Fleet of Knives – Review

Author – Gareth L. Powell
Pages – 405

A thrilling and emotive second Embers of War novel that adds even more personality to the series, and cements your attachment to the brilliant characters.

As with most books that aren’t the first in a series, I won’t make a huge in-depth review; those of you who haven’t read book 1 are best off checking out my review for that, whilst readers coming from that book won’t need so much info to introduce them to the series.

What you will want to know:

  • Is it as good as Embers?
  • What’s new and what isn’t?
  • How much did I enjoy it?

Yes, it’s just as good as Embers of War! And whilst with it being the second book it can’t replicate the charm of being first introduced to this great series, it continued to show me why I loved the first book so much, keeping things fresh but sticking to the core values that made me love it in the first place.

Trouble Dog just comes into her own even more – she’s hilarious at times, in a book that does up the emotional stakes with plenty of heart churning moments. The use of banter between characters and especially Trouble Dog’s character does help to stop everything feeling too gloomy. She has a chapter with just two words in it, that made me laugh out loud – brilliantly done.

Of course, the exploration and space opera elements are dialled up too as well as conflict coming from unexpected places. Did you really think the marble armada, the Fleet of Knives with their million ships, would keep the story going at a pace it they fought alongside our heroes? (Not a spoiler – it’s on the cover!)

What I loved in this book was how it was unmistakeably in the same world as Embers of War, with more sci-fi elements added on top to keep things fresh; there are thought provoking questions posed and there are parts that will remind you of a couple of popular space horrors.

The continued emergence of dark themes and even darker enemies keeps you on the edge of your seat, so you spend equal time full of adrenaline paired with discovering this world and the complex, amazing characters that Gareth Powell has conjured.

It’s incredible for a book that is so rich on thought provoking ideas, storytelling finesse and adrenaline fuelled action, for its main strength to be its characters and the way they behave and interact with one another. The Nod chapters continue to be exquisite, and Sal is starting to become a real favourite of mine in sci-fi. Ona’s story is one of the most interesting, too – it’s intriguing bearing witness to her inner turmoil and ultimately whether she is strong enough to do the things she thinks are right. This all comes down to perceptions again and I like that the characters we view as the bad guys actually see themselves as the good guys – the age of the evil moustache twirling villain is over.

AI is a theme too that is looked at in more detail and I found the character of Lucy (Lucy’s Ghost) especially interesting and a way to further explore these sci-fi ideas Gareth introduces in more depth here.

I loved this book and have moved straight onto the final book of the trilogy, Light of Impossible Stars (at the time of writing I’m 40% in and the final instalment is awesome, too).

I actually bought these three on ebook (and part listened to Fleet of Knives on audiobook as well as reading it – there are multiple narrators, who do a great job!) but am buying the hard copies as these have to have pride of place on my bookshelf. Seeing as I have space on my shelf for less than 30 books, I’m more than happy for over 10% of it to be taken up with this incredible series. Highly recommended! Stay tuned for my review of book three over the next month or two.

The former warship Trouble Dog and her crew of misfits is called upon by the House of Reclamation to investigate a distress call from the human starship the Lucy’s Ghost. Her crew abandon their crippled ship and seek refuge aboard an abandoned, slower-than-light generation ship launched ten thousand years before by an alien race. However, the enormous ship contains deadly secrets of its own.

Recovered war criminal Ona Sudak faces a firing squad for her actions in the Archipelago War. But, at the last moment, she is smuggled out of her high-security prison. The Marble Armada has called for her to accompany its ships as observer and liaison as it spreads itself across the human Generality, enforcing the peace at all costs. The alien ships will not tolerate resistance, and all dissenters are met with overwhelming and implacable force. Then her vessel intercepts messages from the House of Reclamation and decides the Trouble Dog has a capacity for violence which cannot be allowed to endure.

As the Trouble Dog and her crew fight to save the crew of the Lucy’s Ghost, the ship finds herself caught between chaotic alien monsters on one side and, on the other, destruction at the hands of the Marble Armada.


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