Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. I’ve been busy with life, but I am hoping I can hit the ground running once the summer is over and I can throw my kids at the public school system! I’ve got a few open projects, and I hope to get back to publishing novels soon. I’m debating whether or not to hold off releasing novels for the rapid release strategy model of marketing. Finally, if I didn’t mention it, my story was accepted for the next Four Horsemen Anthology.
But enough about me, let’s get to this review!
Title: We Happy Few: The Leviathan Universe 2138
Author: Edward D. Hudson
Narrator: Tim Gerard Reynolds
Price: $2.99 USD (Kindle Edition) & $7.99 USD (Audible Add-On)
Obtained: I bought the story and audiobook combination from Amazon.
Rating: 4/5 Grenades
First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel. I wanted to provide a spoiler-free review, so here goes nothing! This novel follows the trials and tribulations of an acclaimed Shakespearean actor, Robert Taylor Ford. He’s at the top of his game, and his life is perfect, at least until his girlfriend and co-star turns up dead. And to add to this tragedy, he’s accused of the crime. Narrowly escaping arrest aboard the sleek, luxurious liner called the Pegasus, he ends up on a ship destined for the outer edges of the solar system. He’s finally approaching his freedom… that is until the pirate’s attack.
With power armor that makes them nearly invincible, the pirates easily take the ship and usher Ford and the other “useless” passengers to the airlocks. Using his unparalleled acting abilities, Ford takes on the most dangerous role of his life. If he fails to convince his new audience, his next performance could be his last…
This novel is what happens when you slam an FTL ship and all of the other science fiction tropes onto a Regency Era pirate ship on patrol in the Spanish Main. Its everything you like about both periods, a unique take on the standard pirate story.
In this novel, we see a singular focus given to Robert Taylor Ford with the other characters in the novel given secondary status. The main character was very flushed out, and I never felt like I didn’t know who he was or where he came from. I felt like I could relate to him as a person, as much as anyone really can with the snobby upper crust of a stagnating monarchal society. While most of the story is seen through Robert’s eyes, there were still plenty of secondary characters who I hope we get to see more of in the follow-on novels. Also, we need more red shirts dying glorious deaths. Like novels I read from military veterans, Edward used his military service to color this science fiction action-filled space opera. Here is a brief summary of the main character.
Robert Taylor Ford: He is a Shakespearean actor, who once served his period of military service as an officer of the crown. He got involved with the pirates when he was shanghaied during the capture of his ship. We learn a lot about his backstory throughout this story, but basically, he started out as a spoiled rich kid and grew into something more.
Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see where the author takes this character throughout this series!
Unlike most of the military fiction I love to read, this novel wasn’t just an action-packed novel. Don’t get me wrong, there was action, but it was dispersed among the world building in such a way as to raise stakes incrementally. The action was brutal, though the worst of it happened off screen. It seemed a bit sanitary for me because of that, which isn’t how I’d normally prefer my action. This does, however, mean this book would have wider appeal. As an author, I can appreciate that tactical decisions we sometimes make to give the readers what they want. Also, this book was not classified as military science fiction. This novel is a cyberpunk, galactic empire, an action-adventure story, and I feel like he was solidly within those genres. Overall, I would say that the story was internally consistent which allowed me to hit the “I believe” button. The premise was interesting, and the set-up was well executed with everything believable, well, as much as we could say about futuristic tech! I really loved the premise of this plot, and more importantly, I enjoyed how Edward D Hudson executed it. I couldn’t ask for anything more; excellent premise, believable execution and solid pacing! I again give Edward 4 out of 5 Grenades!
This is the first book in a new series, and I was hooked enough to want to read book two in this serious. Like in all the novels I bother to read to completion, this novel had a flushed-out world that felt complete. It was sometimes hard to follow because the information was spread throughout the novel, but in the end, you have all the information you need for the world. The world building started to get smoother the deeper into the story you got, but since this is the first book in a new series, I feel like that it was necessary to set the ball into motion. This series takes us past the world as we know and into a future that’s simply amazing to think about! The changes were believable, and there was no waving of the hands to address the realities of geopolitics at the international level. It seemed like all of the governments were evil, and it was often hard to figure out who was the bad guy. Normally I don’t like this, but it was well written enough that I’m willing to go along for the ride in book two. Regardless, the novel built on the modern world and pushed past it into the far future. I give the world building 4 out of 5 Grenades.
Like most of the novels that I don’t drop within the first several chapters, this one was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. There was never a place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and the equipment, which I enjoyed. Even the characters were given enough to form a mental image, which is a strength for Edward Hudson. Many authors push the trend of little to no details, which I dislike. I’m not perfect, and I’m sure you could find the same complaints about my own work, but I feel like books are better when there are more descriptions. This was an area where Edward Hudson showed his mettle, which is surprising for a debut novel. Overall, I give Edward 5 out of 5 grenades in this category!
This was the first novel I’ve listened to from narrator, Tim Gerard Reynolds. He did an amazing job narrating this book, it was solidly narrated. He had a heavy British accent, but it fit within the story, so I didn’t mind. Tim didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of his monotone, and that’s very important in an audio narrator. His performance didn’t feel robotic like a machine was reading the novel too me. Instead, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that he couldn’t put down. I bought this book in both formats but listened to it exclusively and was able to follow the story. I give him a 5 out of 5 grenades for his performance.
I really enjoyed this book, though it wasn’t exactly what I would normally read. It had pirates though and was written by a veteran, so I had to give it a chance. I thought the blurb was well written, but the cover was a bit dark for my taste. Admittedly, I am colorblind so your taste may vary there because there’s a very real chance that I do not see the cover art as it actually is. I like that the main character was a combat veteran, and I felt like that part of his internal makeup was excellently done. The brief exposure to the military culture that was shown in this book was spot on, which shouldn’t surprise me since Edward Hudson is a veteran himself. One of the things that I did not like was how the backstory was introduced. Jumping around on the timeline isn’t a storytelling technique that I enjoy, and it can get confusing for me to follow. In all likelihood, that’s probably more an issue with my brain damage than a storytelling flaw, but I do prefer a story that is told chronologically. Once we got past the initial world building, I felt like it was smooth sailing. Yes, that pun was intended. What can I say? It’s a story about pirates! Speaking of pirates, I did like how he portrayed them. Too often the idea is romanticized in a way that does not fit reality, and we are led to believe that they were genuinely nice people. It’s hard to reconcile that with the brutality many pirates performed upon their captured prisoners. In this novel, the pirates performed truly evil acts, and it was never sugarcoated. The final part that I didn’t like was the conclusion. It tied everything into a knot but left enough hanging that I wanted to find out more in that book isn’t out yet. I guess this officially means that Edward D Hudson is a member of the “Cliff Hanging Bastards Club.” I’m not sure, but I do believe he gets the T-shirt now! On a serious note, I know another book is coming, and I’ll definitely be reading it to find out what happens next. Basically, Edward managed to keep my interest long enough to hook me and picked up speed throughout the novel. It’s a fun little adventure story and is a book I would happily recommend. Also, this is an author I will definitely read again. Given that, I truly recommend this novel! Overall, I give it 4 out of 5 Grenades.
If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it! Well, unless it motivates you to reenact Robert Taylor Ford’s desperate retreat from the law aboard an interstellar spaceship. And then you find the galaxy’s first space pilot, Mark Watney, who captures your ship and shanghai you into service. And you end up fighting under the skull and crossbones of the Jolly Roger. And then your attempts to seize your next prize ends in disastrous failure. Defeated, you’re arrested and tried for piracy and hung from the yardarms of New Trafalgar. And as you take your dying breath, a clerk of the court runs towards the town square to delivery clemency orders. Yeah, it would suck to die just as you’ve been pardoned. Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you. But hey, at least you got to see strange locations and meet new and exotic aliens before your neck was snapped by the executioner as you fade into nothing. On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you. Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.
4 thoughts on “Book Review: We Happy Few”
Haha, I’ll be throwing my kids into school in September too. The summer – Holi Bob’s- as my teenager calls them, plays havoc on us writers. Congratulations on having your work published with Four Hoursemen Anthology, you’re a great writer so I’m not surprised.
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Thank you!! And yeah, the state funded babysitters are nice! 🙂
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Hey, it’s good to hear from you again. Seems like it’s been a while. I’ve been hoping things are moving along well, all in all, and you and your family.
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Thanks! Wife has her surgery soon, then recovery and normalcy!
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