I reviewed the first book in this series, Trang, not too long ago. It was the author’s first novel, and I found it to be enjoyable. Now, Sisson’s sophomore effort is available. It’s more enjoyable than the first, which is as it should be. Authors, especially those early in their careers should be learning and improving with each new work.
There are some mild spoilers for Trang in what follows. No way to avoid them, really, if I want to talk about this novel, since picks up shortly after the previous one ended.
During the huge battle at the end of Trang, the Cyclopes narrowly missed being destroyed by the super powered alien known as the Magic Man as punishment of their attempted invasion of the Host home planet. If not for the intervention of Phillipe Trang, they would have been wiped out. Now Trang learns that no good deed goes unpunished.
When the book opens, the Cyclopes still on the station are starving. No one on their home planet has sent any food. That’s because no one is running the government. They’re all too afraid of offending the Magic Man after he killed most of the previous government, so no one wants to step up and take responsibility for anything. When Trang tries to find a solution to the problem, the Magic Man appoints him as interim head of the government. Which is a rather awkward position for a diplomat from Earth to find himself in.
Oh, did I mention that advancement in the Cyclopes government is by assassination?
The cast of characters is still there, with some new ones added, both human and alien. This is where Sisson’s greatest strength lies, creating believable characters. They’re interesting, unique, and while you wouldn’t want to bring some of them home to dinner, they are always up to something. This includes the humans and the aliens.
The focus on the aliens in this novel is the Cyclopes. I’m not too sure how stable a government based on assassination would be, but it’s fun to read about. And yes, there are assassinations and assassination attempts. The most intriguing parts of the book are when we get to see things from the point of view of the Cyclopes. There are two more volumes planned in this series, and I hope we get a closer look at some of the other alien societies.
Which is not to say that all of the focus is on the Cyclopes. There’s an ongoing game of laser tag involving several of the alien species on the station which will have major repercussions. Along with that, there are some shenanigans going on in Earth politics as well involving Union Intelligence taking a more than healthy interest in Trang..
I found this second novel to jump into the action more quickly than the first one, to be more complex, and to flow more smoothly than its predecessor. If Sisson continues to improve, and there’s no reason to think she won’t, this will definitely be a series to keep up with. I just wish the next volume would be ready before the release date of 2014.
If you’ve not read Trang, it’s currently available for free through Smashwords through July 1. There’s a coupon code on the author’s website, along with links to all editions of both books.