Alex arranged with his publishers, Dancing Lemur Press, to send me a review copy of CassaStar, and it’s been a long time coming but I was finally able to get settled and read the book. 🙂 Here’s the blurb:
To pilot the fleet’s finest ship…
Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard.
Much to Byron’s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron’s tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential.
As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit?
There’s a that Alex gets right in this book – the characterization is top-notch, giving Byron and Bassa a welcome sense of emotional reality, and there is a definite sense of growth in both characters – they aren’t static and unchanging and their personal journey’s will probably resonate with many readers.
Action-wise, Alex manages to make the combat scenes both thrilling and exciting – the pilots in the Cassan Navy are able to use a unique move in combat that Alex uses to great effect and, combined with the directionless arena of space, brings a definite sense of position and movement to these scenes, not to mention the sense of danger, frustration, sadness and elation that the pilots feel. It’ll be interesting to see how Alex ups the action in the next novel, and what direction that action will take.
Looking at the plot of the novel, though, I’ll have to say that that there’s a definite setting-the-stage feel to the book – I don’t know how many books Alex has planned to tell Byron’s tale, but I’m sure that as the series continues we’ll see much more and experience much more; hopefully the canvas broadens nicely. 🙂 The world-building of the novel was, in some places, a bit sparse – there’s not a definite sense of just what the world of Cassa represents in the greater scheme of things – it’s place in the galaxy relative to Earth (in terms of both history and distance), for example. In fact, I can’t remember Earth being mentioned, and if it was, I do apologize. The Cassans are threatened by an alien species and there’s also no real explanation for the ensuing war – what the motives of the aliens are, for example. I do hope this is touched on in the next novel – it’ll be great to find out just what pushed the Vindicarn into such militancy.
All in all, CassaStar is an entertaining, well-paced and exciting adventure, with a nice emotional focus and some great battles – the cool definitely does outweigh the bland, and Alex shows a definite talent for storytelling. If you’re looking for an entertaining, focused read that won’t break your head and will keep you flipping the pages, CassaStar is for you. I know for sure I’m looking forward to the next book, CassaFire. 🙂
7 / 10
To order your copies of CassaStar click here for Amazon UK, here for Amazon US, and here for South Africa (available from Exclusive Books). If you’ve read CassaStar and would like info about CassaFire, check out this link – the book will be available on the 28th of February, so be sure to pre-order your copy. 🙂