Embers of War by Gareth Powell – A book review

Embers of War is the first book in a new Sci-Fi space opera series. It is likened to the sprawling epics of Reynolds and Hamilton but in my mind falls just short of these greats.

The focus of the first book is on the sentient ex-warship the ‘Trouble Dog’ who is now plying its trade as a search and rescue ship in the House of Reclamation.

I found the novel hard to get into at first because of the writing style, and this is not necessarily the authors fault, more my own. The novel is written in the first person but each chapter the subject whose eyes you are seeing through changes, this can make it hard to keep up with everything and everybody. Once I had adjusted to this and managed to get a feel for each character a little more I really started to enjoy the book.

Trouble Dog is perhaps, the strongest and more interesting character. We have seen sentient ships before but Powell adds a greater depth to this one. It has a great backstory, having been part of a mass genocide and then having to decide what to do once the war is over.

This book is very much a set up for the series, we get to understand the universe people are living, who the main players are and get some suggestion of future peril. It serves as an entry into a thoughtful space opera exploring themes of redemption and control, I look forward to subsequent entries but if Powell wants to rival the big boys he needs to pick up his pace and expand upon the big ideas and characterisations a bit more.

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