L.M. Pierce's Reviews > Ardulum: First Don

Ardulum by J.S.  Fields
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** spoiler alert ** ** I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review **

Space, a mysterious planet, galactic gods shrouded in myth and indoctrination, and the one who bucks her home world and is just fighting to stay alive. What’s not to like? The beginning does take some patience and I found it a little difficult to get into at first. We do get information to help us understand the circumstances that form the rest of the story, but it goes on a little too long. Once we get to the main characters and plot, the pace picks up and it becomes an epic space adventure. Kind of reminds me of the Mass Effect games.

I liked the way the universe unfolds and the artifacts and snips of conversation presented with each chapter. It added world building elements without bogging down the narrative. Once we get into the main story, I really enjoyed the immediate conflict for Neek, the main character, in coming face to face with not only the revered species her world worships, but the bane of Neek’s existence and reason for the exile from her home world. Neek is also an awesome character with little patience for bureaucracy and the manipulation of the masses through religion. All major +++ for me as a reader *grin* Liking Neek presented a problem, however, because there is quite a bit of POV hopping in different chapters. I would have preferred just the main characters POVs. This is a personal reader preference of mine, not commentary on whether it works well overall.

There’s some really cool “powers” explored in the novel and the concept of cellulose manipulation is fascinating. This is explored in several different ways throughout the novel. The attention to realistic detail within the context of the story helps even folks like me, with no interest in hard sci-fi, enjoy and understand what is happening and how it is happening.

I also LOVED the Mmnnuggls. Sentient beach balls? Yes, please! You, dear future reader, don’t know of them yet, but they are hilarious and made for some laugh-out-loud moments.

Some other reader preference nits: There are switches in POV that later felt like a waste of time because those characters end up being killed halfway through the book so it made me wonder why we spent so much time in their heads. It didn’t add anything for me and a major “villain” is killed halfway through, which also felt like a strange choice. There were also other elements of character development that I found inconsistent and one particular “gotcha” moment that is actually a pet peeve of mine.

Fields does an amazing job of promoting alternate gender/non-gendered identities (in this case, third gender) and I commend these portrayals. The only thing that disappointed me was the use of “hir” and “xe” as pronouns. This is an interstellar culture and those pronouns felt too earthly and “of the now” that it pulled me out of the story a bit. I would have loved a pronoun that reflected the values, culture, and evolved “future” (speculation) of what pronouns might be on different planets. However, this is far outweighed by the obvious LOVE of seeing representation on the page.

Overall, Ardulum is an excellent space adventure filled with memorable characters, delightful alien races, and mythical powers that will leave you questioning what is truly means to be a “god.” Also, taking a peek at the first chapter of Second Don, which is provided at the end of the first book, I’m really excited at the opening POV…

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Reading Progress

July 6, 2017 – Started Reading
July 6, 2017 – Shelved
July 6, 2017 –
page 22
July 6, 2017 –
page 71
July 7, 2017 –
page 80
July 18, 2017 –
page 130
August 16, 2017 –
page 206
August 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

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