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While not perfect, Dark Ship Thieves is a refreshing fun and original sci-fi with a charming female protagonist and great reader.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
You have to love a heroine named Athena Hera Sinistra. By the end of the first chapter, we've learned that our 19-year-old protagonist is the terror of everyone she's ever crossed paths with, capable of beating up professional mercenaries singlehandedly, and has a rack that makes men stop to stare in the middle of a crisis. A little Mary Sue-ish? Well, some of her preternatural abilities are explained later in the book, but yes, we've got some serious Heinleinian wish fulfillment going on here.
"Heinleinian" is not necessarily a bad thing. Darkship Thieves reads a lot like an homage to Heinlein's classic space operas, with hyper-competent, rather ruthless but ultimately moral protagonists sharing pithy words of wisdom and vaguely libertarian sentiments while kicking bad guys in the crotch.
Athena Hera Sinistra is the daughter of a Patrician, one of the "Goodmen" who rule Earth as an oligarchy. Spoiled, tempestuous, brilliant, beautiful, and dangerous, and with some series Daddy Issues, she finds herself seemingly being kidnapped aboard her own father's space yacht by his mercenary goons. She escapes, doing plenty of damage in the process, and runs into the "Energy Tree" that someone centuries ago created to float beyond Earth orbit and grow "power pods" which are harvested for Earth's energy needs.
Okay, the science is a little dodgy.
Athena gets picked up by one of the legendary "Darkship Thieves," who steal power pods and flee back to their secret base in the outer solar system. Carried off by the superhuman genetically-enhanced cat-man, Athena begins what is of course an inevitable kiss-kiss-slap romance with our futuristic space highwayman. She learns about their advanced asteroid, "Eden," run along vaguely anarcho-libertarian principles, and begins to become integrated into their society. Then her boy gets captured while making another power pod run, and she has to go back to Earth for a confrontation with Daddy Dearest, in which we learn all kinds of deep dark secrets about Earth's real history and Daddy's sinister plans for his little girl, and an entire gang of space biker allies is introduced in the final act.
Darkship Thieves was a fun romp. The writing is just okay and the story was, as I said, largely rehashed Heinlein, with a stronger romantic element, but if you like classic SF, this is a fairly well-executed tribute.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
I had not heard of this author before but as a long term Robert A Heinlein fan the comparisons to him attracted me.
Not disappointed, a great audio book I would recommend to all who enjoy Robert Heinlein or John Ringo.
Would certainly buy more from this author if they become available.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
Fans of tedious Mary Sue love stories that don't pick up until 6 hours into the tale. This book doesn't even seem to pass the Bechdel Test. Hours and hours of talking about the main love interest who doesn't even really seem to DO very much. The sci-fi meta story doesn't even kick in until the end.
Has Darkship Thieves put you off other books in this genre?
No, I still like sci fi and fantasy, and even romance.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
The 'accent' for the love interest and his compatriots was not the best. Slow, stilted, faux-sleepy-Jamaican? We couldn't place it, and it annoyed us. It wasn't a terrible narration but I did feel sorry for the poor woman having to slog through this gigantic tale.
What character would you cut from Darkship Thieves?
The main character, unfortunately.
Any additional comments?
We picked this because I saw it on a Felicia Day reading list. Being a big fan of Vaginal Fantasy Book Club, I had high hopes. What can I say? It kept us awake during a long, tedious drive - but mainly because we were gobsmacked at the writing most of the time. Lots of repeated phrases and expressions - ("goons", "daddy dearest" etc...) and lots of the heroine thinking out every possible implication of absolutely everything that happens to her or is said.
I'm a big fan of cheese (I enjoy things like My Life as a White Trash Zombie and Mercedes Lackey) and my husband is a big fan of space operas - but this didn't really hit the spot for either of us. It definitely picked up in part 2 (6 hours in) when the sci fi plot kicked into gear - but the entire first half was mostly about the main character being intrigued by the love-interest guy (with 'calico hair' ...?) - and ultimately felt like quite a slog.