Embers of War Trilogy by Gareth L. Powell – A Book Review

Despite the pandemic my reading has actually slowed down. For one I choose the exceptionally long Brandon Sanderson Way of Kings to read and much the rest of my reading time assigned to American Civil War texts to help complete the first year of my MA in Military History. I did however manage to finish Gareth L. Powell trilogy. I read these two books back to back and this helped me to keep straight in my had the characters involved. When you read, or did read at least a book a week of Sci-Fi fantasy it can be difficulty to keep everything in your head straight when reading multi arc epics.

The series is very much a space opera and Powell is a rising star, he is no master like Peter F. Hamilton or Alastair Reynolds but he is very much on his way. He created a believable universe with an interesting if somewhat formulaic threat. The hidden enemy long to return is common in literature and authors need to real spin this in a new direction to make it work for me these days.

Powell’s greatest achievements in these books are two things, one the representation of AI warships. The hero, Trouble Dog was given a strong voice and one that was different to the human characters, it is one of the best portrayls of ship minds an AI I have read and secondly his inclusion of the Druff. The Druff are a great alien race, well thought out and with a non-human way of thinking, well just enough human like for us to understand. These two points make all three novels worth a read.

The plot is large in scope but our protagonists are small in size giving us the everyday view of the problem and how the decisions of ordinary people can have galactic effects. What was lacking was some depth to one of the protagonists. The became a little moustache twirling, which is fine in some books but didn’t seem to fit the characterisation of the rest of the cast of characters. Nevertheless, Powell is a writer I will be watching with interest, he has the skill and imagination to do great things.

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