Saturday, April 23, 2022

Review: The Exiled Fleet by J.S. Dewes

by J.S. Dewes
Release Date: August 17, 2021
2021 Tor Books
Kindle & Softcover Editions; 432 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250236364
Audiobook: B08H8W8NZ7
Genre: Fiction / Science-Fiction
Source: Review copy from publisher
4.25 / 5 Stars
The Sentinels narrowly escaped the collapsing edge of the Divide.

They have mustered a few other surviving Sentinels, but with no engines they have no way to leave the edge of the universe before they starve.

Adequin Rake has gathered a team to find the materials they'll need to get everyone out.

To do that they're going to need new allies and evade a ruthless enemy. Some of them will not survive.
My Thoughts
The Exiled Fleet was a great book. The second book in the series, the Sentinels were on the verge of starvation with little to no hope of escaping their situation.  Honestly, I don't know why it took me so long to get around to reading this book as I devoured it pretty much in one sitting and thought it was better than the first book. While the stakes were just as high as the first book, the danger was now much more political in nature as they now had to manoeuvre within an empire in which they had been used as pawns in a much bigger game; Rake and company now had to learn exactly what was going on, who they could trust, and what their role would be.   

I love Rake, Cavalon, and Jackin as main characters, and was so glad to see them developed in this book. Adequin Rake is a Titan, formerly part of an elite military group, tough and experienced, and now in charge of a rebellion for which she feels inadequately prepared. Rake is barely holding herself together due to events in the last book, and has to put aside her grief and feelings in order to deal with the current problems.  While I did get tired, at times, of Rake's self-sacrificial whining, I definitely appreciated learning a lot more about her and how her formative years influence her current choices. I did wonder though, how her impulsive nature and emotion-driven choices might affect future events that could have negative consequences for everyone.
Cavalon has been a favourite of mine since that opening line in the first book. His character is one with which I empathize the most and worry about the most as well.  In this book, he is struggling with the person he wants to be with the person he was and trying to reconcile the two. I think the author is doing a fabulous job developing this character, and with one amazing twist I never saw coming, am quite interested to see what she will do with Cavalon in future books.  
The plot was a more all over the place in this book, but not in a bad way, as there was a lot more going on, and in different places.  It definitely upped the tenseness for me, and I was worried a lot of the time that something was going to happen to the characters, especially after the first book.  The story was a bit more bleak however, as things were not going well the the Sentinels and you could feel the desperation throughout the book. This also explains a lot of the risks the crew took without a lot of planning; when you are desperate, you just have to act, but the results were not often what you wanted, which led to a few twists and turns I wasn't expecting.  The author did manage to pull most of the threads together at the end, but naturally left a few nuggets dangling for the next book in the series.  I was especially thrilled however, by the introduction of the Viator lore and insight in this book and can't wait to learn more about them.  
The Exiled Fleet was an entertaining and fascinating sequel.  The first part of the book was a bit more uneven with regards to tenseness and action, but the second half just kept them coming and I had a hard time putting down the book.  I enjoyed the characters and thought they were well-developed, and am looking forward to learning more about them.  And I haven't even had a chance to discuss the cloning issue in this book, one that I think is going to play a huge role in future stories. Can't wait to have some ethical discussions about that topic.  I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who loves sci-fi. And the author has officially announced that book 3 will be coming sometime in 2023.