There’s a quiet intensity to Powell’s storytelling. Maybe it’s the AI voice of the ship Trouble Dog or the somewhat resigned airs from the ship’s captain Sal Konstanz that provide a steady thread even through space combat. That’s not to say the story isn’t exciting; it absolutely is.
EMBERS OF WAR is the beginning of a trilogy and it does what any first in a series should do: it gets us ready. It’s the bubbling just before coming to the surface. The story is told with multiple points of view, but it wasn’t choppy or hard to follow. Each character’s voice is different and the wants and needs are specific to him or her or it.
Sadly, I was surprised at how many women take center-stage–not disappointed, just surprised. That shouldn’t be such a shock by now. Ultimately, it was a happy surprise and I found the female roles compelling. There was never a question as to their abilities, nor did any of them have to provide a justification for her station.
Mostly, I was intrigued by the character, Trouble Dog. She’s a complicated ship. She’s made choices, has a past, and is being judged by those who knew her from her time before. It’s hard to not think of her as human, but that’s part of the mystery and uniqueness of Powell’s construct. Without giving too much away, I was holding my breath for the last few chapters wondering how the story would progress.