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Fleet of Knives by Gareth L. Powell

book cover of Fleet of Knives

A worthy sequel to the first novel in this series, Embers of War. In that book, the spaceship Trouble Dog stumbled across a vast armada of sleeping warships and gave them a mission: to prevent further wars on the scale of the Apocalypse War that had just ended. Here, the ramifications of that suggestion are seen: that armada (now known as the Fleet of Knives) decides that the only sure way to do this is to destroy all warships (including the Trouble Dog which had awakened it) and eliminate interstellar travel.

All the strengths of the first book remain strong here: the characterisation is excellent, with Nod the Druff (the Trouble Dog’s engineer) getting some particularly awesome, wryly humorous POV chapters. Konstanz, Clay and Preston are back, picking up the pieces after the traumatic events of the first book. Ona Sudak returns, her past experience in the Apocalypse War making her uniquely qualified for service with the Fleet of Knives. And this time, we’re introduced to the crew of Lucy’s Ghost, “Lucky” Johnny Schultz & co., who attempt a salvage mission on a long-abandoned vessel originating from the alien Nymtoq civilisation… before an attack by interdimensional monsters, breaking through the fabric of reality, puts them into mortal strife.

Once again, if you’re the kind of person who craves stories about deep space but is sick of the macho, characterisation-light approach that plagues much of the genre, this series is a must-read. There are so many wonderful character moments between the action and plot developments, and everyone feels believable and richly complicated in their inner lives. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the next book.

Books in the Embers of War trilogy

  1. Embers of War
  2. Fleet of Knives (you are here)
  3. Light of Impossible Stars

★★★★

photo of Jessica Smith is a left-wing feminist who loves animals, books, gaming, and cooking; she’s also very interested in linguistics, history, technology and society.