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Set in a galaxy far, far away, Cassius Mass, supreme star pilot, has lost his faith in his side of the war. All his life he believed he was fighting for the right side, the Crius Archduchy. Alas, the Archduchy fell to the Commonwealth and people rejoiced (much to Cassius’s surprise). Now he spends his days drunk navigating a freight hauler, the Melampus, going by the name Marcus Grav. That is, until he’s swept up into intrigue and revolution.
I know I have said this before about a new-to-me Phipps series: This is my favorite of Phipps’s works! Well, I say it again. This gripping scifi story is a little darker than some of his other works and yet still has moments of humor and all of it has this space opera feel going for it. I was rooting for Cassius throughout the story since I felt he would do his best to get the least number of average people killed.
Then I started rooting for Ida Claire, a spy master and captain of the Melampus who may or may not be on Cassius’s side, because she was so damn interesting! I kept picturing her with a bit of knitting as she read over the latest spy logs, quietly drinking rum-spiked tea and casually checking off boxes on the log that would determine who lived and who died. I know. She never had any knitting in the book and yet I always picture her with knitting. Maybe the knitting needle tips are poison dipped.
Let’s talk about Cassius’s tangled family tree. So he’s technically a clone of his father, yet he was raised as a sibling with his father’s biological offspring…. so that makes them his, well, we’ll go with siblings for now. Someone learned from that and decided to make a clone of Cassius to raise an Archduchy rebellion against the Commonwealth. Now Ida wants to stop that uprising and hunt down this clone and whoever is controlling him. Obviously, things are going to get messy for Cassius who was raised to have strong familial ties.
I loved the bioroids! Originally crafted to serve as a slave work force, sometimes a bioroid breaks free and spends the rest of their days working on some rundown freight hauler. Take Isla Hernandez, a medical officer, who is glad for her freedom but still harbors plenty of anger. The bioroids plight put me in mind of the human-like AI robots of Bladerunner and Battlestar Galactica.
There’s also aliens! Yes! Humanity knows they exist but has very little to do with them, per the aliens’ choice. We’re not evolved enough to be of interest. Then there’s the nearly alien Chel, a race of once-humans that are so far removed from humanity in purpose, biology, and technology that they are considered alien by most. Clarice has had contact with them and it wasn’t pretty. She’s got her own scars to keep tucked away.
Cassius is in a relationship with Isla, who used to be in a relationship with William… so there’s some personal tension between the two men. There’s also the young Hiro who is everyone’s little brother and he does Cassius a good turn, earning his trust. It’s a ragtag crew that often put me in mind of Firefly.
My one little quibble is that I found Cassius a bit too trusting beyond reason. He has plenty of hints that a member of the Melampus is working for a different team but is then surprised when that betrayal comes to pass. Same thing when he meets up with his siblings once again. Since we’re experiencing the entire tale through Cassius’s eyes, if we see it, then Cassius sees it as well. So I felt it was just a touch clunky trying to portray these hints of forthcoming betrayal and yet still keep Cassius’s blinders on.
All around, I really enjoyed this tale. There’s plenty of skirmishes, spy networks, and individuals making plays for personal gain. Most of our would-be heroes have deep scars that affect their choices, which in turn, put them or others in great peril. I also loved the witty humor that kept popping up, providing breaks from the grimdark feel of the overall story. Plus, there were a few references to iconic movies such as The Godfather and Airplane. I’m so looking forward to Book 2!
I received a free copy of this book.
The Narration: Eric Burns was an excellent narrator for this story. I loved his voice for Ida, which could range from sweet grandmotherly to brutally honest. He also made a really good Cassius, holding onto that sense of honor throughout the story. He did a great job with the humor as well as the grim moments, expressing the right mix of emotions for any given scene.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Part epic space saga, part comedy of errors, Lucifer's Star surprised me with its world building and plot depth. Just when I'd think the end was near, another layer would unravel, and the plot would rocket in a new direction. The narrator did a great job with the different voices, but I'd have to say Ida was my favorite. She fairly screamed "cantankerous old lady"! A very enjoyable listen.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
C. T. Phipps and, Michael Suttkus have done a great job with this book it is well written and the great narration makes this book is an enjoyable listen.
Each character has their own goals, personality, and history adding to the richness of the story enhanced by the unique voice Eric Burns's narration give them. The story is well paced and the action scenes feel quick and intense. The setting has a lot of history and in is interesting seeing it in the past with the flashback and in the present. As the story goes on you find out more and more about why things are happening. I really want to find out what might be next for the characters I hope there is a sequel.
I think they dynamics between the characters are very well done and the flashbacks are handled well giving you enough information and not side tracking the whole story. The development of the main character as they learn more about their past and the truths about their home nation. The ragtag crew of the ship is just brilliant and reminds be very much of Firefly I love the old granny captain.
I very much enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone that like space adventures.
I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.
Any additional comments?
... or, "Okay, what the hell is going on?"
This is a great space romp, humerously written with a fun story of constantly changing parameters. The author has drawn an interesting universe, in which The Commonwealth has been expanding, absorbing all other planetary governments into itself. Only one had escaped defeat: a strange people known as the Chell.
Cassius Mass had fought valiantly against the Commonwealth but had been unable to save his home world. But he survived. Famous (or infamous) for his war deeds and fighter pilot skills, and with a price on his head, he changes identities and gets work as a navigator on a freight ship. When a lookalike version of himself starts appearing on news channels inviting people to join a resistance faction, Cassius finds his secret identity isn't quite as secret as he had thought ... And nearly everything else is somewhat different, too.
A really enjoyable book with great characters, good dialogue and a story which just keeps on shifting. There are humans, AIs, bioroids, clones, genetically enhanced people and aliens, spies everywhere, and even a two hundred plus year old grandmother, Captain of the freight ship, with her mechanical aid, Hunkajunk, probably the oldest robot still in use, now you really don't want to annoy her.
The.narration by Eric Burns is excellent, giving individual voice to the numerous characters and his reading of the text between dialogue is in an expressive, well paced enthusiasm very fitting to the action and pleasing to the ear. One or two tiny slips but, overall, an impressive performance.
I was very fortunate to receive my copy of Lucifer's Star as a gift from the rights holder, via Audiobook Boom. My thanks. I really enjoyed the numerous confusions as beliefs and expectations prove wrong and new directions are introduced. Lots of ingenious fight scenes and I loved the humour which bubbles up throughout. Some interesting ideas, too. If you are looking for the more usual battle between good and evil, this is not the book for you. But if intrigue and double dealing with a 'hero' as confused about his place in the greater scheme of things as the listener is sure to become, then don't delay - get this book now, read, enjoy and then, like me, hope that another adventure will soon follow.