September 26th, 2012


Book Review: The Phoenix in Flight, by Sherwood Smith & Dave Trowbridge

Old-school made-for-TV space opera varnished with a new coat of cheeseglitter.

The Phoenix in Flight

Book View Cafe, originally published 1993, revised/republished 2011, approximately 169,000 words.

Smith and Trowbridge describe the flavor of their five-book space opera Exordium as a cross between Star Wars and Dangerous Liaisons with a touch of the Three Stooges. With its fast-moving blend of humor and horror, of high-tech skiffy and the deep places of the human heart, The Phoenix in Flight launches the reader into a complex, multi-layered universe as Brandon nyr-Arkad, dissolute youngest son of the ruler of the Thousand Suns, abandons the life of Service planned for him and flees into the lawless Rift.

Only slowly does he discover that the world he rejected now lies in smoking ruins as the ritual vengeance of Jerrode Eusabian against Brandon’s father, twenty years in preparation, culminates in an explosion of interstellar violence. With both his brothers dead and his father the Panarch imprisoned, Brandon becomes the Panarchy’s last hope.

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Verdict: The Phoenix in Flight is the first book in a five-book series, so either you'll love it as the tasty sci-fi treat it is and dive into the next four books, or you'll roll your eyes because Farscape and Babylon 5 were good TV, but literary SF should have a bit more to offer. I will admit I enjoyed it more than the somewhat deeper (and more ponderous) works of Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton, but it is what it is: spaceships 'n blasters space opera.

My complete list of book reviews.