Poisoned Pawn, The Fall of the Altaira Empire, Book III by Jaleta Clegg
Dace and Jasyn have everything they ever wanted – their own trading ship and freedom.
Their only issue, regulations require a second pilot and the only one available on Viya Station is a little too perfect for Dace’s comfort. But his credentials check out and everything seems fine.
Until Dace disappears and Jasyn learns the truth.
Rollicking, romping, and similarly playful action verbs have been used to describe Poisoned Pawn. I don’t necessarily disagree either, because in terms of the latest science fiction I have consumed, this was definitely very enjoyable.
I’m one of those people that like Star Wars and Mass Effect. I have never watched Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and whatever else is blasphemous to admit. I have a hard time with science fiction when there are too many made-up words or too science heavy. I’m sure those things would be easier once you get the basics of science fiction down, but I’m just not there. I was worried in starting Poisoned Pawn that I was in for a space science fiction where I’m constantly wondering what is going on and who is where.
I was wrong. Instead, it is the kind of science fiction I can definitely support. There are different worlds, sectors, with different trade and government entities. The universe (or should I be using a word that denotes an even bigger space?) is easy to understand and doesn’t require too much from the reader. I didn’t need to have Google open whilst reading it to look up what something meant.
The story itself was enjoyable. I have not read the other books in this series but I didn’t enjoy it any less for that. The pre-established relationships between the characters were about the only thing that would have been especially helpful to have read the other books, as that would have helped me connect better with them and perhaps root for them a bit more. I could definitely see this book as being a great (last?) installment in a space drama.
I will say though, that the author cannot be blamed for rushing the ending. Compared to books where it ends in a sudden cliffhanger, or you’re left with lots of questions, it was a nice change. Some of it felt unnecessary, but again, understanding that it is the third book, I’m sure I would’ve appreciated every moment more of the story if I had been invested in the series. I would definitely be interested in learning more about that or similar universes in the future. [Side note: It took me adding the picture to this post to understand the cover choice. I didn’t understand it at all while I was reading it but now that I’ve finished it, I get it. Pretty cool now.]
My rating: 4/5