Monday, October 03, 2016

Darkship Thieves - Sarah A. Hoyt

There's a lot of back-story in DARKSHIP THIEVES, the first novel in Sarah A. Hoyt's Darkship series. In the future, genetically engineered and bio-inhanced individuals known as Mules take over the earth, a development that results in a bloody upheaval in which all the Mules are wiped out or forced to flee from the planet. Earth winds up being ruled by a consortium of billionaire aristocrats known as the Good Men. There are rumors that the surviving Mules have set up a colony somewhere out in the Solar System, but nobody knows for sure if that's true. But there are powertrees growing in space, some sort of bio-construct created by Mule scientists. They grow pods that are harvested to produce power back on Earth. Got all that? Because it's in place before the plot in this novel even gets started.

The narrator/protagonist of DARKSHIP THIEVES is Athena Hera Sinistra, the wild, spoiled daughter of one of the Good Men who rule Earth. An apparent mutiny aboard the space cruiser owned by her father forces her to flee into the powertrees in a lifepod. I say apparent because this is one of those books where almost nothing is what it seems to be at first and the plot twists and revelations come at an almost constant clip all the way through. Athena is rescued by a darkship from that semi-legendary Mule colony and taken back there. The darkships, hard to detect as you might imagine from the name, are piloted by genetically enchanced former humans who steal the power pods for the colony. Athena winds up in all sorts of intrigue and danger, as well as a romance with her rescuer, who's been genetically modified to have cat-like vision and reflexes.

It's all even more complicated than I've made it sound, but Hoyt makes it work, largely because her two main characters are so likable. Athena isn't exactly an unreliable narrator, but she is on the eccentric side. The plot moves along briskly, the world-building is excellent, and this novel comes to a satisfactory conclusion while still leaving the impression that there's a lot more tale to be told. There are three more books in the series, and I suspect I'll be reading them all. Recommended.

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