A few months ago, I read and enjoyed ‘Space Carrier Avalon’ by this author, and at the time I last reviewed it, I said that I couldn’t wait to read the sequel. Which I did the day it was released, finishing it in a matter of hours. I suppose I could leave this review at that point, as I suspect that sentence alone makes it clear how much I enjoyed it, but that would make this a pretty sorry blog post, so I’ll carry on in a little more detail.
I think any series author will say that one of the hardest books in a series to write is the second book. In the first book, you’ve got the fun of creating a new cast of characters, a new setting, and you can completely twist every element in order to fit the plot. In the next book, it gets a lot more difficult. Everything published in the first book is now a fixed reference point, and you’ve got to bend the plot to fit the characters. In a long-running series, this is less of a problem, as by then the past canon and the characters are providing plots of their own, but in the second and third books, you haven’t quite got that yet.
Take it that I know how hard it is to write that second book. Worse - if the first book was a success, you’ve now got extra pressure on you for the next one. You want to keep it running, you want to satisfy the fans of the first one, and to come up with a story that fits your world without copying what you did the first time, or resorting to formula. This can be very difficult (and in part, is the reason I hate doing two-book plots, and attempt to avoid it where I can.)
This writer manages it brilliantly. Space Carrier Avalon was a fast-moving space adventure story, with plenty of twists and turns and some stunning action sequences, and Stellar Fox continues in the same vein, but manages to still surprise. Further, the events of the last book have some real relevance to this book - and that might seem obvious, but all too often, it didn’t. If you win a tremendous victory against desperate odds, then that achievement is going to be recognized. It isn’t going to be business as usual. In this book, that’s used as one of the basic elements of the storyline - no spoilers, that’s right in the blurb. What do you do with a hero, especially one you desperately need?
The setting is consistent and makes sense in its own context, which is vital. Enough of the characters come back to provide good continuity, but not all of them do - and that satisfies another of my personal bugbears, as far too often a crew will stay together forever with no real reason to do so. In the real world, people get promoted and transferred. A USN version of Riker would have been forced out of the Navy long before he took his command - twenty years at the same rank? Crazy. Rant over.
What this second book had to do was to consolidate the excellent basis of the first, and this it does extremely well. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book, and the first in the series, to any fans of military science-fiction, and I’m already looking forward to the next book to come! It is available for purchase at this link, and there is also a paperback version as well; I read the Kindle version, and found the formatting excellent. Go get it!