Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach (Paradox #1)
Genre: Science Fiction, Military Sci-Fi
Publisher: Orbit on March 7, 2013
Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. View Spoiler »And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.
That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle. « Hide Spoiler
This post is part of Sci-Fi Month 2016, a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow. Follow along on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or with the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth.
Devi Morris is a proud solider, a brutal fighter, a reveller in carnal pleasures, and she’s unapologetically crass. She is, on the whole, my kind of woman – and she’s the perfect protagonist for a high-octane military sci-fi adventure like FORTUNE’S PAWN.
Devi’s life goal is to become a Devastator, the elite special force that protect and carry out duties for the King of Paradox. Not incidentally, they’re also equipped with the strongest body armour on the market, and Devi is a total armour wonk. Being invited to join the Devastators is no small thing, so Devi agrees to work as security for the infamous transporter The Glorious Fool to increase her chances and cut down on the required service time. The Fool has a nasty reputation for getting its people killed, but Devi’s not worried: she’s the best of the best. All she has to do is make it through one year on board The Fool and she’s got a real shot at the Devastators…if she can stay alive that long.
Given the size of The Fool, it’s no surprise that Devi gets to know her crew mates pretty quickly. The characters are where FORTUNE’S PAWN really shines, and Devi’s crew mates are no exception. Perfectly juxtaposed with Devi’s rough and tumble personality is Nova, a gentle, New Age-y engineer – and Devi’s roommate. Nova is sweet and welcoming towards Devi, which is certainly a change from some of the other people on board. Basil, the ship’s pilot and interstellar navigator (and an alien who basically looks like a huge chicken), isn’t exactly pleased by the presence of a Paradoxian on board, and the ship’s mercurial captain isn’t exactly what I’d call “warm.” There’s clearly more to The Fool than meets the eye, and Captain Caldswell is hell-bent on keeping those secrets.
Devi’s relationships with her crew mates, particularly the sexy, mysterious cook Rupert, keep her from coming across as all brawn and no brains. She’s always played it pretty fast and loose with her romantic interests in the past, so when Devi starts really falling for Rupert, she’s freaked. It was really refreshing to read about a protagonist who owns their sexuality and their physical power, but who’s also open to deeper connections. Well done, Rachel Bach!
The twists, turns, and crazy reveals throughout FORTUNE’S PAWN kept me flying through the book’s pages and kept my adrenaline pumping for the entire story, even when some of them were fairly predictable. There’s not much else I can say about the plot without giving too much away, but I’ll leave you with this: The Fool does a hell of a lot more than just transport goods across the galaxy.
And the action scenes, lord! Devi Morris can kick some serious hostile alien ass. Using her suit of armour, her beloved Lady Grey, Devi is almost evenly matched with creatures double her size and weight. The armour makes her stronger, faster, and can even act independently of Devi to prevent injury if she’s in serious danger. In a word: awesome. The fight scenes were really well written, which is good because there are certainly a lot of them! If you’re in the mood for a rollicking adventure, then FORTUNE’S PAWN is the perfect choice.
I’m so glad that I started off Sci-Fi November with FORTUNE’S PAWN, because I think it’s the ideal sci-fi read for me: light on science, medium on aliens, and heavy on fun!