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The Jujari are ready for peace. Awen, a young member of the Order of the Luma, is charged with brokering the peace. The Republic has assigned the elite Marine Recon to protect the Luma. Lieutenant Magnus’s Charlie Platoon is given the assignment to escort the Luma and provide protection during the negotiations. When the meeting doesn’t go as planned Lieutenant Magnus and Awen embark on a journey of political intrigue and lost civilizations while battling a dangerous new enemy.
Why did I choose this book?
I received a review copy of The ruins of the galaxy shortly before it was released. I very rarely accept review copies, but in this case, the book was still preorder. I follow Christopher Hopper, the author, on twitter. Hopper was posting teaser art and dressing up with his family in Ruins of the Galaxy t-shirts. It seemed the book was a labor of love.
I read the book and was getting ready to write this review when I noticed it was republished with J.N. Chaney, an author I am very familiar. I reached out to both authors about the change, and it seems they decided to team up, revise the book a bit, and then re-release it. I bought the re-released version on Kindle and familiarized myself with the changes. This review is for the currently released book Ruins of the Galaxy.
You can read more about the editions and the changes here: https://greg.reviews/RuinsEditions
Story – 4 stars
This story hooked me within the first few pages. Hopper creates tension between the Marines, the Luma, and the Jujarri in chapter one. It doesn’t take long for the action to start.
I wasn’t able to predict much of this story arc. Ruins of the Galaxy is sometimes a running, gunning military science fiction novel. Other times the book is a space opera engaged in space travel and space battles. Right when you think you have this book figure out, bam, there are supernatural powers (or something).
The good news is the supernatural powers part are done in a way which makes sense to the story and with the characters. The powers may be science-driven and not fantasy-driven. Hopefully, we learn about the source of these abilities in a later book.
My favorite part of the book is when they finally figure out who the antagonist is and some of their motivation. It takes a little bit to get there, but there is a bit of political intrigue which needs time to manifest. Once the actual plot of Ruins of the Galaxy begins to manifest, we start to understand the title
Characters – 4.5 stars
Awen dau Lothlinium of the Luma and Lieutenant Adonis Olin Magnus of Marine Recon Charlie Platoon are the main characters of the book. The story follows Awen and Magnus until Kane the Antagonist makes his debut.
There are several supporting characters which add tremendously to the story. Like many science fiction books but Awen and Magnus assemble or collect people into a crew of sorts.
Ezo and TO-96 are introduced in the first quarter of the book and are constant companions to Awen. Awen and Magnus aren’t sure what to make of Ezo; he is part criminal and part technical genius. TO-96 is a bot artificial intelligence. Ezo programmed TO-96 and outfitted him with significant weaponry.
Later in the book, Magnus meets Piper and her mother, Valerie Stone. I don’t want to give away any spoilers about these characters. Both Piper and Valerie have essential roles to play as they traverse the story with Magnus.
While reading, it seems Ruins of the Galaxy is going going to be about a specific character until Hopper introduces a new character which completely changes the story.
Pace – 4 stars
Ruins of the Galaxy is a fast read. It is meant to be the first book in a series. This book avoided some of the pitfalls of “book 1’s” such as a massive build-up with no conclusion or excessive details around world-building with a little story.
Hopper transitions between minor story arcs quickly and often giving readers little wins throughout the book while building the series story arc.
I didn’t find myself skipping large sections of dialog or dreading picking the book up. This book is also not in the “can’t put it down” category. There were some slower sections where I would stop reading for the night. Whether or not that is a good thing is mainly up to the reader.
In order to score five stars for pace, the book has to be “willing to stay up late and miss work” or “forgot to eat for an entire Saturday” level.
Originality – 4 stars
There are several familiar science fiction tropes used in Ruins of the Galaxy. As far as I can tell the story is very original. The books didn’t remind me of any other books I have read recently, which is a good thing.
The most original part was the abilities of the Luma. I know some of you reading this will probably say this was too close to being like the force in Star Wars. As you read deeper into the book, it diverges significantly. I’m not going to dissect the differences because it a fun part of the book and I don’t want to spoil it.
Technology – 3.5 stars
The technology aspect of Ruins of the Galaxy is one area where I think Hopper could have spent a bit more time. There were no real advances in the technology of science fiction or explanations of how some of the technology works. If you are a fan of “hard sci-fi’, this book may leave you unsatisfied.
On the positive, this book utilized standard science-fiction technologies nicely. There is a set of technology such as FTL, artificial gravity, air recyclers, etc. which the readers can accept they work. I don’t recall any dates in the book but Ruins is sufficiently in the future to allow for advanced technology to be common enough not to explain.
If we learn the Luma ability is technological and not biological, then it may warrant a revision.
I enjoyed this book. Critically, I think Hopper may have tried to pack too much into this first book. As I stated in my opening, this has a bit of military sci-fi, space opera, space fantasy, and exploration. Each of these components would have made for a fantastic book.
could have read a book about Awen and her interactions with the Luma and the Jujari. There is a book in here about Magnus. There is probably a book about Piper and her story leading up to meeting Magnus.
Either way, somehow the hodge-podge worked. Ruins of the Galaxy was fun and different. It is absolutely impossible to predict what is going to happen from chapter to chapter.
Do I recommend this book?
Yes, 100% without a doubt. So much so that this book made it in the top 10 books I have read in 2019. There is so much story potential packed in this book the next books could take any number of directions. I suspect many of you will prefer Magnus and want the story to focus more on the military aspect. For me, Awen is where I hope the next books focus. I also love the exploration and discovery of long-dead civilizations.
I’m hoping we see much more ruins in the Ruins of the Galaxy series to come.
If Ruins of the Galaxy sounds interesting, you can buy it here: https://amzn.to/2H6jijP
Learn more about Christopher Hopper here: https://greg.reviews/hopper
Learn more about J.N. Chaney here: https://greg.reviews/jnchaney
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