Review: Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach

Sunday, January 12, 2014
Title: Fortune's Pawn
Author: Rachel Bach
Genre: science fiction
Series: Paradox #1
Pages: 320 (paperback)
Published: November 5 2013
Source: purchased
Rating: 5/5

Devi Morris isn't your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It's a combination that's going to get her killed one day - but not just yet. 

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn't misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she's found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn't give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

If Sigouney Weaver in Alien met Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica, you'd get Deviana Morris -- a hot new mercenary earning her stripes to join an elite fighting force. Until one alien bite throws her whole future into jeopardy.

Things Jessie loves to read about in her adult science fiction novels:

  • fresh takes on space travel and dangers
  • kickass women who can be both feminine and dangerous
  • creepy aliens -- both friendly and hostile
  • engaging battle scenes
  • well-crafted romance with another three-dimensional character

Guess what Fortune's Pawn contains? If you said all of the above, you're 100% right. 

It's like Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax and Elizabeth Moon' Parksenarrion had a kid that grew up to the ass-kickingest, most hardcore character ever. Her name is Deviana. She is Serious Business. Devi is amazing. I love her. I want to be her. She wears dresses. She likes men. She's smart and ambitious and a little bit arrogant and talented enough to back that anger and attitude up. I enjoyed Fortume's Pawn for a number of reasons -- the strong, clear writing, and the engaging plot among others -- but I really loved it because of Devi.

When not planning my incipient run for President of the Devi Appreciation Society, I was impressed with the size and scope of Bach's story. For a series opener, there is a lot of worldbuilding and detail present in the first Paradox novel. I wouldn't go so far as to say I understand all the politics and maneuvering going on, but Bach does a good job of passing vital information subtly to her readers. The nuances are there and careful readers will find a lot to depth to the worldbuilding. The alien races shown in the novel are imaginative and new -- I've never read anything along the lines of the aeons, xith'cal, or the lelgis. The xith'cal reminded me most of the cannibalistic Reavers in Firefly, though these reavers are not of human origin. The worlds that Devi lives in are full of many dangers, from predator to pure science.

This is possibly the most Jessiest of all Jessie books. Choosing it as the first read of the year was the best way to start 2014. I don't have a lot to say, but if space exploration or sci fi or military sci fi is your thing, this book would fit neatly within all those areas. It's short enough to read in a day, exciting enough to be impossible to put down, fun enough to make the wait for the second novel seem cruel, and good enough for a best of 2014 label right out of the gate.

Read this book.


  1. I just picked up a copy of this and cannot tell you how excited I am that you enjoyed it! I'm really looking forward to it, so hopefully I'll be reading it next, right after I finish Red Rising. Great review, Jessie - I can't wait to meet Devi!


    I'm so glad you loved this too.

  3. So I've read other reviews on this as it has been a popular book of late, but for some reason none of the reviews got to me quite the way yours did. LOOK AT YOU. GIVING ME HOPE.


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