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A Greater Duty (Galaxy Ascendant Book 1) Kindle Edition
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1 part Weber's Starfire series. 1 part Wing Commander. But it brings its own voice to the table.
Sometimes I mention earlier Weber books because they aren't tied down by narrative info dumps. This book has a good balance that wont throw the reader off like later Weber tomes. Again, I like Weber a whole lot so when I find new indies that bring that earlier flair to the table, me likey much.
Narration is smooth. Esp for a first time book. Can't wait to see where this thing goes.
One of the two central species, the Felinari, has a civilization that looks like a space mutant version of the oldest Abrahamic faith --- even in their language I spotted some Hebrew chopped up in a blender.
While the book is self-contained, there is room for a sequel. I'm definitely looking forward to more from this new indie writer.
BONUS 1: Is Darkclaw the New Darth Vader?
One of the key tenets of escapist adventure is how good (bad?) is your bad guy? Usually the better (worse) s/he is, the better (not worse, better, for sure). Some good stories fail because the bad guy was so-so, not good (bad) enough. Makes sense? At first Merkin’s baddie, Darkclaw, looks like a Vader wannabe (vannabe if you like alliteration). The similarity is unmistakable – Darkclaw even reports to an Emperor like dude who seemed to wander (vander to continue this bad joke) off a Star Wars set. But Darkclaw is better (worse) than Darth. Darth is simply an angry dude in need of good dose of Anger Management and maybe few doses of Valium. Dark gets angry too, but his anger is so much more interesting. Dark is a nuanced baddie, someone that we want to get to understand and get to know.
I know that I’m getting into a book when I identify with the main character. Now that’s really hard here because Merkin’s protagonist is a sentient cat-like creature of the female persuasion. That is a stretch even for me, but Nayasar (not naysayer) is a Grand Admiral and a charming one at that even for a cat. She definitely is not catty.
Second BONUS: Why art makes a difference & Merkin’s Universe
I have one gripe with this otherwise amazing book – cover art. I won’t tell you what I think is wrong with it. Instead, I’ll share a little story. I’m a Sci-Fi buff, but I don’t actively chase the new book, movies, video games, and what-nots. I just sample what comes my way. A few years ago, I checked out an article in the Drudgereport web site about Spielberg directing a movie based on a recent novel, Ready Player One I was drawn to that book, not by the Drudgereport article, not by Spielberg, but by some fan art. Drudge linked to a cool rendition of Art3mis, one main character in the book. Indeed I read the book, but our story doesn’t stop there – one link led to another and to another until I found the grand Sci-Fi story teller, John Scalzi. Scalzi created his Old-Man’s War universe, which is quite interesting but it doesn’t hold a candle to Merkin’s Galactic Alliance. I’m chomping at the bit (trite, I know) to find out what happens next with Nayasar and company.
Richly drawn, with interesting characters, the story builds well and has a terror inducing villain. Defining emotions, religion, loyalty and more are themes visited throughout space battles and intimate moments.
As a first novel, pacing is a little uneven and while tactically driving battles are excellent some of the character narration could use work (some of that comes from experience I think). Still a worthwhile read, and an easy pickup!