Captive Embers is in a word, ‘Captivating’. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)
This is Mansur’s debut novel, and he has created a fascinating backdrop of political intrigue in which to tell his story. With multiple Colonies of species at different levels of development all controlled by these Omnipotent ‘Wardens’ and their set of rules, we learn about this Galaxy through multiple main characters, a Spy, Rafe, the 2nd in Charge of a Battleship Sean, a Nurse who is also aboard the same ship Sarah, the head of a Criminal Organisation, Lilith, as well as multiple minor characters.
Each of these characters brings a unique aspect to the story, tells a particular part of the story, allowing the pieces of the puzzle to slot together very nicely, providing this riveting, fast paced military thriller about a Galaxy that although seems like it is all nicely controlled and running smoothly under the control of these ‘Wardens’, is actually on the brink of all out war. Rafe is trying to find shipments and distributors of weapons and deployment systems that will destroy colonies. Sean and Sarah are on the same ship, the Battleship Tsunami, a very apt name as they are walking into a storm, looking for weapons being freighted about by a criminal organisation. A Criminal Organisation run by our other main Character Lilith.
The great thing is that there is an opportunity to just give you all the story as you have all the major players. But Mansur doesn’t. He uses each of the characters to give you just enough to build the story, allowing it to unfold naturally, allowing you to try and make a bunch of seriously wrong guesses as there are some awesome twists and turns as the story plays out.
I don’t want to give too much away, but basically the galaxy has a collection of colonies of different races, all mandated by rules that are governed by the Wardens, these robots. Step out of line, they come down on you hard. There are rules for everything, including weapons. However, a crime syndicate has managed to get hold of colony killing weapons, and no one knows why. The crew of the Tsunami has to find out why, and stop them before something horrendous happens. I’m seriously busting at the seams wanting to write more, but that would ruin all the fun!! You will have to read it – and it is so worth it.
The characters are very real as well, Sean and Sarah have a fairly instant connection when they meet, and due to their time together, this grows, but this isn’t just because the book needs some romance angle, the relationship is incredibly real and natural. Mansur has gone to a lot of trouble to make the dialogue between his characters seem real, not forced, or over-the-top as is the case in a lot of newer Mil Sci-Fi books these days.
This is an outstanding Debut Novel, and regardless if you like thrillers, action, Mil Sci-Fi, there is something for everyone. My only disappointment with this book is that I got an early copy of it, and now I have to wait for part 2!! I should note though, even though I got an ARC, I had already pre-ordered both the book and the audio-book as it is well worth it, and I will be listening to it again when I get the chance. This is a Must Read.