Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


A novel by Jeffrey A. Carver
(2001, TOR Books)

Star Rigger, book 5

A rigger escapes from pirates, but has to return to them to clear his name, helped by an alien race, while they search for a missing cruise liner.


-- First reading (ebook)
June 1st to 27th, 2020


An excellent story about a man caught between a corrupt legal system and the pirates he’s hiding from, with some cool aliens and a few twists about who the bad guys are. I love the descriptions of the Flux, and here we spend lots of time with the visual images created by the riggers as they go search for the missing ship. 

Spoiler review:

In the few books I’ve read about the Flux and riggers, my best memories are of the images they can create to make the Flux navigable, turning their spacecraft into airplanes or boats, bubbles or other objects, keeping their minds sane. This book opens almost immediately in a strange region of the Flux as Legrodinger escapes from the pirates, navigating a perilous region and escaping through a shaft very few people could have done. It’s breathtaking, and is an excellent beginning to this book.

Legrodinger faces all sorts of perils, from the mock trial of his implication in the disappearance of the ship that was captured by the raiders, his expulsion from the rigger guild for it, his search for the truth by going to the library then McGinnis’ mansion, where he’s nearly killed, and finally to the alien Narseil, who send him back to the pirates to gather intelligence.

Planetside, his lawyer Harriet, taking his case because her grandson was lost on the same ship he met so long ago, uncovers corruption in the rigging guild and the spacing guild, that they are all working with the pirates. The reasons for this are not clear from her perspective, but it turns out to be much more complicated than simple corruption. The raiders have infiltrated Faber Eridani (and presumably other places) because they want to gain support for their planned mission into the heart of the galaxy, something that was denied them when they lost the war over a hundred years ago.

It's a case of augmented vs unaugmented humans, and while the augmented Kyber lost, they have now gained the upper hand, because the Centrist worlds that won the war have not done any colonizing, and many people believe it should have happened.

The key to Legrodinger’s obsession is the missing starship Impris, which he knows he saw in the Flux just before his ship was taken by the pirates years earlier. McGinnis knew about a cover-up, and so do the Narseil. So Legrodinger continues his search by going undercover with them. He joins forces with Deutch, another rigger who had been captured by the pirates, to infiltrate the Kyber base Ivan.

Legroeginger was captured by Denoble pirates, and his life there was miserable. However, Ivan is completely different. These pirates only use their pirating to gain supplies as they are half-embedded in the Flux, though they still use slaves. Still, it is a prosperous space station with markets and restaurants, businesses and exploration. Plus, they have created a fleet of starships ready to go deep into the Flux to gain access to the Well of Stars, their colonization route. The politics of the Kyber vs the Centrist worlds is well documented, and is very naturally given. The internal politics of Ivan are a little more ambiguous, but are still interesting.

Trace-Ace/Alfa is a sexy character with a sexy name, and not just in the way she and Legrodinger make love after his first night on Ivan. She’s a force for change on that outpost, and is a strong character who tries to do the right thing, even as she exercises terrible power to be able to do the right things. Yes, she seduces Legrodinger almost immediately, and I think part of that is because he doesn’t fear her. But part is to share her experience, as their love-making is accentuated through her implants, which she has grown up with, and Legrodinger’s, which were installed by the Narseil. I kept waiting for things to go sour, because Legrodinger was a terribly spy, and I would have been very disappointed if Tracy-Ace had been fooled by his attitude. She wasn’t, but she and Ivan himself want the pirates to change, to become more independent and stop the piracy, so they can move into the Well of Stars as a truly self-sufficient colony.

But Ivan wants guarantees that the deep Flux will be safe for the fleet, given the uncertainty of what happened to Impris. So he sends Deutch and Legrodinger and the Narseil to search for the lost starship in the deep Flux. This part of the story is once again different from the earlier parts, with a completely different pacing as they search for and find Impris, then try to understand what happened so they can bring her out again. Time is moving differently on different parts of the ship, making life very difficult and communication almost impossible. The people don’t trust that Legrodinger and Deutch are real instead of imagined. But as the ship starts fading in and out, they make a decision to go deeper into the Flux, based on the Narseil knowledge of what they believe to be there. The Narseil are wrong, but Legrodinger and Deutch are able to navigate through the troubling dreamscape to realspace.

Of course, they are found out by a pirate ship from Carlotta, who were behind Legrodeinger’s fake trial; they engage in battle, but are rescued by escort ships from Ivan.

The return to Faber Eridani isn’t easy, and the denouement of the book isn’t a real wrap-up. Legrodinger’s implants have shut down, only to be accessed by the Narseil. The people in charge of the rigger and spacing guilds don’t take kindly to Impris’ return, as the ship is essential to the Carlotta pirates, so they try to take action, but are disabled through internal politics and some Ivan ships, and the fact that Ivan has convinced Carlotta that Legrodinger’s implants have some essential information.

So not all loose ends are wrapped up, and they don’t need to be. It’s funny, as Deutch says, that Legrodinger has a woman at every port, even though he just escaped the pirates ten weeks earlier, between Maris (whom he rescued from the pirates) to Morgan (his lawyer’s daughter) to Tracy-Ace, with whom he has a real connection. The mystery of the Flux is awaiting analysis by the Narseil. The human-first group Centrist Strength still has power, but is most likely to merge with the Kyber Republic. But things are moving forward, and it looks like cooperation is in the best interests of all groups. At least Legrodinger gets to clear his name in the end! And, at least for now, he also gets Tracy-Ace.


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