Fringe Runner is an enjoyable, if undemanding, read featuring likable characters and an expanding set of characters. The story starts small but by the second book will include quite a group to follow as the fate of worlds begins to hang in the balance. Author Aukes isn’t afraid to kill of characters and there is plenty of action to keep readers invested.
With this first book, we’re introduced to key characters of a freight hauler captain Reyne and CUF warship captain Heid. Their worlds will collide as key villain figures begin to make power grabs that will involve both. There are the rebels (Torrents) whose failed coup was led by Reyne (the man many believe betrayed them in the end). There is the military power the CUF – whose dictatorial rule has oppressed many. And then there is the secret illuminati type of ‘movers and shakers’, led by Mason.
The book primarily focuses on Reyne and his working class crew. But Heid (who is the daughter of the mysterious Mason) also plays quite a part as she will start to pull away from her father and his power grab. Also playing a growing importance is Critch, the formal Marshall of the rebels and now a space pirate. He also believes his former superior, Reyne, betrayed the cause and lost the rebellion. These three characters are surrounded by those loyal to them, to round out the cast.
There is plenty of cloak and dagger, betrayals, and ground combat. I would have liked for more space battles but likely that will come with an epic final clash in the last book in the series. For the most part, this first book builds the story and focuses on Reyn and his supposed betrayal of the Torrents.
In all, I enjoyed Fringe Runner. It may not have the depth of a CJ Cherry or the tension of a Jack Campbell series, but it has its own charm and keeps readers invested to the end. Note that I listened to the Audible version and the narrator did an ok job (though he had an odd accent for the pirates that sounded like a cross between Jamaican and Irish).