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Thumbnail sketch: Opening book of a sci-fi space opera trilogy, with well-drawn characters and action scenes; a plot that steers clear of cliches; and set in an interesting ‘universe’ with potential for any number of plot directions. If you liked the TV show Farscape, you’ll likely like this (as I did). 4 Stars
My Take On Allies and Enemies: Fallen
One of my all-time favorite TV shows — I have the entire series on DVD & have re-watched from beginning to end several times — is Farscape. It was fun and rather inventive, I thought, in how it told an over-arching story. Things like cloning Crichton so when the group split up he could be with both parties (and thus creating a truly unique love triangle with Officer Aeryn Sun).
This book, Allies and Enemies: Fallen by Amy J. Murphy, has a distinctly Farscape feel to it. Some of the elements are very similar to the TV show, but I’m not suggesting this is intentional on the author’s part. Much is also very different. What isn’t different, though, was my enjoyment — especially when the author surprised me by taking the story in unexpected directions.
Part One of the book serves as an extended prologue. It takes place in the immediate aftermath of a failed military operation to quell a rebellion on a planet at the fringe of a repressive and socially stratified empire. Commander Sela Tyron, who led the operation, is a “breeder” — a military caste serving the whims of the upper class “cresters.” Movement between the upper and middle (commoner) classes is possible — Sela’s commanding officer Captain Jon Veradin and his sister are examples — but not for breeders.
Sela and Veradin don’t realize something bigger is happening than simply a failed military operation, but they begin to slowly piece things together with the help of Erelah, Jon’s sister. To say more than that would be to spoil the fun for new readers. The first of a trilogy, Allies and Enemies; Fallen doesn’t end on a cliffhanger (some folks get so upset when that happens) but for me there is no question about getting the other books to find out how the story plays out. The characters are well-drawn and interesting and the action scenes suitably exciting.
One final note: outside of a short introduction to Part Two, most background information on the larger picture of the Regime comes in dribs and drabs through character interaction or internal dialogue. This approach means information is provided with little or no immediate context, and it can be a bit confusing trying to piece together how it fits into the larger scheme. Still, I prefer this method much more than pausing the action to reveal expository info.
In sum, Allies and Enemies: Fallen is a great read, perfect for the beach or curling up on a rainy day. But don’t be surprised if, like me, you end up buying the next entry in the series as soon as you’re done.