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“Skae High Command, this is Kolandi Raj Ansus, please respond, Skae High Command.”
Static echoed in the Raj’s ears as she gripped the com link in a white-knuckled desperation. Her royal robes and long brown hair showed the neglect of long hours in the war room. Ansus rose only recently to the position of High Raj. She fervently hoped it was not her destiny to be the last Raj.
Her nose became insensitive to the stench of bodies during her confinement in the dim bunker long ago. The deep space images on the screen before her revealed the devastation of their fleet in their encounter with the Gorvin. Two hundred top-of-the-line war cruisers had been completely destroyed, another three hundred fighters were out of commission. She watched as the overwhelming forces of the Gorvin plowed through their defenses like an energy blade through a cloud, and were now aimed straight at Kodut, their home world. On the displays, a second line of vessels, the laser launch ships, took up their attack formation. A cloud began to grow ahead of the ships as they deployed their weapons.
Combining literary flair with the psychological insight that is often missing in the Science Fiction genre, Recusant proves a noteworthy follow-up to Cronin’s Hegira as he takes his Brin Archives series to the next level. With its intriguing characters and an acerbic easy reading style that belies its depth, it entertains from the start, quickly building momentum and doesn’t let go of the reader’s attention until the very end. As with Hegira, Cronin’s world building is subtly complex and whilst you don’t need to read Hegira to understand the plot of Recusant, it does build a greater appreciation of the work Cronin has done in bringing his alien world, culture and technologies to life and the intricacies of his narrative are certainly are compelling. There are no wasted words with just the right measure of exposition and it’s packed full of original ideas which along with a nicely balanced plot is more than enough to demand a read. But as with Hegira it is Cronin’s characters and their interactions that make for a genuinely memorable novel with his ability to make them both compassionate and flawed whilst feeling relentlessly real.
A superb sequel to Hegira with Cronin at the top of his game, Recusant sees an intelligent and compelling Science Fiction series go from strength to strength. It is highly recommended.
Jim Cronin is a retired middle school science teacher, currently working part-time as an educator/performer at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, raised in Arlington, Virginia and Denver, Colorado, he became an avid science nerd at the height of the space race of the 1960’s. After thirty-five years teaching science in the middle school classroom, he decided to retire and explore new worlds of opportunities, including volunteering, bicycling, and writing. It is the writing experimentation which resulted in this novel.