I got a great feeling when reading this book. It was that feeling of getting in at the ground level on something special. About 30 pages into Michael Moreci’sBlack Star Renegades, and you know you are in a safe pair of hands. This is in large part due to Moreci’s ability to effectively scene set, while simultaneously firmly establishing characters and circumstance. This is not an easy task to do in such an effective way: Moreci quickly drops you into a complex universe without any extraneous information. You get the essential “what you need to know at the start” and you’re off, immersed in the world of the book. As the story-line unravels you gradually become part of this battle of good and evil in a galaxy apart.
Much has been made of the Star Wars influence in this work and it is also acknowledged at the end of the book. While this book will hold appeal to fans of that franchise, I think it is just as accurate to speak of shared influences. We get well-rounded intriguing archetype characters in Black Star Renegades that Star Wars does not have a monopoly over. One can just as easily reference myths such as the Arthurian Sword in the Stone in the early segments of this book. We also see many Japanese influences in his choice of weaponry for the peacekeeping force. These are elegant weapons from a more civilized age.
Indeed the Rokura, the ancient weapon is at the core of this book. Forged by the Wu-Xia in the Quarry Spire, it is destined to be wielded by the Paragon to bring peace to the galaxy. Peace can’t come soon enough as the Praxis Empire headed by its self-appointed Queen Ga Halle, tightens its grip on the galaxy, with the only restraint on their power the Well with its Rai peace-keeping forces of ground troops and starfighter pilots.
Moreci’s character formation within this context is in a class of its own. The individual characters are so believable, both individually and as a team. When the camaraderie is at it’s height is also when this book is at its funniest – and it is very funny in parts. There are some great exchanges, particularly in the dialogue between Cade Sura (the principal character) and Kira Sen, as well as the hilarious drone 4-Quel who is programmed with a particularly (if perhaps unintentionally) quirky sense of morality. I should also say that the bar scene where Cade and Kira start their adventure together is priceless.
At the end of this book, one comes away from a group of beloved characters, with a firm sense of how a large scale galactic conflict is playing out. That is an achievement that Moreci deserves due recognition for. It is so remarkably difficult to establish detailed world building in such a short space of time, while simultaneously keeping the reader invested in the characters. The words paint a wonderful picture on the canvas of this book’s pages. This is aided by excellent pacing of the book, and perfectly judged switches between the core dramatis personae.
In short, now that I’m involved in this world, I’m eager to explore it further. The ending indicates that further installments could be in the pipeline, and that made this reviewer one very happy reader. This was one of the best genre books that I have read in many years and I now look forward to watching Mr Moreci’s progress alongside some of my other favorite authors as the years go by.
Score – 9 out of 10