Valiant Dust, Richard Baker – Book Review

Morning mortals! What’s this? My first ever foray into military science fiction (knowingly at least). Valiant Dust appealed to me largely because of how striking that cover is, but it’s also fun to branch out into other genres/sub-genres. You never know what might surprise you. On that note…

Goodreads Summary:

Sikander Singh North has always had it easy until he joined the crew of the Aquilan Commonwealth starship CSS Hector. As the ship’s new gunnery officer and only Kashmiri, he must constantly prove himself better than his Aquilan crewmates, even if he has to use his fists. When the Hector is called to help with a planetary uprising, he’ll have to earn his unit’s respect, find who’s arming the rebels, and deal with the headstrong daughter of the colonial ruler all while dodging bullets.

Sikander’s military career is off to an explosive start but only if he and CSS Hector can survive his first mission.

Find Valiant Dust on Goodreads

So yes, this being my first attempt at reviewing a military science fiction novel I cannot claim to have any kind of expertise. If you’re looking for a review of how accurate Baker’s descriptions of the potential of torpedo’s in the physics of space are…you might need to find someone else (does anyone do those kind of reviews? I want to meet them.)

What I can say is, though I skim read a lot of the descriptions of that sort, I enjoyed the rest of the book! The science is hung on an interesting plot in a fascinating interplanetary setting. There are a good number of women who do all kinds of jobs from captains to princesses and all of them are wonderfully written. The main character Sikander is fun to read without getting too perfect. It’s a well written book.

There’s a surprising amount of religion brought into this, which I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting. But it seemed to be handled quite well and I don’t know how many people tackle putting modern religions in a science fiction setting so perhaps that’s a unique selling point?

I was so pleasantly surprised by this book. Against all my expectations I found myself caring about these characters, I even found myself caring about the descriptions of the flaws of various kinds of torpedoes. That’s a testament to how gripping Baker’s writing is, because that isn’t like me at all. He draws you into this setting with likeable, approachable characters that the reader gets to know quite quickly. It’s a war story, but it’s a also a story of revolution, and of finding oneself amongst new people. There are so many different stories being told as one that I think anyone could find some element to relate to.

Put simply, if Baker could get this hardcore fantasy lover to enjoy a book which charts the main character’s military career – then he must be pretty damn good.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

By the way, I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

What say you? How often do you branch out into new genres? Let me know in the comments below!


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