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Shadow Captain Two sisters ran away from home to join the crew of a spaceship They took on pirates faced down monsters and survived massacres and now they're in charge Captaining a fearsome ship of their own adventures are theirs for the taking and there's hoards to loot and treasures to find in the darkest reaches of space But the rules are also relaxed out on the fringes as they're about to discover This time last year I was reviewing Alastair’s Elysium Fire the seuel to The Prefect aka Aurora Rising In 2019 I’m now looking at another seuel  this time to Revenger published in 2016 Shadow Captain continues the story of Revenger a mere few months after the end of the first book This was where spoiler alert the two young sisters Adrana and Arafura aka Fura Ness managed to kill a notorious space pirate Bosa Sennen and take over her ship the Revenger Both of these did not escape the plot of Revenger unscathed – the book finished with many of the Ness’s crewmates dead and their spaceship destroyed Fura ended up having to eat raw lightvine to survive which has left her ‘full of glowy stuff’ and can mean changes in behaviour and eventually a painful death  Adrana this time the teller of our tale has also suffered by being tortured by Bosa and is now suffering some sort of PTSDMuch of Shadow Captain being set a few weeks after the end of Revenger is about what to do next having “won the battle but not the war” so to speak The solution for the crew of the Revenger is to spend time in the outer reaches of the Confederation where they or perhaps obviously their ship will be less recognised As well as this such covert action allows the crew time to get used to one another work out how to run the ship and adjust to the new situation They decide to do this by modifying the Revenger to make it look less like Bosa’s old shipFirst they have to collect fuel from an old bauble which are ancient technological artifacts which leads to a rather exciting if creepy adventure The crew then decide to head to Wheel Strizzardy an old and rather decrepit space station where they can get supplies and repairrebuild their ship On the way to Strizzardy the crew get the impression that they are being followed a situation confirmed when one of them is injured by stray gunfire when working outside on the hull It seems that two spaceships are after a bounty placed on Bosa’s old ship The Revenger returns fire and damages one of the stalking ships by accident before moving on to Wheel StrizzardyOn their arrival at Strizzardy the group find that the station is as decrepit as they had expected and run gangster style by local crime boss Mister Glimmery The crew of the Revenger now in disguise as the crew of the Grey Lady find themselves being watched by Glimmery’s henchmen With one of the suad in the local hospital  the team scramble to get sorted but find that they become part of Glimmery’s power games between the gangster and the local aliens They are also told that one of the ships that was chasing them is about to arrive at the space stationWhen I reviewed Revenger a few readers made the comment that the book had many of the elements of a Young Adult novel – young protagonists following a bildungsroman esue journey etc etc I disagreed finding the book as accessible but perhaps subtle and perhaps violent than the usual YA text Here that idea of being for younger readers is shaken off convincingly This is darker bleaker and typically Reynolds’ workWhilst it’s not straying too far from the original brief outlines of the characters the world building is great and the internal monologue of Adrana is convincing As the book progresses it appears that neither sister is totally free of Bosa Sennen with Fura making some uestionable decisions in the way that Bosa would have done and Adrana having moments of intense hatred and rage which she feels she has to control Both of these actions lead to a build up of tension as the reader is never sure until towards the end whether this will affect the rest of the crew or not The title is a subtle reflection on this – it shows Fura Adrana as captains of a spaceship in hiding but also suggests that the sisters as co captains are a shadow of the Revenger’s previous owner captains who have to prove themselves to others that they are worthy of the role but whose position is still influenced by the presence of BosaAs with the first book there are some shocks and revelations at the end though at least one that was guessable and the ending is a bit of a cliff hanger where loyalties and friendships are tested Don’t expect everything to be tied up But overall the pace as it goes starts slow but builds nicely to the point where the book becomes un putdownable Whilst there are clichés it is after all space pirates there were times when I genuinely wasn’t sure where this was going to go I will now wait impatiently for the third novelIn summary Shadow Captain is a middle book that does what it means to do – builds on the set up of the first and then extends it into something darker and complex before making you want to read the next This could run and run as a series something I would gladly like to see happen If you're into stuff like this you can read the full reviewSolid YA SF Shadow Captain by Alastair ReynoldsI find it strange that the debate whether YA is any good is so often cast in eitheror terms I read all kinds of things newspapers YA folk tales of all kinds romance crime SF fantasy nature writing history biography serious contemporary fiction classics books for beginner readers Oh the emotional pull of DoggerMy enjoyment of YA etc does not make me incapable of reading appreciating and criticising serious literature I also uestion what seems to be a general idea that reading say Alastair Reynolds is fine and dandy and nothing wrong with that sort of escapism while reading YA or romance is silly and OMG the death of intelligence and all that is good and beautiful in the world Take that into films an action film is no adult than “Divergent” or “The Hunger Games” except maybe there's fuck in both sense of the word There's a gender division inherent in this that could do with exploration 45 starsI enjoyed this second installment even than Revenger I know Revenger received mixed reviews from Reynolds' fans who I guess didn't get what they expected but really I think he wrote a great story and Shadow Captain is a fine continuation The writing continues to reflect Reynolds' densely competent style with both tension and character development delivered in eual measure Fura continues a slide into the personality transformation that began as she relentlessly pursued and rescued her abducted sister Adrana Adrana continues to recover herself and tries to understand the extent of any lasting effect Bosa's conditioning must have had on herThe bond between the sisters remains but now that they have taken Revenger the uestion that looms over them is who are they going to become? This time around the story is told from Adrana's perspective rather than Fura's and it shows how similar they remain despite the different yet eually traumatic events that have brought them back togetherI found Shadow Captain to be a dark exciting and creative tale which ends on an expectant note of unguessable events still to come The second Revenger book continues on with a pretty traditional Space Opera tale Where the first began with revenge on the mind the second focuses much on financial survival salvage and after a particularly awesome Reynolds homage to Reynolds sentient skull candy partnership with suits becoming a shambling hoard of zombies a desperate need to find SOMEPLACE to hide from shadow ships and recuperate That's where the real story picks up Intrigue lies torture cat and mouse antics and even picking up a rather interesting new crew memberAs a regular Space Opera it's fun It's than competent It's full of bickering sisters and an attempt to turn a mutiny into something much respectable So why did I knock off a star? Because I'm a huge fan of Reynold's adult fare and this isn't at THAT particular level The high science and deeply intricate worldbuilding and ideas I usually get are watered down here That's not to say it's poor for the sub genre or even the full SF genre It's right there with the most solid entries But Reynolds is usually a full head above the restI judge this a lesser example of his works Not bad at all and actually rather fun but not fantastic

  • Hardcover
  • 488 pages
  • Shadow Captain
  • Alastair Reynolds
  • English
  • 04 December 2016
  • 9780575090637

About the Author: Alastair Reynolds

I'm Al now a Goodreads author I used to be a space scientist and now I'm a writer although for a time the two careers ran in parallel I started off publishing short stories in the British SF magazine Interzone in the early 90s then eventually branched into novels I write about a novel a year and try to write a few short stories as well Some of my books and stories are set in a consistent f

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