Ossus Library Index
Science Fiction Index


A novel by Eric Thomson
(2014, Sanddiver Books)

Siobhan Dunmoore, book 1

The new captain of a jinxed frigate must overcome the incompetent and fear culture of it’s previous commander, while uncovering a plot and fighting against the savy commander of an alien invasion.


-- First reading (ebook)
September 7th to 22nd, 2020


I really liked the way the author built up the suspense of training a crew that at first seemed incompetent, but then was found to be held in fear, with a few bad apples who enjoyed the reign of terror brought on by the previous captain. Dunmoore takes on each problem in turn, showing her true military colors and her just over-the-edge persona, which nearly drives them all to destruction. I really liked the way she beat it all down with her patience, revealing the conspiracy through the clues presented by the various crew members. I had a problem with the author’s style at the beginning, wondering why he called his main character by her full name in almost every sentence, but that died down later, when he just called her Dunmoore. Flipping between points of view mid-paragraph was also jarring, but I got used to that, though never warmed to the concept. The concept of the human confederation and ships seemed modeled after Star Trek, which I found a bit unoriginal, and the aliens were just pseudo-human, with a bit of a Klingon bend to them. I would have liked to see something more alien. In all, though, a success, and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

Spoiler review:

The political plot of the pampered and smuggling former captain was in the background for the entire book, from having been a rival to Dunmoore in school to the secrets and threats she hung over all their heads for the duration of the voyage. I admire the way Dunmoore tried to keep cool about it, even knowing that everyone wasn’t telling her things. The other points of view helped in the suspense, as the problem was hinted at but never explicitly stated until Dunmoore pried open the cracks. Seeing the second-in-command having doubt about his ability really helped in this, as he had aspirations until he was ostracized by the former captain. I had a feeling that the big spy would be the petty officer, because she was so nice and chipper, compared with the rest of the crew.

The crack finally appears when the gunnery sergeant decides to trust Dunmoore, and she gets more and more information, until she ends up as a temporary prisoner of her security officer.

The alien society was hierarchal, and it was specified that they would tolerate no creative battle techniques. But otherwise, it was just like dealing with humans, as even humans could have the same kinds of rules. They went through dark alleys, bars, with secret police, and corrupt politicians and so on. There was nothing new or innovative in these aliens.

I had a lot of favorite parts, but the biggest one was the backstory that permeates most of the book, as Dunmoore uncovers the conspiracy. But the climax, where Dunmoore organizes the sneak attack on the convoy, was a lot of fun. The strategy was interesting and exciting, especially as the crew wonders about the risks she’s taking. But she has a strategic mind, and it all goes well, until she meets her nemesis in the asteroids. She manages to nearly destroy him, but lets him go, a worthy end to a worthy adversary, whom I expect to see again.


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