Under Fortunate Stars

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Pub Date 12 May 2022 | Archive Date 03 May 2022
Rebellion, Solaris

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A modern, progressive homage to classic space opera stories, with flawed heroes and time travel

Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion’s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five's legendary ship—and the Five's famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake...
A modern, progressive homage to classic space opera stories, with flawed heroes and time travel

Two Ships. One Chance To Save The Future.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the...

Advance Praise

"Fortunate readers, and a future star." -- Stephen Baxter

Debut of the Month -- Library Journal

"An engaging space saga with time-travel twists, and a compelling look at how past and future are created by not only by those who live it but those who record it." -- Library Journal (Starred Review)

"An engrossing interstellar escapade" - Booklist

"Hutchings lovingly fuses a sprawling cast of charmingly flawed characters and a plot with many moving parts into a smooth and satisfying whole." -- Publishers Weekly

“One of the best books I’ve read this year.” -- Gareth L. Powell

"This is an absolute must-read for anyone needing a little hope." -- K.B. Wagers, author of Hold Fast Through the Fire

"Ren Hutchings’ first novel is exciting, funny, truthful – and a thoughtful account of the necessity of trusting both ourselves and strangers to secure our future and live in peace." -- Una McCormack

"Fans of Becky Chambers and Valerie Valdes will love this." -- John Appel

"Questions of fate, predetermination and stepping into history are cleverly wrapped in an engrossing time travel tale." -- Paul Simpson, Sci-Fi Bulletin

"Rifts in time and space, humour and a cast of compelling characters. An electrifying mix of wild ideas, vivid far futures and good fun." -- Eeleen Lee

"An engrossing mystery gene-spliced with a thrilling sci-fi adventure, Under Fortunate Stars feels like a newly unearthed classic that’s miraculously stood the test of time. Driven by a cast of complex characters who deepen with every new layer of the mystery revealed, it builds to a thrilling, head-spinning climax. Reading it is like being sucked into a mysterious time rift, and you’ll love every lost moment." -- SJ Whitby, author of the Cute Mutants series

"Fortunate readers, and a future star." -- Stephen Baxter

Debut of the Month -- Library Journal

"An engaging space saga with time-travel twists, and a compelling look at how past and future are created...

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ISBN 9781786185921
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Featured Reviews

Space opera fans, rejoice: this book is SO GOOD.

Under Fortunate Stars is a fast-moving, compelling time-travel saga about what it actually means to live on in history, and what happens when the stories we've always told about ourselves come back in ways we don't expect. It follows a research ship as it slips out of time and into contact with members of the Fortunate Five: a band of legendary heroes who ended a war that threatened the universe—but who don't appear quite the way they did in the legends. For one thing, they haven't stopped the war yet. For another, they're not all sure they want to.

The characters in this book are stellar: I will go to my grave as the biggest Leesongronski cheerleader known to man, and Jereth is exactly the kind of smart-mouthed space rogue I love to yell at while I read. The dynamic between these two is literally Tulio and Miguel from The Road to El Dorado, except in space, and I cannot imagine a vibe I would enjoy more. I would follow them anywhere, and I'm so glad I get to follow them on this adventure, which is simultaneously exciting, heartrending, and an absolute mind-bend.

This is a fantastic debut by a new writer, and there are scenes in this book that I can't stop thinking about. (Ask me about that one scene with Jereth and the Felen. You'll know which one when you get there.) I can't wait to see what comes next from Ren!

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Under Fortunate Stars is a well-paced, pretty well-written, space opera featuring time travel. Author Ren Hutchings is a first time novelist and I think she has talent to carry her forward to a bright career. Her dialogue is good and she has tried to develop some of her characters beyond what I often see in space operas.

I found some of the characters to be more two-dimensional, perhaps due to a large cast, perhaps due to the unfolding mysteries in the story. I thought the outcome was telegraphed early on, frankly inevitably because of the time travel component (I am generally not a time travel fan). There are many standard tropes at work in this book but handled well. The fact I carried on to the book is a credit to the author for writing well, irrespective of my nits and distaste for a central plot device - time travel. The tone is generally positive and about redemption. I like that. Too much grim stuff out there. Call it 3.5-4 stars, rounding up to 4.

Thanks to Solaris for letting me try (and for publishing) a promising new author.

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Where to start? This book is like a beautiful, complex puzzle box. Discovering each piece and how it fits is a delight. When the last twist falls into place and the puzzle reveals itself as a smooth, intricate whole, it’s very satisfying, but at the same time you feel a tinge of regret because it’s finished and it was such a pleasure to put together.

A ship is stranded outside normal spacetime, and soon its crew realizes they are not alone: another ship is out there too. When they find out where—and when—the other vessel came from, they are plunged into a confrontation with the legends and traumas of their past. As they race to free their ship, they must also safeguard history itself, and if they fail, a vicious inter species war will destroy everything they love before it even begins.

This is a multi-POV masterpiece, and it’s hard for me to pick my favorite character: Uma, the history fangirl and extremely competent engineer who gets to meet her heroes, and finds out they are nothing like what she expected? Shaan, the quiet nobody haunted by a past that won’t stay in the past? Jereth, the inveterate gambler and charismatic survivor who did not sign up to save the galaxy? Leeg, the chainsmoking, gloomy mathematician who is a navigational genius but can’t navigate his intimate relationships? I love them all.

I adored this book from beginning to end. It has so many things that I look for in sci fi/space opera: nerds saving the universe, weird time hijinks, lots of positive queer rep, bi protagonists, fascinating aliens. There’s a theme that isn’t exactly “don’t meet your heroes” but more like “your heroes are human.” It delves into the way the reality of the past is wilder and more interesting than written history.

If you enjoy space opera with heart, Star Trek, time travel stories, and living history, this book is a love letter to all of them. Like Star Trek, it’s ultimately a positive vision of the future. Its core is fueled by the hope that humans will rise to the challenges that face us and work together against all odds to make a better, more peaceful universe, even when faced with things we can’t fully understand.

I had the privilege of reading this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I loved this book it is rather like reading a thoroughly brilliant series of Star Trek the kind you can’t help but binge watch in a weekend .
I gobbled the book up over a weekend in a similar way thoroughly enjoying the brilliant multi universe storyline with its clever twists and turns .
It took me a while to understand what was happening in the story which is told in flash backs and forwards through the various characters time lines .It didn’t matter because once I had twigged the direction of the story it was like working out in advance a great Who-dun-it ! I was very pleased with myself and in awe of any author who can think up such a great story
I love science fiction which manages as this book does to make interplanetary travel multiple universes and alien life to feel completely credible .As lovers of science fiction tractor beams and space shop shielding are concepts we’ve read and watched enough times to feel we understand the technology .The worlds which this novel covers are beautifully described and eminently real
I can easily see this novel spawning films or a long running tv series following the original 5 characters through other adventures
I would thoroughly recommend this book to sci fi lovers ,even if you are new to the genre I’d suggest you give it a go you will be pleasantly surprised by the subtlety and beauty you will find with both human and alien species

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A wonderful story unlike any other. This book had everything a space opera should! Funny and witty, this book will have you unable to put it down!

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Under Fortunate Stars is a unique and engaging thriller of a space adventure with a touch of mystery thrown in. Beautifully written and excellently detailed with in-depth studies of how humans can resolve issues in the direst of circumstances.
The book employs multiple narrators and is very much a character-driven novel. If you like that type of narrative, you will enjoy Under Fortunate Stars because there are some fascinating characters here.
Some readers will obviously draw parallels to Star Trek and other sci-fi books, mainly because of the whole time-slip scenario. But the author has created an excellent science fiction mystery-thriller, which stands out from the run of the mill. Superb characterization and epic atmospheric scenarios make Under Fortunate Stars a bit special.
The disparate individuals from the Jonah are a mismatched bunch in more ways than one. So, it is no surprise that they get most of the best lines, early on, at least. There is humour and wit, even in the worst of situations.
Jereth Keevens, immediately had me thinking of Hans Solo. Instantly likeable, brave, totally loyal yet, just as likely to get you into trouble because of his snarky attitude. Jereth and Eldric Leesongronski, actually made a decent team. Their rapport was one of the highlights, and you could imagine spin-offs of their adventures.
They say drastic changes in situations can emotionally derail a person. Well, it happens to engineer Uma, who unexpectedly gets to meet her heroes. Unfortunately, they are not what she believes them to be. That's what happens when you meet your heroes because they never quite live up to your expectations.
Another word for fortunate is lucky. The crews of the Jonah and Gallion seem to have so much luck you would have to conclude that they are playing with loaded dice. Time and time again, things seem inevitable to go in the crew's favour. Or, as we used to say, "more jam than Hartley's". I know some will say that it is just too much good fortune, but it always worked for the A-Team, “I love it when a plan comes together”.
There does not seem to be a problem dialogue wise, considering the difference in time between the crews, and it helps with the rapport between characters. It did niggle a bit with all the toadying with the alien ambassador, but that was part and parcel of diplomatic relations.
There is a lot of tense and dramatic action throughout the narrative, and it certainly has that edge of the seat fervour about the book. It certainly captures the imagination and if it is a homage to classic space operas then it works a treat.
Considering Under Fortunate Stars is the first novel by Ren Hutchings, I thought it was a phenomenal and remarkable work of science fiction. I hope Under Fortunate Stars gets picked up by one of the larger movie franchises because it has that big screen vibe about it.
I recommend this book highly. Under Fortunate Stars is a worthy addition to the Science-Fiction genre, and I personally cannot wait to see what Ren Hutchings has next up her sleeve.
Thank you so much, NetGalley, Ren Hutchings and Rebellion, Solaris, for the incredible ARC.

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A solid space opera that will satisfy many fans of the genre. It also includes some good mystery elements. I stayed engaged and enjoyed this one.

Thanks very much for the free ARC for review!!

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It's truly said that no man is a hero to his family and perhaps this should also include his friend and most of all himself. This is the story of a spaceship's crew of five who, while stranded outside normal spacetime meet a nother stranded vessel, but one from their future where, to their surprise and disbelief they are venerated as heroes who saved the galaxy from an inter species war. How their stories intertwine with those of the future crew and how they come to unwillingly accept their roles as saviours makes up this satisfying and complex story. Add in their individual back stories and their efforts to escape the space time trap and you have a thoroughly wonderful book.

My thanks to the publishers and Net Galley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Under Fortunate Stars

[Blurb goes here]

This is a fast paced and well written adventure. What would happen if, suddenly, the saviors of the human race appeared in a time bubble, with a ship of the future, when they're still a band of brigands? Are they really the saviors or just a group of criminals? This is, sort of, the kind of adventure thats waiting for you inside the pages of this sci-fi thriller.

A great read. That's all I can say.

Thank you for the free copy!

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<i>Under Fortunate Stars</i> follows the crews of two spaceships who converge in ‘the Rift,’ which seems to be a strange sort of energetic disturbance; the two crews come from two different time periods 152 years apart, with the ‘earlier’ crew famous in the ‘latter’ crew’s time period, but their meeting seems misaligned with historical record in many respects. The crews must work together to figure out how to escape the Rift and set things right.
I appreciated Hutchings’ effective use of non-linear storytelling here, with flashbacks illuminating crew members’ pasts. I also like multiple-POV novels and feel like this was also mostly effective, though some of the characters’ narrations felt a bit similar to each other. The slow pace of the plot worked for me, as tension and mystery slowly built as the crews learned more about each other and the situation they were in, with the action really picking up in the last third of the novel or so. The novel is queer inclusive in ways I appreciate – with queer characters represented without their identities being plot points – and the novel overall has a real sense of humour, not taking itself too seriously. The world-building is also very well done – this feels like a fully fleshed out universe complete with political, class, and environmental dynamics that make sense; I hope that Hutchings will revisit this universe in a future book as I’d happily return to it as a reader. I recommend <i>Under Fortunate Stars</i> to space opera fans, particularly for those who aren’t looking for anything too heavy.
<i>Content warnings:</i> physical assault, injury, war, gun violence, death, child death

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After reading way too many SF books by cis white dudes, I’m willing to give almost any space opera written by a woman a chance, but the time-travel paradox bent to this one had me especially intrigued.

Hutchings builds two varied and vibrant worlds – future and even more future – as well as multiple locations within those worlds and the space within the rift, a great backdrop for a story with some really relatable characters and a plot that relied on physics but wasn’t full of technobabble. The story was focused on the who and the why more than the how, but I never felt like it was glossing over the how in a dismissive way. If anything, Hutchings seems to know what she’s talking about, but also knows how much detail to give without getting overly technical.

Most of the main characters are fully realized and complicated, though one struck me as uneven and less nuanced than I wanted them to be. I’m sure that was partly intentional, but some of their transitions felt too abrupt to me. Most of the secondary characters were quite nuanced as well, which made the ones that weren’t stand out more than they might otherwise have done. My only other issue was that that plot felt a bit predictable, but then Hutchings managed to surprise me at the end. I love it when I think I know exactly what’s going on, then end up shouting “OH! Wait, WHAT?!” Definitely makes it worthwhile!

All in all, this is a really good read with great worldbuilding and a satisfyingly complex plot and characters. I look forward to seeing what Hutchings puts out next.

Thanks to NetGalley and Rebellion/Solaris for allowing me access to an ARC so I could review it!

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Date finished: 21/12/2021
Date published/released: 10th May 2022


Thank you to Netgalley for approving this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

I was really excited when I found this one on Netgalley. A sci-fi with a hint of mystery. And it didn't let me down at all. I was absolutely hooked on this one from the start.

I loved all the characters (expect for one). Loved how they interacted with each other.
I really enjoyed the flashbacks, which goes into more detail about each character and how they ended up where they are.

I did find the mystery element a tad predicable. However, I still really enjoyed the journey the book took me on.

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I read this book in one sitting—and I knew this was gonna be the case after reading the first couple of chapters. Why? Because the tension in this book is off the charts. It’s in every single chapter, on every single page, even across several POVs. Hutchings is a master of microtension as well as macrotension, and you feel it from the second you lay eyes on their words. The stakes are palpable and high as all hell, but presented to you through a narrow, character-oriented scope. Add in that Hutchings is a master of subtext and narrative omission, and you have the perfect locked-room mystery on hand.

But it’s not a locked-room mystery in the traditional sense. A lot of the elements are there, however, to give the illusion of it. It reminds me a lot of Harrow the Ninth, in fact, in that there’s that same feeling of being trapped in a (space) place with the risk of death imminent until a mystery is figured out. In this case, the mystery isn’t a traditional mystery. It's more a matter of figuring out how to survive, but the characters are shrouded in so much in mystery themselves that it feels less like they’re trying to survive, and more like they’re trying to hide from each other and themselves. Hutchings unveils the flawed and complicated history of the characters throughout the entire book, adding a locked-room feeling not just to the external plot, but also to the internal character arcs. It feels a little like a puzzle being pieced together backwards, if such a thing was physically possible.

At this point, I should probably include that a lot of this mystery (both external and internal) derives from Hutchings's expert play with time as a concept. The motley cast of the book are on a mission to restore the past in order to secure the future—but not in the traditional sense here, either. Hutching plays with the time travel trope that “altering history will alter the future”—but they put a spin on it. The spin is that no one travels back in time. Rather, people from different timelines end up accidentally in a timeless existence relative to each other. In a sort of limbo-space (read: an anomalous energy field) that’s neither the present, the past, nor the future, but timeless. Connective tissue between the past, present, and future, we could call it. And here people from different timelines in the same universe collide. The people from the future want to mold the people from the past into fitting history, whereas the people from the past reject the history that the people from the future are trying to squeeze them into. It’s a truly fascinating play of character motivations and stakes—especially once you realize that righting the timelines to their natural states is necessary to prevent annihilation of humanity and stop a past/present/future war between humanity and an alien species.

Loyalty, loss, and legend make up the thematic core of this book. It’s about the choices you didn’t make, and those you did. It’s about living up to being a legend, learning to live with loss, and understanding the sacrifices that loyalty demands and willingly making them. It also raises questions about chance, luck, and destiny. Most interestingly, the book highlights the power of communication as a theme, slotting the alien species into the position of sympathizer rather than the humans by making the alien species regretful over the lives lost once they realize humans are sentient via—you guessed it—communication. Cross-species communication, of course, but communication nonetheless.

Then there’s the twist at the end of the book. It blew my mind. While Hutchings doesn’t use a 100% unreliable narrator (like, we’re not talking Gatsby and Shutter Island level, you know?), the feeling is there towards the end. This is mostly because pivotal information is omitted from the reader until the very end where it serves as a wild twist of a perfect answer to everything. And because the omission is driven by a character’s denial and willful ignorance, it feels less like an unreliable narrator than if the character had deliberately lied to the reader.

As for comps, some of the character dynamics reminded me a lot of the Star Trek reboots—which I absolutely love—and the ending of the book paradoxically reminded me a lot of the beginning of the movie Gravity (2013). Last, but not least, we have stellar LGBTQIA and diversity rep.

If you like mysteries in space and time, with a heavy dose of existentialist dread and deeply flawed, but admirable character dynamics, then this book is for you.

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UNDER FORTUNATE STARS is a book that is at once about the past catching up to you, but also about forming your own future—figuratively and literally. It weaves many backstories together to develop excellent, rich characters with complex pasts, full of traumas, past relationships, and regrets.

In this way, it’s a very personal novel. While we don’t get to know all characters on this personal level, it really does work with the ones we do. It’s also a very “big” book, about people literally saving human civilization. Full of doubts, human heroes, time travel, and hope.

Very well plotted (there’s a lot of coincidences, but they felt logical in the context of the story… Might break the story for some other people, however) with a bit of a puzzle throughout the entire thing.

Great debut!

Disclaimer: I received an ARC for this book in exchange of an honest review.

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Time travel sagas are my thing and this was a fast-pace, well-written novel. I think space opera fans will enjoy this truly. Think of the twists and turns in this book as a spaceship ride. I love how the genres (mystery, action, etc) all came together seamlessly. Such a fun, unforgettable read. Looking forward to what Ren Hutchings has in store!

Full review to come!

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I requested a digital copy in order to sample the prose on my phone (since I don't have a eReader) before requesting a physical copy for review. I will update Netgalley once I read & review a physical copy.

My review will be based on the physical ARC I read.

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I really would rate this 4.5 stars, as I enjoyed the novel immensely. It has quite a few point-of-view characters, with the story being told both in the present, and via flashbacks that touch upon and amplify characters' actions/motivations. The ending was, perhaps, a little bit of a letdown (for me), just because I wanted the story to be presented in a certain way, and the author opted to end it differently (nothing wrong with that, and if there's a sequel in the works, which I'm hoping for, perhaps I'll get my way via flashbacks in that book...or, perhaps not, which is fine, lol. I just want more stories from this author!). Oh, one last thing. After finishing the book, it occurred to me that it had a vibe that was similar to another book I love, A Talent for War by Jack McDevitt, so if anyone has read that and enjoyed it, I think you'll like Under Fortunate Stars quiet a lot.

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"Whatever happens, I am proud of you. All of you. We existed. We made a difference"

Under Fortunate Stars tells the story of two crews from different points in time that somehow end up meeting through a weird spacetime anomaly, and who realize that history might not be exactly as the records say. As both crews work together to escape the anomaly, which they call the Rift, and to ensure that history does not go astray, we learn more about their individual members' pasts and secrets.

This book has it all: gorgeous writing, lovely characters, terrifying mysteries, and just the tiniest dash of romance. I was completely hooked after just a few chapters, trying to figure out how the different characters fit into the future's apparently warped view of history, as well as what made them into the people they had become. The pieces of the story slowly fell into place, and despite having guessed some of the twists I had to take a moment to process the full picture in the end, because of how masterfully the story had been crafted. It was also incredibly easy to fall in love with most of the characters (please give Uma a break), even if they sometimes acted in non-ideal ways, and their interactions were super fun to read.

The only problem I had were the few times more science-y terms were used, which felt a bit confusing, and that I kind of wished there was more of a found family element to the story (which is on me for not managing my expectations and researching the book more), but the overall reading experience was great.

All in all, this was an absolutely stellar (pun absolutely intended) read. Aside from some darker moments, the story felt full of hope, and if you're a space opera or adventure fan I'm sure you will love it as much as I did.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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This is a great book. I really enjoyed it and how it moved along at a great pace. The characters are well developed and the story is packed with action and adventure. The authors do a great job delivering a story with a solid plot and interesting subplots. Can't wait for future novels.

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Thanks for the ARC!

Under Fortunate Stars is a survival story about two groups from different points in history coming together to escape a time anomaly before it kills them all. If you like time travel, stories set in deep space, flawed heroes, the history books getting it wrong, and a full cast of characters forging friendships and more, I think you'll really like this book.

I was so relieved to find a story about time travel that I really enjoyed. It's a trope I don't typically read just because of how often it's used, but this story handles it in a way that feels fresh. In fact, I wouldn't necessarily call this a time travel story - that trope is what sets the stage of the novel, but really this book is about survival where friendships and relationships are formed between a mysterious group of legendary people (The Fortunate Five) and a group of scientists who are trying to figure out how the two groups were brought together in the first place. A good portion of the novel takes place in backstory chapters leading up to The Fortunate Five's disappearance inside The Rift (the rift in time), so we get to learn more about these flawed heroes and grow attached to them. What I especially like about this book is that it has a large cast of compelling people, so each reader can have their favorite character since so many of the characters are equally interesting (I really liked Leesongronski and Uma). Uma and Shaan, the primary POV characters, had great arcs, one of whom gets to meet their favorite hero from history and learns just how flawed that person really is, and the other who is haunted by a tragic secret she's never been able to get over.

I loved the voice, the story was well paced, and I will definitely be reading future books by Ren.

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A highly entertaining space adventure with a great hook and a fun plot! Kereth, Shaan and Leeg were well-crafted characters and overall it was a pleasure to read.

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A massive thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this review copy!

What a story, and so complex! It’s a great debut.

This is a time-travelling, fast-moving and compelling book. I loved the characters so much!

I loved Jereth the most. I wanted to yell and laugh all at the same time.

I really enjoyed it, and feel like I’ve found yet another great author. I’m sure I will like every book he writes (when you know, you know). I liked his writing style too.

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The crew of the Gallion was not expecting to get sent back in time, but they find something else equally unexpected in the form of a ship crewed by the most famous people in existence; the ones who stopped the war. The only problem is that their engines are not working and they have no connection to the network. Backup power will not last forever. Also, the ‘Fortunate Five’ are not AT ALL what they expected!

I absolutely love the writing style of this book. It is really easy to follow and kept me engaged the entire time. The story is a common one for sci-fi tropes, but it has a nice twist that makes it unique and keeps it fresh and interesting.

The characters are a lot of fun. I enjoy their personalities and the way they playoff each other and live in the world so well. It has excellent world building without being too wordy or detailed. You get the information that you need to understand the story in the form of one of the crew being a history enthusiast with a very narrow interest. It flows quite well.

I did figure out the ending about half way through the book, but the ending had some fun twists and unexpected turns. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes space operas or sci-fi!

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