Hello and welcome to another review in Vesna’s section of The Swordsmith blog. Today’s book of choice is The Year Before the End by Vidar Hokstad, which was kindly offered to me by the author’s agent. Since it’s always a great time for a good sci-fi adventure, I couldn’t really pass it up.
Forty years ago humanity found out we were not alone. The Centauri offered us the galaxy. With one year to go before the gate is ready, Captain Zara Ortega learns of a conspiracy between Mars separatists and the Centauri to split the solar system between them. The crew of the ship Black Rain goes on a daring raid from one of the most well-guarded stations in the system to uncover the truth, but an attack on their ship raises more questions. A meeting with their contact near Mars goes badly wrong and leads them into a chase through the asteroid belt in a desperate bid for survival. Deceit and betrayal have put not just their lives on the line, but the future of humanity.
I’m usually used to sci-fi adventures being well over 500 pages and this book being just a little over 200 pages it was quite a breath of fresh air. It turned out to be a page turner with an exciting plot that grabbed my attention and not being overly extended it fits quite well to the sometimes busy schedule.
The story is action packed and is really well written. I thought it might lack some aspects since it’s not really a long book but I was mistaken. The story is quite rich with detailing and world building and the characters are well presented. The descriptions of the battles in space and locations were the best part of the novel. They were so detailed it made them very realistic and the same goes to locations, I could picture every single view from the spaceship. I also loved the dynamic between the characters in the Black Rain crew and their different views on events, which also, with different reactions, turned out to be pretty realistic. It showed their differences quite well despite having a common goal.
As I mentioned, the book is very detailed with information. For some purposes it is great and on some occasions it went a bit over the line. As much as I love the “science” in science fiction, some technical descriptions were a bit over-explained and at moments it felt like reading some sort of manual. But once getting through that point the book just flows to the end. What I was also missing is getting to know the characters a bit more, and some back story might be useful but the info might be held back on purpose since this is the first book in a series.
The conclusion: it’s a great short sci-fi page turner. If you need a break from long adventures this is absolutely a great choice. It serves everything you need: science, space battles, politics and much more. As since this is the first book in the series, which is supposed to be a 6 books series, I really look forward to future releases.
*The cover photo of the book was taken from Galaxy Bound, where you can also find more info about the book and the series.*