Down Among the Dead

Orbit: Hachette. (Farian War, Bk. 2). Dec. 2019. 448p. ISBN 9780316411257. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9780316411264. SF
Betrayed and attacked during a peace talk on Earth, Hail Bristol, empress of Indrana and former gunrunner, has lost many of her subjects, including her brothers. Now Hail and her remaining bodyguards are “guests” of the Shen, ruthless, immortal aliens at war for centuries with Indrana’s allies, the Farians. While Hail’s friends attempt to find a way to escape, she deals with her crumbling mental state and the ghosts of her dead people. When the Shen reveal dire truths about the attack on Earth and the future, Hail is forced to question everything she has believed—and decide whether to remain true to her Farian allies or fight for the Shen. Through grief, blood, death, and resurrection, the Star of Indrana shines in her loss and fury. Readers will root for Hail, despite her faults and missteps, because her loyalty inspires all those who follow her.
VERDICT Wager’s follow-up to There Before the Chaos is action- and emotion-packed, folding political tension, personal relationships, and trauma into a vivid space opera that does not pull any punches.

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