Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Recent Reading: The Sequoyah trilogy by Sabrina Chase

The three titles are —

The Long Way Home

Raven’s Children

Queen of Chaos

Okay, I said the first book, The Long Way Home, did not really fit as space opera because it was too slow paced. I hereby take that back. Only the beginning of the first book is slow. I’m not even 100% sure about that part, because I have not been in the mood to read new-to-me SFF much this year, so there might have been a hurdle to getting into this trilogy. If so, that wore off – as I think I indicated – about at the point that Moire left the original ship. I do think the story takes off at that point. After which it does not slow down very much or very often until the hard-fought but (naturally) triumphant conclusion.

Let me see. What to say about this trilogy. Okay . . .

1) It’s highly engaging once you get into it. Pacing is mostly fast, which the author achieves by snipping out almost all travel. Plenty of good guys to root for, plenty of bad guys to boo and hiss, lots of action. Friends, enemies, aliens. Family dynamics. The universe is tough in some ways, but the overall atmosphere is not gritty or grim; despite the occasional crime boss and so on, the story actually showcases a fairly optimistic view of human nature. If you like the term, you could call this noblebright space opera.

2) I like Moire a lot. She’s an interesting and engaging protagonist. Quick thinking, loyal, kind by nature. The aliens become important as the story progresses, and Moire’s basic kindness is crucial to get that subplot lined up with the broader plot. Also, I like the name “Moire.” That is not crucial for liking a book, but it doesn’t hurt.

3) Lots of neat secondary characters too, from Commander Ennis, the secondary protagonist, right down the line to minor characters like the engineering guy whose head is generally drifting gently through the clouds. There are a lot of secondary characters because this is a fairly sprawling story. Sabrina Chase handles them well, making nearly all of them seem like real people.

4)  The aliens are pretty alien. They don’t even breathe the same atmosphere, which is a nice touch, not to mention challenging for the author. Their psychology is not soooooo unfamiliar, so most readers are probably not going to have a difficult time believing in them. I thought they were reasonably plausible as well as suited to the overall plot. So, good job with the aliens and I’ll have to remember to add this trilogy to my “neat alien” list.

5) Wow, coincidences can be helpful. A couple in this story are at the “divine intervention” level. But in space opera, that works, imo. It’s even expected. Nice denouement. That’s important to me.

6) As I said earlier, the writing is solid, correct, smooth, and does not call attention to itself. There are a bunch of brief moments when some very minor character gets the pov, but these do not detract from the reading experience even for me, and I usually dislike that. This is because those scenes are handled well and because they’re so brief. Even the little tidbit from the alien’s pov is okay.

Overall conclusion: if you’re into space opera, definitely try this trilogy. If it seems slow to you at the beginning, keep going. (If it doesn’t, drop a comment here to say so; I’m curious about whether that reaction is just me.) I’ve seen one review that compared this trilogy to LMB’s Vorkosigan series. I don’t think that fits, for various reason, but I’m hard put to think of a better comparison. It reminds me a bit of the Illuminae Files trilogy by Kaufman and Kristoff, but despite the occasional mad coincidence, the Sequoyah trilogy is a lot more believable and, I would say, more sophisticated (which is not a criticism of the Illuminae Files, which I loved).

Now I’m going on to the sequel of The Last Mage Guardian, which is called Dragonhunter, after which I’ll undoubtedly go on to the rest of Sabrina Chase’s backlist.

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