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Content warning: deicide, vomiting, parental death, dismemberment, murder, chemical warfare
A god is dead, another one has been transposed into the body of a raven, and a sealed-away goddess is on the loose. Talis has lost her ship and part of her crew, but still has several jobs to complete in order to literally stay afloat and keep their lives. The stakes keep escalating, and in this volume, we get a hefty dose of interstellar court intrigue on top of the normal dangers of space piracy.
Magic rings, alchemy, aliens, chanteys, and found family, there is so much goodness from both science fiction and fantasy to be found within the continued misfortunes and advantage of Captain Talis and her crew.
The danger simply escalates and there are so many intricacies introduced right off the bat. We have an empress coming into power far too young, Hankirk making a really poor attempt to fix things, and Talis trying to keep those she cares for safe. I really like the specific ways Theodore tests the range of personalities and elegant escalation of cause and effect that kept the book rolling at an incredible clip. There’s a great mix of new alien and magical nonsense plus some brilliant banter, plus cause and effect.
Of the characters, I found myself growing so attached to Talis, especially when she pulls off some incredible pieces of decision making and also gets to punch Hankirk in the face not once but twice. It is everything. The love Talis feels for her crew is at once familial and platonic, especially when it comes to balancing all their needs while keeping an eye on the stakes horizon. Dug really goes through it in this one, and I find myself the most nervous for him going into the last entry. All the characters have great challenges ahead of them, especially since they’re the only ones who can share the knowledge about the tattoos that can save lives from a deadly poison which separates soul from body. It’s harrowing in a way that takes the best from fantasy’s genre expectations and tropes.
Theodore once again shows readers that one doesn’t have to choose between fantasy and science fiction, but that the two genres can build upon each other to create something truly epic.