Dragon Road, like its predecessor Skyfarer, is an exuberant sci fi that references Star Wars in large chunks. This isn’t deep or cerebral sci fi; take it as an adventure story that Spielberg or Lucas might have created, if Star Wars hadn’t come along. It’s fun, amusing, and with a broad range of characters that bring back the fun of TV series like Firefly. While this sequel continues where the predecessor left off we have a new story-wide arc involving politics, secret societies, the fantastical, and a nice series-long mystery to solve.
Story: Aimee saved Elias from himself but he has yet to come to terms with the evil he did when he was known as Azrael. Nor does the crew of the Elysium fully trust him. But the crew follows Aimee and her mentor Harkon and tolerate the odd young man Elias. When Harkon Bright is called upon to be a neutral moderator for the planet-ship Iseult, the crew will become embroiled in a nasty political squabble between three new captain candidates, a mystery over the death of the previous captain, and a universe-wide threat growing stronger in the shadows.
It’s hard to avoid the Star Wars parallels: from “Jedi Master” Harkon Bright to “Luke Skywalker” apprentice Aimee. Elias feels very much like Kylo Ren or a turned Annikin Skywalker (complete with a new fancy name when indoctrinated into the evil order). And the crew is very much a fractious Firefly set of characters each riffing off each other. But we don’t have an evil Empire here so much as an ancient evil reawakening. Aimee, as a main character, is a bit too powerful and people just trust the young woman implicitly but not really logically. As well, she always finds a solution to every problem and overcomes every fight easily because she is super powerful and a darn good person. It means she feels very overidealized and unrealistic.
The concept of the planet ships was good and Brassey did a good job of giving us their history as well as setting the scene and world building for this second novel. Is it at all believable? Nah, but don’t let that bother you and just have fun with the ride. Brassey keeps the action going with interspersed moments of pathos and humor. None of the scenes are original nor are the characters particularly unique or distinct. But perhaps in their homogeneity of every science fiction and fantasy we’ve read, they are relatable and people you want to follow.
If I had one nitpick, it was the sheer amount of profanity here. Because this has such a broad appeal to all ages, it was jarring to have someone calling another character a c**t or using F**k so often. This isn’t a dark and gritty fantasy nor a sci fi horror where that profanity would make sense and set the atmosphere. I don’t feel the profanity was needed or added to the story in any way (imagine if Darth Vader called Leia a c**t for tricking him with the location of the secret rebel base – or Luke said “f**k a lot in annoyance).
In all, Dragon Road is a great adventure read that moves quickly and keeps readers engaged throughout. There are some nifty and fun surprises/twists and it reads very much like a blockbuster movie. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.