Note: This review was originally written for my author blog at www.mariaviolante.com
Semper Audacia, by M. Pax, is a "space-opera" novelette of roughly 13,000 words. I received a copy for free from the author for the review - and then I went out and bought it. No really, it was that good.
Let me start out this review by saying that I'm generally not a fan of shorter fiction. If it's under twenty-thousand words, most authors barely find time to squeeze in some exposition and introduce the main hook. As such, shorter works usually feel forced and one-dimensional. Now, don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that's true of all short fiction writers - some of my favorite works are shorter works of fiction (I'm looking at you, Neil Gaiman). I'm saying that it's hard, damn hard, to do it right.
That's why this novelette took me completely by surprise. Before I get into the good, though, let me touch on the few things I didn't like about it.
1. There were a few spots that needed a little polishing - a few commas, an adverb instead of an adjective, that sort of thing. I doubt your average reader would even notice, but as an ex-English teacher, those things really stick out to me. I think it says something that "Semper Audacia" was well - written enough that I was willing to overlook that; usually, I get to the second typo and feel like tossing the thing in the trash.
2.) I was a bit confused about how the races understood each other. Was there a piece of technology that did the translating? Were they bilingual?
Aaaaaannnndddd...... that's it for the bad.
Onto to the good:
***Warning, there are a few MINOR spoilers in here. If you don't want to read them, take my word for it - it's good - or download a sample and get a taste of the novelette for yourself.***
1. I think that one of the hardest things an author can do is write an engaging story in which the protagonist spends a lot of time in isolation. Human beings are social creatures and we cling to all things interpersonal. The fact that Leda is the last soldier, and largely alone, makes her part a difficult one to write. Yet M. Pax pulls it off swimmingly, largely due to the advent of the quasi-ghost brigades, the special suits, and the injection of relevant (and emotionally touching) flashbacks.
2. The language choice was excellent, as well. M. Pax creates her world through a rich combination of surprisingly accurate descriptors that invoke all five senses and convey a great sense of action, all without being overly wordy.
3. I loved the protagonist. She was complex, well - rounded, and remarkably human, and I quickly became caught up in her fears and struggles.
4. It's a good ending. I wish I could elaborate further on that, but I guess you're just going to have to read it - and at 99 cents, it's quite the steal. If you'd like to purchase your own copy, you can find it on Smashwords or Kindle.
5. OVERALL RATING: 4.5 STARS.
You can see more information about this awesome Indie author on her personal website at mpaxauthor.com
(reviewed the day of purchase)