Space knights! Laser swords! Explosions! Fuzzy alien waifus!
Bored of terrible new Star Wars movies that have nothing but contempt for you? Stories that try to tell you that heroism is stupid and futile? Tired of postmodernist dreck? Try Jon Del Arroz’s action/adventure analog for crusading… in space!
The story features Drin, a Templar who has something of an existential crisis but instead of bemoaning everything in the universe, he prays for guidance and seeks to do what is right. Anais is a space princess that gets kidnapped by degenerate slavers. The villains in this story are so slimy and awful you can’t wait for them to get justice.
Religion is taken seriously by the characters, which is a nice change from the usual fare of it either being nonexistent or a thin, phony veneer. It’s actually a pretty big deal for the plot as Drin does a lot of contemplation in trying to figure out the universe he exists in. The last time I saw science fiction treat religion seriously was in some John C. Wright and in reading Dan Abnett’s Warhammer 40k Gaunt’s Ghosts series.
Drin witnesses the horrors of war and abandons his vows in order to make sense of his world. His revelations aren’t lazily written, tired ideas. Jon Del Arroz actually throws some wonderful nuance into the tropes he explores and I enjoyed watching Drin grow as a character from his doubts at the start to the very satisfying conclusion.
There aren’t a lot of big surprise here, but that doesn’t matter. This is a book that sets out to be fun and succeeds. You get a genuinely masculine hero that pummels evil. You get a space princess that has a pretty solid character arc. Altogether, this had the feeling of a good 80s-to-early 90s action flick. Cast Dolph Lundgren circa 1988 as Drin and throw in some simultaneously awesome/cheesy 80s special effects and you’d have an instant action classic.
If you want a fast-paced, fun ride buy a copy here.