My rating: 4.7 out of 5
English author Ian Whates has been around for a while now as a publisher, editor and author and I've been meaning to give one of his offerings a crack for some time, especially since he has been responsible for publishing stories from a few of my firm favourite sci-fi writers like Peter F. Hamilton & Eric Brown. Based on this, I naturally assumed that maybe Whates has the same good taste as me (IMHO) and finally sought out some of his own work. What caught my eye first was Pelquin's Comet, a shortish novel and the first in a (so far) two-part series called The Dark Angels. It turns out that it's a bloody good story, spinning my wheels up pretty good and arousing my imagination wonderfully because it's brimming with many solid sci-fi tropes and elements.
Right from the start, Whates gets you thinking, and you just know that you're in for some twists and turns. That's exactly what you get, a medium-to-fast paced story with fun and interesting characters and a plot that keeps you thinking right to the very last page - just my sort of thing. It's a fun ride, travelling faster-than-light with the crew of the small trading ship Pelquin's Comet under the command of the rather full-of-himself Captain Pelquin. The ship is crewed by a stereotypical bunch of rogues who come together to form an efficient crew, their intention to make as much money as possible from their various ventures cavorting around the galaxy. In this story, we're taken on a quest to acquire a cache of ancient technology left behind by the Elders – an advanced civilisation which seemed to have abandoned the galaxy centuries ago. The Elders, no doubt (and hopefully), will play a much larger role in the greater story arc, as will many of the key characters.
Pelquin requires a considerable loan from a bank to facilitate the recovery mission, which he is able to secure, but not without Drake who is one of the bank's agents (along with his unique and more-than-meets-the-eye alien companion), tagging along for the ride. Also added to the crew of the Comet as a stand-in engineer is Leesa, a woman who does not even know who she really is herself. What becomes clear early on, is that these two, as well a few others who pop up along the way, are a whole lot more than who they initially appear to be. We're given glimpses into their somewhat nefarious pasts which I assume will become much clearer as the series moves forward. The book comes to a satisfactory conclusion but it probably askes more questions than it answers and requires you to seek out the next book in the series The Ion Raider for more. The action is good, not too graphic yet gritty enough for a story such as this and pretty much perfect for a general audience. My only genuine critical observation would be that I found myself now and then wanting to see a little bit more of the various locations that are visited in the story. But the world-building is still more than adequate, the author no doubt saving the word count for the guts of the story.
The combination of fun and intriguing plot, effective characterization and an easy flowing style makes this a very entertaining read. It's a boisterous space romp between the stars and I'd recommend it to anybody who enjoys solid grass-roots sci-fi to be immersed in and chill out with. That's my purpose for reading books like this much of the time and why I enjoyed it so much.
4/5 for concept
5/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.7 out of 5
Buy the ebook HERE (Amazon)
Buy the paper book HERE (Book Depository)