A fast-paced space-opera that addresses some weighty issues, The Shadow Ship by John-Paul Cleary (@ConvergentSpace) is the second entry in a series started by the excellent Convergent Space (see my review). Although helpful, reading the first book is not required to enjoy The Shadow Ship.
Nyder Remi, a human, and his sentient machine companion Disparity have signed on to be cruise directors on the Terillian, a luxury spaceship built by the mega-wealthy Della to celebrate her early retirement from business. Packed with the rich and idle, the Terillian is on a “Damage Tour” to visit worlds and species negatively affected by the Second Wave that crashed through the galaxy decades earlier (as detailed in the first book).
But Nyder and Disparity’s jobs on the ship are only a cover story. They’re really searching for what happened to Nyder’s father. Chet Remi disappeared while searching for the mysterious Shadow Ship, thinking its discovery would lead to great wealth. By diverting the Terillian to places Chet was known to have visited, they’re retracing his steps. Helping them is the mysterious Nex Pelez, a member of the Phlegar race.
Introduced in the first book, Phlegars are a widespread but not well-respected species. Since the Second Wave they have united under the banner of Tihn Forlihn (introduced in the first book), stoking the fears of the Renaissance, an alliance of planets and species that at the same time has become more conservative and militaristic.
Nyder’s search plays out against the backdrop of the rising tensions between the Renaissance and Phlegars. War is imminent and both sides believe the Shadow Ship is the ultimate weapon that can ensure their victory. But what cost is too high to pay to win? To say much more would be to spoil the fun for future readers but I spent several very enjoyable hours tagging along on as all parties search for the Shadow Ship, and I look forward to reading more from Mr. Cleary.