Empire of Bones: A Review

I know this is going to come as a shock to you folks, but I read. A lot. It blows your minds, I can tell. A writer who reads. Well, I do enjoy a good yarn, and I’m always on the lookout for good stuff to read that isn’t always in my usual repertoire of genres. You may have read the reviews I did for Paul Cooley’s incredible The Street (and if you haven’t read it yet, you’re doing yourself a disservice), along with Starla Huchton’s amazing Evolution series. I know what I like, and I know what I think I might like. I also know what I will plan on pestering someone for more books and very quickly. Terry Mixon’s Empire of Bones is one of those series.

For those who’ve not heard of Terry Mixon, he’s one of the three hosts of the Dead Robot’s Society podcast with the aforementioned Paul Cooley and the oft-mentioned Justin Macumber. The podcast is available on iTunes for your listening and learning pleasure.

A quick rundown on the world Terry has created: There was an empire from Earth, they’re human, some rebels did some bad stuff and fractured the empire and put back technology about two hundred years or more. Humanity is just regaining the stars, and that’s about where Terry starts us off. We’re introduced to Jared Mertz, a commander in the Empire’s Navy, given the opportunity to boldly go where no one has gone before and look for remnants of the old empire, and even Earth itself. Jared is a pretty decent sort who earned his position and commission without having to depend on his familial links. You see, Jared’s the Emperor’s son from the wrong side of the sheets, which of course starts drama with the legitimate family members of the imperial family. Jared is a bit above the whole thing and just wants to do his job, which is head out among the stars and explore.

Jared gets the chance to head out on an exploration mission, which is great. What isn’t so great is his half-sister, Princess Kelsey,  is coming along as an ambassador to whatever Jared’s ships might find. While the characters go back and forth with their preconceptions of one another, there’s definitely a mutual respect and growth between the two characters. The dialogue and verbal by-play between not only Jared and Kelsey, but with all the various people in the book was excellent and rather easy to follow.

Reading the highly condensed history of the Empire was informative without being rushed. Terry also doesn’t bog down the story with too much science as some authors do. The “flip points”, as an example, are simply wormholes, but calling them flip points makes them seem more accepted in the story. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy learning new stuff when I read a book, but if you bring too much hard science into the sci-fi, you run the risk of either losing the reader in the theorems, which is bad, or boring the hell out of the reader, which is much worse. Terry blends it pretty well, and keeps the story moving.

Quite possibly my only complaint, and it’s not really that, is the ship combat. I guess I’m a victim of the long drawn-out battles of television and movies, but I felt the ship-to-ship battles were over entirely too quickly. Perhaps a little more description for the battles would have been nice, but that’s merely personal preference on my part. I enjoyed it all.

If you’re looking for the beginning of a great space-based military science-fiction tale, pick up Empire of Bones by Terry Mixon. It’s a lot of fun, well-written, and I would definitely recommend it.

Tune in next time when I’ll figure out just how I’m going to appear at the Virginia Beach Book Festival on September 27th. It’s free and open to the public. I’ll be there with new stuff! And swag! And I’ll even sign more than just books! Woohoo! Until then, good people!

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~ by Walker on September 7, 2014.

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