Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Review: The Paradox Trilogy by Rachel Bach

Series:  Paradox by Rachel Bach
  1. Fortune's Pawn
  2. Honor's Knight
  3. Heaven's Queen
Hey guys.  Ever have that one relationship that transcends your understanding of love?  The one that makes you realize that everyone you've met in the past was just a test run for this real thing?  That relationship that, once it ends, makes you realize you'll never find anything like it again - and are therefore slightly hollow for the rest of your life?

Yeah, me neither.

I have, however, read the Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach, and that's almost as good.

This is the series of books that made me realize that I could, in fact, be interested in Science Fiction.  Before this series, I had only read a couple of the classics (most notably Dune), and while I enjoyed them, I wasn't inspired to love the genre as a whole.  This is the series of books that changed it all.

Why?  I don't have any definitive answer, but I suspect I have a few reasons.  

1. Deviana Morris herself
I love reading books with strong female characters.  They don't have to be sword- or gun-wielding, but being more than a damsel-in-distress is pretty great.  And Devi is the type of woman who names her guns (and her super-powered space armor).  She goes for what she wants without any apology - without being a complete asshole about it.  She's not afraid to pick a fight if that's what's necessary, and she knows that what's right isn't always easy - but worth fighting for all the same.  She has a healthy approach to sex and relationships...even if those relationships can cause problems in the future.  While she appreciates a fine masculine physique, she doesn't become a puddle of googly eyes and insipidity the second her man-love walks into the room - and gets incredibly pissed if he screws her over. You know, like a real person.  I want to hug her, but I suspect that she might punch me if I tried.

2, Adventures in SPAAAAAACE

Oh, man.  There is so much going on here.  Alien races.  Mysterious deaths.  "Invisible" monsters.  A secret society.  Twisted "magic".  Saving the universe. "Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!"  (Okay, that last bit is a quote from The Princess Bride but you know what I mean.)  There are a few calm moments throughout the series, but for the most part this is a driving narrative that Deviana drives through to the end.  Each book expands on something introduced in the previous volume, giving the setting depth and dimension, making it feel like a real place.

3. Mystery/Quest

Fortune's Pawn starts out with our dauntless heroine taking a job that is deceptively dangerous.  While everyone knows that the ship - and whatever its mission is - leaves a trail of dead bodies behind it, it's not clear why.  By the time the real reason for the wake of corpses is revealed, the stakes have been raised so high it's hard not to inhale the next chapter...and the next...and the next, right up until the series is over and you're left feeling spent and satiated.

This isn't to say that the series doesn't have problems:  Devi gets into and out of scrapes faster than any twelve normal people and rarely has anything to show for it other than a few bruises.  Also, the entire ending of the series gets wrapped up a little to neatly for my taste - including a cameo by a Super Important Person that borders on deus ex machina.  It's a bit more of a fairy tale ending rather than a super space epic war-for-all-life type of ending, but I suspect that most people don't mind a happy ending.

To sum up:
Read this series.  Read it right now.

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