Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with them agriculture, art, interstellar technology…and then disappeared without a trace, leaving Neek’s people to worship them as gods.
Neek does not believe—and has paid dearly for it with an exile from her home for her heretical views.
Yet, when the crew stumbles into an armed confrontation between the sheriffs of the Charted Systems and an unknown species, fate deals Neek an unexpected hand in the form of a slave girl—a child whose ability to telepathically manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of that of an Ardulan god. Forced to reconcile her beliefs, Neek chooses to protect her, but is the child the key to her salvation, or will she lead them all to their deaths?
“Ardulum: First Don” is a very hard book for me to rate. I guess I just had the wrong kind of expectations. It just wasn’t for me.
I really liked Neek and her crew. They’re quite an interesting band of people. It was fun to watch them interact.
It does get a bit violent at times, so beware. I didn’t mind, as it didn’t get too gory. There was lots of action and you certainly never find yourself bored.
The publisher has this tagged as a FF pairing. That’s a bit misleading, I think. There is no romance at all in this story. We do have a very strong connection between two women, but it’s not romantic. Not yet, at least. Personally, I don’t always need a romance in my books, but I think the FF tag raises the wrong kind of expectations.
It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for well-written Science Fiction with good world building. To me, world building isn’t that cherry on top, but the very essence of any good SciFi story. And Ardulum does not disappoint in that regard.
But the thing is, there was just too much world building, in a way. What I didn’t realize is that this is a hard SciFi story. So lots of science and technology and hundreds of different aliens and epic space battles and the like. I’m not good with technology or science stuff, so I found it a bit tedious at times. It felt unnecessarily complicated.
There was also bit of too much telling and not enough showing going on. I mean, the Neek need three genders to reproduce. And then there’s species that seem to have only one gender and go by “they” or “xir”. If you’re gonna tell me you don’t need a man and a woman to make a baby, then I want to know just how that works. I don’t need explicit sex scenes, but I want to know just how reproduction works.
The author most certainly has a very creative mind. I’m really impressed with the sheer amount of detail J.S. Fields came up with is astonishing.
Long story short, I think “Ardulum: First Don” just wasn’t my genre. While I love Science Fiction, hard Science Fiction has never been my thing. I’m not good at any kind of natural sciences and I tend to get bored by too many facts.
I’m still a little torn on whether or not I want to read the rest of the series. I did enjoy the general idea and I really quite liked the MCs. And I do kinda want to find out what happens next…
The cover by Natasha Snow is gorgeous. I love the colours.
ebook, 248 pages
Published February 27th 2017 by NineStar Press (first published February 22nd 2017)