Fleet of Knives (Embers of War, #2)

By Gareth L. Powell

Rating: 3 stars

The sentient starship Trouble Dog and her mismatched crew are en route to a rescue call from the salvage vessel Lucy’s Ghost when all hell breaks loose, as the Marble Armada, which Trouble Dog had had a hand in finding and giving a purpose to prevent war, suddenly starts going berserk and attacking all human ships with weapons, in order to protect them from themselves. And then the Armada, now calling itself the Fleet of Knives, intercept a transmission from Trouble Dog that puts the former warship directly in the Fleet’s crosshairs.

I wasn’t sure where the story would go after the end of the first book, and I must confess that’s not a direction I was expecting. We have a new PoV character this time round, in the form of “Lucky” Johnny Schultz, the captain of the Lucy’s Ghost, and he and his crew basically get to play out Alien as they race across this ancient artefact, one step ahead of the horrors following them. He’s struggling to live up to his reputation, and only realises too late that he’s bitten off far more than he can chew in his latest salvage attempt.

The poet and war criminal Ona Sudak also returns in this book, and plays a key role in setting events in motion. I’m not sure if she’s just in way over her head and having to cling on to what she thinks she believes for dear life or if she really believes in this course of action. She’s a complex character, but not one that I have nearly as much sympathy for as I did in the previous book.

I like Trouble Dog and her crew, and even Adalwolf from the last book gets some redemption. The book moves along at a fair pace, but it does suffer from middle-book syndrome, as it’s setting up a lot but can’t resolve an awful lot. If I’d read this as soon as it came out, I think I’d have been frustrated at the end. As it is, I shrugged and immediately ordered the final book in the series.

Book details

ISBN: 9781785655210
Year of publication: 2019

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