There are space operas out there, by prolific and world-famous authors, that can captivate you within a chapter, and within 2 more can whisk you away to a world on the other side of the unknown universe and hold you there with stories so real you can't stop yourself from seeing them in your mind's eye. Then there are authors whose efforts to do this are just as powerful, and successful, but without the many years of experience and training. Steve Wheeler is definitely one of the latter.
One of New Zealand's own "Renaissance Men", Steve has a colourful and eclectic past which allows him to bring a medley of skills and experiences, plus a broad knowledge-base, to the fore and incorporate some really amazing details and plot elements into the tales. The third in the "A Fury of Aces" series, this is a far more polished book than the first in the series, and seeing how far the story has come, and knowing it still has a way to go does not in any way diminish the level of enjoyment I had reading this book. Despite having had the privilege of being able to read one of the early drafts, I still found myself utterly drawn into this tale as though it were still fresh and new to me.
The neat plot twists and 'new characters' introduced near the end of this one leave the story wide open to further exploration, and when some of the plans in play come to fruition, the AFoA universe will be greatly expanded in some wonderful ways. Reading this book will be an essential part of any good SciFi reader's mandate, and especially for any Kiwi SciFi buffs who, like me, love to support our home-grown talent.
The characters are well defined, and all the back-story has been covered in the previous books, leaving this title free to be the 'action-packed, full-detail powerhouse' in the series so far. You have so many levels of intrigue, betrayal, secrets, revelations, moments of humanity at its very best, and its very worst... all packed into 397 pages of WOW, on toast, with AWESOME sauce liberally applied. (And just a light sprinkle of cheese to keep the up humour quotient.) ;)
Overall, this book is a stunning tale in the AFoA universe, and I am keen to see more! Your local library *should* have the previous books on the shelves if you haven't read them yet. If not, you should prompt them to get copies in! (You'll be doing yourself, and all the other SciFi buffs in your area, a HUGE favour if you do!)