BOOK REVIEW: The Indranan War Trilogy, by K. B. Wagers

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Publisher: Orbit

Genre: Space Opera

Books: 3

Published: 2016-2017

Verdict: 4/5

Hail Bristol is just another gunrunner. Or so she wants people to think. When her family is attacked, she is ofrced to return home and embrace her birthright as the next Empress of Indrana. She’s not entirely happy about the prospect, and neither are her many enemies . . .

If books were food, then the Indranan War is the chocolate cake of the space opera genre. It’s got all the right ingredients for a winner. A heroine as quick with her quips as she is with her guns, a small crew of loyal friends, espionage and intrigue in the court, a brewing war between two interstellar empires. Pretty much everything I look for in the genre. It doesn’t rewrite the rulebook, it doesn’t put to much strain on the imagination, and the entire trilogy is a bit much to digest in a single sitting, but it’s fun and it’s enjoyable. So. Chocolate cake science fiction at its finest.

What sets The Indranan War aprt from the hundreds of other space operas out there is the strength of its female characters. Now, female characters are abundant in the genre, and many of them are strong. But the Indranan War has both strong characters and a variety of them. This is probably the first space opera series I’ve read where the female characters so clearly outnumber their male counterparts. Which is only natural, as Indrana itself is a staunchly matriarchal society. This little piece of worldbuilding is enough to set Wagers work apart from that of their colleagues. What I particularly admire is that at no point is the matriarchal socity presented as superior, or really all that different, to a patriarchal one. At the end of the day, they’re all just people.

This is a series where characters wear their hearts on their sleeves. The identities of traitors and frineds are usually obvious from their first interaction with Hail. This isn’t a bad thing. Subtlety isn’t really the name of the game here, and its refreshing to see people who are genuinely heroes and villains. This also means that when the heroes have to make hard choices, it hurts them all the more. The protagonists are all a likable bunch, well-oiled and with great interactions. There are points when the dynamic morphs into a >shudder< found family, but generally speaking I liked the mixing of bonds of friendship and dutiful loyalty. Hail and Emmory in particular make a great double act.

There’s an almost pulp like senibility to proceedings here, as once the pace picks up it rarelys lows down. Momentum is sustained across the enture trilogy without let up. The middle volume was the strongest for me, but all three make for great reads. If you’re looking for some frantic, action-packed adventure, this is definitley one to pick up. The Indian/Hindu influence to the worldbuilding is also a mark in its favour, as it’s a setting I haven’t come across very often in SF. There’s another trilogy set in the same universe that’s almost complete, and I know I’ll be picking it up.

The Indranan War is as fun and adventurous as fun adventures come, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy taking a bite.

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