Monday, April 6, 2015

The Long Way Home, by Sabrina Chase

I received a copy of this book for review from a fellow MGC fan, Laura Montgomery. She has no affiliation with Sabrina Chase, other than being a fan of her work, and she thought I would enjoy this first book in the Sequoyah series. She is correct.
I have become more aware of cover art since one of my oldest friends, Mylon Gramling, has entered the field. "The Long Way Home" has a very evocative cover by Les Peterson, of a wounded space-suited figure being carried away by another, while a third guards the way. The theme of the book, dedication to comrades-in-arms, is thus established even before the you have read the first page. That theme continues, with the dedication "To the memory of Captain Carroll “Lex” Lefon, USN (ret) 1961–‌2012. Officer, gentleman, pilot, raconteur, father. He could fly anything with an engine."
I confess that I was unaware of the achievements of this aviator, but a quick Google search showed him to be one of the breed of warrior scholars; I wish I had been able to read his milblog as he wrote it.
The book opens with main character Moire in the middle of a dogfight in space. Her quick reflexes, accompanied by good luck, save her life, and she uses a piece of debris to allow her to close the distance to the enemy carrier and destroy it. Two highly significant points in the dogfight stand out: one to an observer, back on the home ship, and one to the reader. The observer notices that Moire banks her craft during the dogfight. That is a standard flight procedure in atmosphere, but not in space, because there is nothing pushing back on the airframe to make the tactic work. (By the way: if you didn't know it already, this shows that Sabrina is a writer who has done her homework. I caught it, because I am the son of a pilot, and when I analyzed the battles between the tie-fighters and the X-wings, I realized they were using atmospheric tactics in a vacuum. It makes for better movie scenes, but it's bogus.)
The second highly significant point in the battle is directed toward the reader: Moire is NOT a person who is acclimated to her current time. She has been pulled out of her history, and placed in this one.
A note to those who care: I really don't like 'lost in foreign culture' stories. They are too creepy. I've BEEN lost in foreign cultures, and the quick wits that save Moire from exposing herself are something I do not possess. Give me a working knowledge of the language, some money, and access to an embassy or consul, and I do just fine. Being totally ripped out of context, not so much.
Fortunately, Moire does have quick wits, and although we don't know at first how she got where she is, she knows. And Sabrina has her bring us up to date before I got to the point where my skin was itching so badly I couldn't stand reading it anymore.
I confess that I like Sabrina's characters. They are real people, and the good guys are good because they treat other people fairly. The bad guys are charming monsters, and the REALLY bad guys have clean nails and expensive suits and work in climate controlled offices. Those really bad guys have betrayed Moire, mostly in ways we don't even understand. However, we are given enough information about them to sympathize with Moire's decision to keep Sequoyah a secret from them. Even when we don't know what Sequoyah is.
The book is extremely well written, and most happily, is the first of a series. I LOVE series books. They allow me to immerse myself into another world for much, much longer periods than single books do. To be effective, though, they have to tie up plot developments reasonably. Yes, I'm looking at you, George R R Martin. You know what you did.

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