Genre: Science Fiction – Space Opera
Series: Lucifer’s Star #2
Publisher: Crossroad Press (January 5, 2018)
Length: 279 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
Sequels can be hit-or-miss with me, especially when I enjoy the first installment of a series as much as I did Lucifer’s Star. The opening salvo of CT Phipps and Michael Suttkus’s dark space opera a fast-paced, exciting introduction to a new galaxy far, far away, one teeming with memorable characters, riveting combat, and mesmerizing political machinations. But while I went into my read of its sequel with a bit of trepidation, I’m really glad to write that the sophomore slump did not affect Lucifer’s Nebula at all; this new book delivered a story which lives up to its predecessor in every respect.
It all begins with the former Count of the Arch Duchy of Crius, Cassius Mass, helming the space freighter Melampus. He and his crew are running weapons for some shady operators before being double crossed. But it isn’t anything new or unexpected to these hardened outlaws. What is unexpected is the message they receive from Ida Claire, former captain of the Melampus and spy for the Commonwealth, who has an offer which Cassius literally can’t turn down: deliver a message to the Free Systems Alliance and get past misdeeds completely erased!
Naturally, the mission is not quite so straightforward as all that, and, soon, Cassius and crew find themselves embroiled in another adventure where the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance. Vendettas are exposed. Double crosses take place. Space battles breakout. Romance blossoms. Political agendas spring up. And Cassius’s past is front-and-center in much of it; people he thought long gone returned to haunt him or help him.
As with Lucifer’s Star, the driving force behind this outstanding space opera is the well developed characters. Cassius continuing to grow before our reading eyes. Returning characters like Isla and Clarice slowly evolving. And the introduction of new cast members handled deftly, as they are carefully molded into very realistic individuals who exhibit their own unique perspectives and personalities. The continual spectacle of these true-to-life people dealing with intense conflicts, double crosses, and high stress situations in a well developed galaxy driving the narrative forward to its stunning conclusion.
As for any negatives with the book, I would merely say that there were a few plots which opened up strong but fell by the wayside once the action began. Certainly, these were more minor plots which didn’t exactly build upon the ongoing galactic crisis theme, but they were interesting rabbit holes which I wish the authors had found time to return to from time to time.
Dark. Heroic. Character driven. Exciting. Humorous. Filled with inventive ideas, colorful cast members, and enough action to satisfy even die-hard action fans, Lucifer’s Nebula is a fresh approach to space opera which more than lived up to my expectations. Phipps and Suttkus doing an outstanding job recognizing what worked in the first book, replicating that feel yet expanding the saga in new directions, setting up fresh opportunities for further adventures in this galaxy with these people. Definitely, a series more people should give a try!