Seven Devils (Seven Devils, #1)

By L.R. Lam and Elizabeth May

Rating: 3 stars

The characters in this found-family space opera are great. You’ve got Eris, bred and trained from birth to rule, having killed the vast majority of her genetic siblings to become Heir to the Tholosian empire. And she walked away from it all to join the resistance. And Clo, an engineer from the vast slums outside the palace complex. Whose native dialect, for some reason, seems to be Scots. They’re on a mission together to gain intel on a mysterious new weapon that Eris’s replacement as Heir seems to be developing. They run into Nyx, Ariadne, and Rhea, who have combined their skills to escape their various own traps. They end up working together to stop the empire from destroying the last remaining couterweight to the Tholosians.

Eris and Clo on their own are great, but when you throw a soldier, teenage tech genius, and courtesan into the mix, you end up with something quite explosive, and seeing them start to tentatively trust each other is great.

Where the book falls down, IMO, is in the worldbuilding. The two empires at war here are said to inhabit different galaxies. Even if you accept that their FTL drive can span that distance (let’s not forget, as a wise man once said: space is big, really big!), I can’t believe that this empire, in less than a thousand years, has filled all inhabitable planets in their home galaxy. Once again, space is big, and yes, a lot of that is er, empty space, but even if 1% of the ~100 billion plus stars in a galaxy have planets and a further 1% have planets that are either inhabitable or capable of being terraformed (a technology we know the Tholosians have) that’s still millions of planets. I don’t buy resource shortage as a reason for war, and the idea of having one planet that provides water, or one that provides the food is just laughable on the scale of a galactic empire.

But I tried very hard to put those sorts of thoughts out of my mind. This is a grittier take on Star Wars, showing the real costs of a Rebellion against an almighty interstellar Empire and with a small group of heroes fighting incalculable odds with the power of Friendship. And I loved that aspect of it.

Book details

ISBN: 9781473225152
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2021

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