Disclaimer: I know Gareth. (Hi, Gareth!)
With the exception of Iain M Banks and Ken Macleod, space opera tends not to be my thing. But I greatly enjoyed Gareth’s last series (Ack Ack Macaque – go read it, but don’t blame me if you laugh loudly on the bus), plus I was at an event where Gareth read from Embers a while back, so I gave it a go.
Following a devastating war, a small crew (including a sentient warship) has joined the space equivalent of the Red Cross/coast guard and devoted themselves to doing good. After a rescue that has gone disastrously wrong, they receive a distress call from a heavily populated civilian ship in a disputed solar system and take off immediately with a brand new crew member.
Meanwhile, a couple of spies fighting a dirt proxy war on an unimportant planet take an interest and hitch a lift.
When the Trouble Dog gets to the solar system, there are more questions than answers.
I couldn’t put this down. There are multiple first-person narrators. I’m told that everyone’s favourites are the ship and the very alien alien that is the ship’s engineer, but I also had a soft spot for Ashton Childe, the really inept spy. There are Big Honkin’ Space Guns (thanks Stargate) but it’s really a book about people, their relationships and dealing with the aftermath of what they did in war. Even the ship has PTSD, and a war criminal has turned poet.
You should definitely read this as soon as possible.