models, painting, designing graphics and technology, or programming.

After studying Computer Science at The University of Manchester, he started working as a Software Developer. Following in his father’s footsteps, he worked as a Technical Consultant in London for several years, then in Data Warehousing back in Manchester.

In his spare time, Thom still writes, build models, paints, and programs, but nowadays he also listens to a lot of music, watches a lot of films, reads, and enjoys playing video games.

His love for science fiction comes from blockbuster films like Starship Troopers, Star Wars and Star Trek. B-movies like Wing Commander, Pitch Black, and Iron Sky. TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse, and Stargate. Video games like Homeworld, EVE-Online, and Stellaris. Books like Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series, Jasper T. Scott’s Dead Space series, and David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. In other words, sci-fi—particularly space opera—in any media.

Thom currently lives in Cheshire, England, with his wife Helen and their two cats.

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Displaying 1 - 12 of 12 reviews
Profile Image for Shalini.
2,506 reviews199 followers
June 30, 2020
A scifi thriller which was unstoppable in its pace and smooth in its writing. Author Thom Bedford, in his debut, had whacked this one out of the park with twists, action, and unexpected events.

At the galactic war, retired Commander Sandhorn found himself called to active duty when the antagonists were set to attack Exeter Station. It was a fight for their lives, for their very freedom.

The first thing I experienced while going into this book was pure action while Sandhorn and his team dealt with a life threatening event. And the story did not let up. Not that it was only action. No ways. The author with his deft writing gave me enough downtime to understand the story and the main characters. A tinge of romance was also weaved in which was quite cute and nicely done without jarring the prose.

This was an action thriller, but what I especially liked was that it didn’t overwhelm me with its details. Some of the books generally add so many details that envisioning the spaceship would be beyond me. But here, the writing gave me powerful imagery which could be followed by everyone even those who didn’t normally read this genre.

The story was a fight for freedom, where every hand was on deck. A few shocking incidents, and I knew that Exeter Station was at risk. I liked how the author explained the governance in the outer Milky Way. But it was Commander Sandhorn who stood out. He was real, he had his personal issues, but that did not come in the way of his responsibilities. He dealt with it.

Everything in me supported Sandhorn. He was cool and collected and knew how to lead his team. It was obvious that the author had envisioned his main character quite carefully. His actions during the crisis made me gasp in awe.

I couldn’t end the review without mentioning the thrilling last fight where the author sure built up some adrenaline in me making me grip my kindle harder and long for book 2.

A fun breakfast read.
Profile Image for Nastaran Maasoomi.
106 reviews5 followers
May 19, 2023

"This space opera adventure novel contains epic fleet combat, detailed world-building, a diverse cast of characters, and a dash of romance. All the best parts of science fiction."
I am grateful to the dear author who provided me with a copy of his thesis. I enjoyed reading this book. I liked the author's descriptions of tactics and warfare. 
The general theme of the story was readable. I think the book needs to be edited in terms of punctuation in order to offer a better reading experience to the audience.
Profile Image for Stanley McShane.
Author 10 books40 followers
June 28, 2020
Tannic Sandorn is an ex-naval officer commanding a space freighter in a future galaxy. This author develops his narrative with satisfying attention to detail. The ideas are his own and I enjoyed the development of the plot. Mixing a little romance between the ship's senior officer and his pilot added a satisfying romance to the tale. I found myself pushed to read the story in a short period of time.

Treachery is a brisk drink quickly swallowed. An interstellar power grab is foisted on the hero in an extremely rapid fashion. As in most armed insurrections, there is a total disregard for life by the revolutionaries.

The use of many female officers in the defense of the Exeter Station was very illuminating. Like the ladies in England during WW II, the station is defended by both men and women. The author shows no sexual bias towards the combatants in this narrative. I particularly enjoyed the character of Rosso, a non-licensed pilot of the ship and Durand a highly skilled engineer who keeps the vessel operative. Both women were characters of unflinching loyalty and exceptional grit.

Even faced against overwhelming odds the crew is able to save the space station. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the docking procedures and methods of cueing up the service at the station. Thom has added some graphics that added visual embellishments to his story. This was an added plus which I really applaud.

Don’t expect to put this book down or plan a slow read. It will not happen. The usage of deception and sleuthing to find how the revolutionaries worked is clever. The loss of an entire ship's company in a gruesome manner is eye-opening. This book was true to that expectation of an armed insurrection. I highly recommend this book as a great escapist read, engaging, and entertaining. We received the digital download in exchange for a blog blitz and review.

See my full review at https://rosepointpublishing.com/2020/...
Profile Image for Steven Allen.
953 reviews15 followers
May 29, 2020
I received an advance review copy for free from Book Sirens, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

As a long time fan of space opera, and having read many of the authors that this author mentioned, I had high hopes for The Defense of Exeter Station by Thom Bedford. As a disabled retired veteran of the US Navy and US Army, I am sensitive to egregious military errors.

Bedford shows great promise, his writing is concise, and the world is interesting and well developed. I like how the characters develop through The Defense of Exeter Station. Character details are sparse but enough to form your own mental image. Bedford does a good job showing not telling and his dialogue is easy to follow.

All good space opera has an element of romance, the main character can practically be a sexless monk (Honor Harrington), or follow the Captain Kirk model and screw everything possible. There is a light romance element in The Defense of Exeter Station. Sex is not graphic and is FTB. Only problem I have with the romance in The Defense of Exeter Station is that most navies have fraternizing rules and the MC in this book tromps all over any fraternization rule I’ve ever been familiar with.

For military fiction, The Defense of Exeter Station I noted is rather acronym light. The military is rather famous for using a plethora of civilian confusing acronyms (for instance referring to the B-52 bomber as the BUFF, i.e. - Big Ugly Flying F@%*er). In long established space opera (Honor Harrington by David Weber, Kris Longknife by Mike Moscoe, The Lost Fleet by Jack Campbell, etc.) acronyms are well established and an entrenched part of military culture.

I also noted that The Defense of Exeter Station is very weapons description light. Now this could be purposeful by Bedford as he might be unfamiliar with shipboard weaponry. Keeping weapons generic by writing lasers, rail guns, missiles and drones does not bog the action down and was well done.

Speaking of weapons, why didn’t the ships or crews protecting Exeter Station have mines? A couple of well placed, and cloaked nuclear or bomb-pumped laser mine fields would have wreaked havoc on the inbound Union ships. What about remote controlled weapon platforms? For such an old and important station, I felt that Exeter Station was very poorly protected. Now, granted the lack of mines and weapon platforms made defending the station harder on the Alliance, which may have been Bedford’s goal.

I also noted a distinct lack of profanity in The Defense of Exeter Station. One of the hardest things adjusting to civilian life was reducing how much profanity I used, especially a certain a four letter word. During combat, of which I had the misfortune to experience, profanity was the second language we spoke. The language during combat in The Defense of Exeter Station has to be the cleanest I have read in recent memory.

I did note a certain lack of humor in The Defense of Exeter Station. Not sure if the lack of humor was purposeful by the author as he is writing “serious space opera” or just didn’t make it into the book.

The thing that I dislike the most about The Defense of Exeter Station is how the author confuses enlisted personnel and officers – they are two very different military specialties. Officers accept a commission for a number of years (usually from four to six). Enlisted personnel go through an enlistment ceremony performed by a commissioned officer agreeing by oath to serve for a period of years, usually from two to six years. Officers do not reenlist. Jack Campbell (AKA John G. Hemry) is a retired US Navy surface officer and does not confuse enlisted and officer ranks.

I’m not sure if the author is following the Star Trek model where everyone is an officer and does everything. The only modern navy where the officers did everything was the former Soviet Union, and that was because the officers were educated while many of the Russian conscripts were not and some conscripts were even illiterate.

If the author is using a different navy organization type (i.e. – everybody is an officer) he needs to make that clearer. If assigning a Chief Petty Officer as the Chief Engineer is done under an emergency, then Bedford needs to make that clear.

A Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO - E7) would not be the Chief Engineer on a cruiser (commonly referred to as the CHENG in the US Navy) except in emergency situations (i.e. – he or she is the most senior surviving engineer). Perhaps a CPO might be the CHENG on very small craft such as riverine patrol boats, and other small craft. Most cruisers have a full commander or a very senior lieutenant commander as the chief engineer.

Where was the ship’s Main Propulsion Assistant (MPA)? Second in the command chart under the CHENG in the engineering division, the MPA is usually a lieutenant or a senior lieutenant junior grade. The MPA is responsible for all of the auxiliary equipment that supports main engineering.
During a war recall of veterans and call up of qualified civilians, I was surprised that there were no Mustangs. Mustangs are officers that previously were enlisted and they tend to be some of the best officers to serve under. Warrant and Limited Duty Officers were also missing, but that is getting far into the weeds in military ranks.

Enlisted personnel are the specialists and officers are the managers. It would not be the CHENG crawling though the bowels of the ship, it would be enlisted personnel. The CHENG wasn’t standing hip-deep in water slugging tubes in the boilers that was me and the rest of the enlisted engineers. It was the CHENG’s responsibility to schedule maintenance and ensure we had the tools to perform repairs and maintenance.

As this is the first book in what I hope is going to be a series, it will be interesting to see how bitter this war becomes between the Alliance and the Union. Could we see concentration camps such as happened during the Boer Wars and most famously, during World War Two?

TLDR: I hope the author has another book in this series following The Defense of Exeter Station. I would like to see what happens to the characters, but I also want to see how the author’s writing skills improve. If listed for a reasonable price on Amazon Kindle, I would certainly purchase The Defense of Exeter Station and the (hopeful) book following it.
Profile Image for Dot Miller.
335 reviews3 followers
July 20, 2020
The Defense of Exeter Station

By Thom Bedford

Wow! I Want More!

The Defense of Exeter Station starts with a bang as a heavy jolt throws Tanic Sandorn, the owner and captain of the Kadpass, out of his bunk, onto his desk and eventually onto the floor. He scrambled to get to Engineering where he discovered that one of the cooling chambers had exploded. He joined his chief engineer, Sara Durand, as the two of them worked frantically to stop the main core from exploding and turning the ship and crew into space dust. The Kadpass was a medium sized interstellar Beluga Class hauler that was headed to Exeter Station for trading. Now they would also be putting in for repairs.

The Exeter system is the last outpost of Alliance space before the fringe worlds. About an hour before their arrival at Exeter Station, they find numerous warnings about travel to the fringe worlds. In addition, there are about 600 ships waiting to dock at the Station; however, Sandorn was previously in the Fleet and requests permission to manually dock. Since they were able to dock without waiting for the other 600 ships ahead of them awaiting auto-docking, Sandorn was able to arrange for repairs sooner than expected and at a far lesser cost than anticipated.

The following morning, the Station broadcasts to every room that all Navy personnel are required to report to their ships for a 9 AM departure. The broadcast awakens Sandorn from a nightmare concerning his former military service and he takes the time to check the news on his datapad. It’s not good; war is coming between the Combined Systems Alliance and the Free Planetary Union, or in other words, the fringe worlds.

This exciting story is about Sandorn; his navigator and pilot, as well as his girlfriend, Ami Rosso; and his chief engineer, Sara Durand, as they either enlist or re-enlist (Sandorn) in the Alliance Fleet and join in the defense of Exeter Station. Ever since I read the Lieutenant Leary series by David Drake and the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell, I find that I love sci-fi novels that have military action. This book ranks right up there with the talent of Drake and Campbell. Mr. Bedford is a fresh new voice in this genré and has captured the various characters, their emotions, the action and the aftermath with superb attention to detail. This book nicely wraps up the story, but I can’t wait to read his next novel, which I hope will be soon, and which I hope continues with these characters!
Profile Image for Gilbert Stack.
Author 61 books52 followers
June 14, 2020
The Defense of Exeter Station is the story of an important early military action in a complex war between the Alliance and the Union. Part of the complexity of the novel is that neither the Alliance nor the Union appear to be particularly admirable political entities. The Alliance is a military and economic powerhouse that has been using its resources to take advantage of a large number of colonial systems. Many of those systems resent the domination by the Alliance core systems and accuse the Alliance government of having created a government that gives the pretense of political participation to the colonies without any real influence or power. The Alliance, quite understandably, sees matters differently.

The Union, on the other hand, is also a highly disturbing political entity. While it tries to position itself on the moral high ground, it is the power that initiates violent hostilities and it does so by recruiting thousands of agents inside the Alliance military and key civilian locations and using them to commit acts of mutiny and sabotage that cripple the Alliance fleet and kill millions of people. There’s also something unsettling about the style of Union propaganda that gives their government an almost cultish atmosphere.

After hostilities commence, Exeter Station discovers that the new political realities have changed it into an Alliance border system with badly weakened defenses and a Union fleet on the way to take possession of it. The whole novel revolves around the determination of a few Exeter personnel to prevent that from happening.

The Defense of Exeter Station is a very exciting novel. As Exeter Station attempts to rebuild its sabotage-weakened defenses in time to stop the Union from capturing it, a mystery ship—possibly a ghost ship—enters Exeter’s proximity further complicating their situation. They have a serious staffing shortage and very little reach thanks to their lack of a defensive fleet. This is really the crux of the novel—can Exeter solve the mystery of the ghost ship and can they create a plan that will bring the enemy ships into reach of Exeter’s superior firepower? Watching the heroes grapple with this issue makes for a great story.

I received this book free from Voracious Readers Only in exchange for an honest review.

If you liked this review, you can find more at www.gilbertstack.com/reviews.

Profile Image for Gordon Long.
Author 27 books33 followers
December 22, 2022
To enjoy Science Fiction, the reader must suspend the disbelief that all those technological wonders are possible. Fans of Space Opera need to practise this technique to a greater degree, because the situations and the coincidences are even harder to believe. We are willing to trade this effort for the enjoyment we get from the story.

This novel does a very good job of helping us to believe in the technological elements. The battle scenes that take up a good portion of the story tend to follow standard patterns for the genre, making them easy to follow. Ship maneuvers are well plotted and tactics well visualized. On-ship destruction is detailed and subjective, and suspense is powerful. The action feels possible and important to us.

When it comes to convenient coincidences, the author is a bit too free-and-easy. Given the complexity of the technology, it is a stretch to believe, for example, that Sandorn’s civilian crew could merge so easily into prominent positions in the military. This is mitigated to some degree by the fact that we like them so much that we want them to succeed. Also, I wondered at how luring the marines to attack the station would have helped the space battle in any way, but I leave it up to readers to decide.

Personally, I did have a problem with one event. In the altered reality of the genre, it is quite acceptable in a battle situation with large spaceships for thousands of lives to be lost. That’s the inevitable result of real wars, too. However, I have a problem with an author cold-bloodedly killing off a crew of 350 “good guys” as a plot device so that the hero can have a ship to take over. It just feels wrong, and the hero’s ability to cope emotionally with the situation undermines the PTSD conflict that has helped to make him sympathetic.

And the book really needs some proof-reading help. Constant misuse of hyphens and dashes, especially in numbers, is distracting, as are getting “lay” and “laid” mixed up, and sentence structure errors and misplaced phrases are frequent. Point of view is loosely controlled, as we slip from one character’s head to another in the middle of a chapter. The standards for English are pretty low in this genre, but when there are enough errors to distract us from the story, it needs to be mentioned.

This is an entertaining example of Space Opera with especially good action sequences and likeable characters but asks us to suspend our belief in reality a little too much.

This review was originally published in Reedsy Discovery.
Profile Image for Peter Baran.
535 reviews33 followers
June 29, 2020
Military / Fleet Science Fiction is a big subgenre for all number of reasons. War has always been a source of good storytelling, and if you are inventing a future world, its a nice narrative hook to hang it on. Then considering the drama inherent in hierarchies, whilst being able to do conflict without having to deal with the discomfort of taking a side in mundane Earth conflicts where being on the right side is much more a matter of opinion than morality.

The Defense Of Exeter Station is a pretty solid example of the genre. We are in an indiscriminate future, Earth has spread amongst the stars. It is a settler vs alliance type story, though the story of the expansion is in no way explained there are enough books like this to just assume that we are looking at an analog of manifest destiny. There are lots of independent worlds, and there is now an alliance that is hoping to unite them (and thus a counter-alliance which is suspicious of this). One of the nice things is that while the politics here are loose, there is enough wiggle room to consider that the the Alliance here - with their huge military - are the bad guys. Since their opposition seems to be largely filled of ships which have mutinied, one assumes there is more where that came from.

This is not complex stuff, its is at its heart a siege novella, and has to introduce its characters and set up the problem. And even though the psychological issues of its lead are a little off the shelf (lost a lot of crew in a previous conflict, was treated as a hero but doesn't feel like one), the characterisation is good. I read it in pretty much one sitting and whilst the world building as yet needs a fair bit more filling in, I would be keen to read more.

Profile Image for Emily Pennington.
16.5k reviews205 followers
June 26, 2020
This wasn’t a book that I could immediately say that I loved. I had a hard time picking which side I was supposed to be cheering for! The Alliance was making every effort to expand their territory while the Union tried to stop their encroachment. The rest got sorted out, however, as I read further into the story line.

What I do love is the active battle going on right from the first page and the descriptive details provided to pull me into the story. So if it’s action you want, then this book will satisfy!
Profile Image for Wanda Jewell.
881 reviews3 followers
June 22, 2020
This is a good space battle book. I liked the main characters. The story line was interesting. This was a very good read and I enjoyed it. I would recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Profile Image for Jim Arrowood.
99 reviews3 followers
November 13, 2022
I received a copy of this book for free and am leaving this review voluntarily.

Sandorn's Command is a military sci-fi space opera story following the exploits of Tanic Sandorn during a time when war breaks out between two factions in the galaxy. It is an original story that has flavors from several various influences in science fiction and are brought together in a well written, entertaining, and intriguing story that will - I hope - become a series of novels. I learned about this tale when the author contacted me via email, inviting me to review his work. It is an easy book to read and unfolds as a film might and is told mostly from Sandorn's point of view.

Tanic Sandorn commands his small shuttle as it plies among the stars delivering items between planets and space stations. An accident aboard his vessel, the Kadpass, forces him to put in at Exeter Station, a huge orbital space station in where goods and services are offered. The station also hosts a military contingent from the predominant governing body of its area of space known as the Combined Systems Alliance.

Sandorn and his crew of three disembark their ship to Exeter, where they enjoy the amenities while their shuttle undergoes repairs. They soon learn that another opposing faction, the Free Planetary Union, is making headway as they bid to overthrow the Alliance. The Alliance's resources and personnel are wearing thin as the Union continues to gain strength while taking over in system after system.

Sandorn, a former officer in the Alliance Navy, is reinstated at his former rank of commander if he will serve. After some soul-searching, he rejoins the Navy, and two of his three crewmembers - one he has an intimate relationship with - also sign on. The fourth member of the crew refuses the offer and has sympathies for the Union.

When it is known the Union has a fleet headed for Exeter, preparations are made and plans are drawn up for a defense. The Alliance need a decisive victory against the Union. Exeter Station could be an immense turning point in the war for dominance in the galaxy.

I enjoyed the characters in Sandorn's Command. They are all very human, with strengths and weaknesses that brought them to life for me and quickly became people I could care about. Sandorn himself is a person I want to get to know better. He is a good person who knows his business and understands his role as a commander. As a civilian, Sandorn is a laid-back character who is enjoying life as a shuttle commander with his small crew, but when the time comes for him to step up and command, he does so with an even-handedness that immediately endeared him to me. He is of good character and believes himself to be on the right side of the conflict.

Sandorn is surrounded by characters who enjoy various degrees of development depending on their importance to the story. There is still a lot of character development to be made as the saga continues in future stories, which I am looking forward to with great enthusiasm.

Nearly every character in this story is heroic, but they aren't looking to be so. They are just doing their jobs as best they can, using what little they have to work with.

My favorite point of plot is very short, it almost seems insignificant considering the surrounding action taking place. But it is something I cannot get out of my mind after reading, and I think it will be a huge part of future installments.

The Story is told from the Alliance point of view, so far. We really learn little about the Union in this opening novel, but there is a point that some doubt is cast when Sandorn visits with the former shuttle crewmember. Maybe all isn't what it appears to be, and the Union isn't all wrong in their goals for unseating the Alliance as the dominant governing body in the galaxy.

That particular plot point haunts me and I really want to learn more.

My takeaway from Sandorn's Command is to beware of what one believes. Beliefs aren't facts, and there are always three sides to every story. In this case, there is the Alliance's story, the Union's story, and somewhere in between, there is the truth. We have yet to get the Union story, and the truth is clouded for the time being.

The themes in this book have many influences of the author’s fandoms, and it really moves the story along. I recognized elements borrowed from many of my own favorite franchises, making this book a fun and interesting read. I didn't want to set it aside for even a minute and was disappointed only in that it had to come to an end.

Sandorn's Command is a great story with familiar themes, but done in an original way that is comforting to read. It is full of fast-paced action, good character development, leaving room for future discovery. I recommend this book as fine sci-fi for any fan, particularly those who love space opera, as I do. I also think that anyone would enjoy this book, sci-fi fan or not. It isn't overly cluttered with jargon or difficult technical things to veil an outstanding story.

My highest recommendations for an immensely entertaining read.
Profile Image for Amber.
170 reviews21 followers
May 5, 2023
Review posted on my blog The Writer's Library.

It’s hard for me to say what story introduced me to science fiction. One look at my bookshelf and you’ll see many different novels spanning many different genres. I do remember thinking to myself last year that it had been a while since I picked up a science fiction work. As a result, that entire summer, I mainly read in that genre alone and I signed up for a women in literature course for my final semester with a special focus on science fiction (although at the time I did not know it was science fiction-based).
Fast-forward to now, and I am discovering every time I pick up a book in this genre what my tastes are, what moves me, and what connects with me. So, when I was made aware of Thom Bedford’s work, I was curious about the story he was aiming to tell.
Before we get into the specifics, though, we should get a summary for the story.
We open to Tanic Sandorn and his crew on a ship called the Kadpass heading for Exeter Station. Once the crew reaches the station, they find that two opposing factions – the Combined Systems Alliance and the Free Planetary Union – are declaring war. With a military background, Sandorn is called to reenlist in the conflict, only to find that he has a difficult time trusting the motives of either side after a ship called the Scorpion arrives at Exeter station, carrying a deceased crew.
Meanwhile, the higher-ups in the Alliance must contend with frequent turncoats in their crew. With the threat of war drawing ever-closer, Sandorn and the Alliance must contend with the growing threat.
Will they be able to make peace before the conflict boils over?
One thing that I noticed with this novel is that Thom Bedford does a fantastic job building tension and keeping the reader hooked on the story! Right from the start, I was drawn in! From the moment we learn about the war between the Free Planetary Union and the Alliance, I was curious. I will also say I really like how Bedford creates tension by having Sandorn question his side’s motives – in part because the more I learned, the more I was questioning what was going on – but it provides a fantastic hook for the next book!
The way the dissension and mutinies are presented is what makes this so interesting to me. From what Sandorn and his friends discover on the ghost ship Scorpion to Anderton constantly having to worry about turncoats in her own crew, both things create great tension and intrigue that kept me interested and suspicious of, well, everyone. If an author can make the reader not trust what may come next, or question what exactly is happening versus what is painted on the surface, they can build a story that holds the audience until the end. It is fundamental to keep your audience wanting more or questioning whatever comes next, because this can build a plotline that will stay with them.
Tanic Sandorn
Right off the bat, I like Sandorn a lot. I can tell he cares very much for his friends and crew. Thom Bedford builds a story of tragedy for this character, where he is haunted by some of his past actions, and to see him deal with that is heart wrenching. However, seeing him in command of the Scorpion shows that he is not a rookie at all and knows how to take charge when he must. This provides both tension for the narrative and rounds out his character. He is not just steeped in self-doubt – he can take control.
I like how he interacts with his subordinates as well. The two major ones are Durand and Rosso because they were with him on the Kadpass before the situation with the Scorpion and he sees both as more than just his subordinates. There is even some romance with Rosso, which I find interesting because of how he conducts himself publicly versus in private. Both Rosso and Durand have seen who he really is as an individual, not just as their boss.
Elice Anderton
Now, Anderton is someone that I have mixed feelings about, mainly because as the war begins, the seed is planted that neither side can be trusted. My feelings about her are familiar – I felt like this with another novel I read recently – and I am not yet sure where I stand. Part of me feels for her, but part of me is keeping an eye on her.
That said, seeing her in action as the plot unfolds is awesome! I particularly like her relationship with Moh Gray. Seeing her go to him in times of need, or even to tell him exciting news, painted a picture of two people that have known and trusted each other for a long time, and I find that heartwarming. Even if my opinion of her ends up changing as I continue with this story, I like that she is portrayed as a regular person and not just the cold superior to Sandorn.
Sara Durand
I need to talk a bit about Durand before I close this section. Basically put, I love seeing her take charge with her duties! While she needs to report to a superior, she not only does her job – she cares about it, and she cares about others. Every time she is in the presence of a victim or someone who is deceased, she reacts in such a way that shows she cares and feels for them. It would not surprise me if deep down she wished the conflict wasn’t an issue and the two sides could live peacefully. She hates seeing the destruction, and I love all her reactions to what the war does to others.
I am thinking about when she and Sandorn first enter the Scorpion. Seeing her get so enraged when she sees what is on the ship made something clench in my chest. She doesn’t just blindly do her job and move on – if she sees something that is not right, she reacts with clear care and compassion for the victims and wants justice for them. Her reactions show clear desire to do what is right for those impacted.
I am trying to think about how to best describe the structure. Bedford is trying to do two main things with this story: Establish the war between the two factions and set up Sandorn’s backstory with the Veloz because it impacts his character significantly. The way the story is set up makes it so that these two elements intertwine seamlessly, so neither feels like it’s intruding on the other element. They can coexist without the experience becoming overwhelming. The setup for the plot happens very early on with the Scorpion coming into view of Alliance territory, and then the incoming fleet.
Speaking of the fleet and the battle it starts, I do have one main issue with how the combat is set up. The way Thom Bedford writes close combative situations is compelling, but when the combat is between two ships shooting weapons at each other, it lacks the tension of close combat because we don’t see the people shooting. Perhaps something that could have been done to rectify this is have both. Have the ships shooting at each other while one or two enemy combatants try to get in before the last stand. That way, the reader gets a small taste of what is to come and is eager for more.
Now, when it comes to the prose, I can tell that the world has been built with great care. Each sentence in this story functions to either add to the setting or create conflict. Thom Bedford’s writing has a spark behind it that keeps the reader invested in almost anything that is going on. He is not afraid to be realistic in his descriptions, painting a disturbing picture of war in space while adding tension to the conflicts in the story.
I think a fantastic example of the writing is the flashback scene with the Veloz. As Sandorn leaves the ship, an injured crew member calls out to him. Bedford’s prose paints the full horror of what just happened, showing that war – in any form – is a nightmare for all involved. In that scene, Bedford also shows the beginnings of Sandorn’s guilt relating to his actions that day. It is incredibly tragic and shows why Sandorn struggles to move on from it.
I enjoyed this one! The tension in the story kept me hooked, and I am curious about how the rest of this will unfold! Sandorn and his friends are all incredibly likable and the society they are a part of is very interesting to see. Despite the issues I had with how the conflict was handled, I do not think that that takes away too much from being able to enjoy this.
In the end, I would recommend this to science fiction/space opera fans craving stories about galactic warfare and the fallout from such conflicts. Bedford can build tension and relationships with ease, and those two things keep the story easy to stay hooked on, because it is easy to find yourself asking about what comes next. In the end, this is a tense ride with a compelling world that I am ready to visit again!
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