Author: Ann Aquirre
Rating: A, 4.5 stars
What I’m Talking About:
Author Ann Aguirre has based Perdition, the first book in her new series, The Dred Chronicles, in same alternative universe as her Sirantha Jax Series, but set several decades into the future. Instead of the expanse of space that was the world for a jumper like Jax, the whole of main character Dresdemona “Dred” Devos’ story is narrowed and squeezed down into the confines of the penal colony ship that is Perdition. Once upon a time Perdition was a vast mining vessel. Part prison, part asylum, now it slowly rots away in a static orbit around a dead asteroid. The prisoners inside it have multiple life sentences with no possibility of parole or escape and they are slowly rotting away as well. They are all but forgotten by humanity and the Conglomerate that exiled them there. For the sake of sanity and survival, the inhabitants of Perdition have each aligned themselves to one of six charismatic leaders in as many territories. Dred, dubbed “Queen Dread” by her subjects, is the leader of “Queensland” territory. In the same way The Sirantha Jax Series followed Jax through multiple books, The Dred Chronicles will continue to follow the rule of Queen Dread. Books two and three have already been named Havoc and Breakout.
Perdition is a science fiction read first. The romantic elements are present, but secondary. Initially I had difficulty getting into the flow of the book because the setting of a penal colony is not a new sci-fi concept and my mind kept bringing up old references. Escape from New York and Alien3made big bucks on the idea. Ironically when they filmed No Escape, based on the 1987 book The Penal Colony by Richard Herley, they shot it Queensland, Australia. Once I let go, however, and dug into Perdition, I liked it. It had a very gritty feel. Parts of the book are exceptionally bloody and violent, but given the setting, it makes sense and is not gratuitous.
Newly arrived on Perdition with the reader is Jael. Jael is brought forward from the Jax series after serving prison time for events that took place in book #3 Doubleblind. It is not necessary to have read the previous series to begin this new one. Jael’s self-loathing got a little over-done at times, but Aguirre does justify it, at least to my satisfaction. Jael is the hero you want to like and so you do. Likable heros always have corners of humility and self-doubt.
The great Queen Dread is tough, strong, at times regal, and very human. Everything she does is with a purpose. She didn’t choose to be queen, but she has accepted the role and run with it. At her side in the political games between territories are a few trusted advisors. I especially liked Ike and Einar. Jael quickly inserts himself into this inner circle and proves worthy of the upset to established routine.
I will admit there are a few lines of dialog that read cheesier than swoony. I liked the characters enough to let them go. In other places the vocabulary was out of place. How many prison inmates use the word “truculent” correctly in a sentence? When Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan the Barbarian made it into a reference I laughed out loud and read it to my husband who often quotes this line (he’s a high school football coach), but it’s such a non sequitur that I’m inclined to believe that Aguirre had to have lost a bet to have included it:
A lot of the last half of the book is taken up in the tactics and strategies of war. This is where Aguirre really excels and the story picks up speed. The entire book plays to a very significant point articulated by Jael, “…the man standing behind him couldn’t have looked prouder as the troop marched by. You’d think this was happening on a much larger scale. But maybe it didn’t matter. It was still important. Even though this wasn’t a country or a planet, it was still their world.” No matter how small, everyone can identify with protecting what’s theirs’. Perdition is a good read and I can recommend it.
4.5 stars: Loved it – enthusiastically recommend (A)
About the Book:
WELCOME TO HELL
The prison ship Perdition, a floating city where the Conglomerate’s most dangerous criminals are confined for life, orbits endlessly around a barren asteroid.
Life inside is even more bleak. Hailed as the Dread Queen, inmate Dresdemona “Dred” Devos controls one of Perdition’s six territories, bordered on both sides by would-be kings eager to challenge her claim. Keeping them at bay requires constant vigilance, as well as a steady influx of new recruits to replace the fallen. Survival is a constant battle, and death is the only escape.
Of the newest convicts, only one is worth Dred’s attention. The mercenary Jael, with his deadly gaze and attitude, may be the most dangerous criminal onboard. His combat skill could give her the edge she needs, if he doesn’t betray her first. Unfortunately, that’s what he does best. Winning Jael’s allegiance will be a challenge, but failure could be worse than death…
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Series: The Dred Chronicles #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Format(s): Paperback (352 pgs), E-book, Audio CD, Audible
Book Source: Publisher
Perdition (Book 1)
Reviews in the (Previous) Series:
Aftermath (Sirantha Jax #5)