Once upon a time, I don’t remember how or why, my attention got turned toward Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax, and since the series was completed, I glommed that whole thing in one weekend. It was delightful and I was addicted. By the time I found Sirantha Jax, Perdition was already out and I thought about starting in on that too, until I heard it was going to be a trilogy. So I have patiently waited until the whole thing was written because I hate waiting and I am already waiting for too many series in my life. Now that Breakout is finally within reach, I am so exited to start this series.
WELCOME TO HELL
The prison ship Perdition, a floating city where the Conglomerate’s most dangerous criminals are confined for life, orbits endlessly around a barren asteroid.
Life inside is even more bleak. Hailed as the Dread Queen, inmate Dresdemona “Dred” Devos controls one of Perdition’s six territories, bordered on both sides by would-be kings eager to challenge her claim. Keeping them at bay requires constant vigilance, as well as a steady influx of new recruits to replace the fallen. Survival is a constant battle, and death is the only escape.
Of the newest convicts, only one is worth Dred’s attention. The mercenary Jael, with his deadly gaze and attitude, may be the most dangerous criminal onboard. His combat skill could give her the edge she needs, if he doesn’t betray her first. Unfortunately, that’s what he does best. Winning Jael’s allegiance will be a challenge, but failure could be worse than death…
Yeah, it sounded cool alright. And since Jael was such an integral character in Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series, I really had to go back and re-read that series too, which is also an excellent science fiction series, and refreshed not just my perceptions of Jael, but also gave me a comparison point for these two very different heroines. Unfortunately for you dear reader, this means I will be making comparisons to the other series. Also, between these two series by Aguirre, and the fact that the same editor worked with Ilona Andrews, I am making Anne Sowards my editor to
stalk, watch. If anyone can suggest the best way to do that I’d be deeply appreciative, because I have not found a way to sort books by their editor.
Dred is a different sort of Queen. In this prison ship only the strong and the clever survive, and there is no denying that Dred is both. She is the sort of woman who inspires both loyalty and fear. And the political aspects of this closed system on a derelict prison ship are just fascinating, it puts me in mind of the third Aliens movie, just on a larger scale, and with no evil aliens. And Jael is just as delightfully amoral and emotionally stunted as I thought he would be, in fact he is more those features than i had thought and the reasons behind it just made good sense, made me understand and like him even better than I did before.
And that is the really surprising thing here; Aguirre’s skill at creating amoral or even “bad” characters that you fall in love with and root for. I mean, in the Sirantha Jax series, Sirantha and March were such monoliths, the fate of the galaxies and individual worlds rested on them, and frankly despite a few negative traits and actions, the were almost Mary Sues, even bad actions and outcomes had the best of intentions. Don’t get me wrong, I like them and the stories and how sweeping and epic they were. And now I am sitting here hanging my head, because this is starting to sound like damning with faint praise, but seriously, read the Sirantha Jax series, and read it knowing it suffers from first book syndrome and you will need to get past that. Because it is excellent and the finish was all the things that if you like science fiction then I think you will like it.
But, I think the Dred Chronicles are better. There I said it. I think this series is better. I like Dred and Jael better as our main characters, and I think Perdition is a better first book in the series. This is a first book that says “What first book syndrome?” and then kicks it in the crotch. These are not good people. They are convicts, the worst of the worst who the governments say can not be rehabilitated. Their intentions aren’t always good, because this is about survival. But I liked most of the characters. I rooted for them, and when one of these murderous scumbags died, I sobbed like a little baby. Seriously, maybe this says something about me, but I honestly just think this is a skill Aguirre has. It is really easy to make you root for the good guys, but it takes much more to make people root for the bad guys, and Aguirre managed it with aplomb.
Plus, the story itself was just fascinating. The politics and the different sectors, relationships between others besides just the main characters, and the grim realization that there is no way out and you’re desperately fighting for something that means nothing but laying back and dying is worse. The story and or relationship with the heroine and hero are just somehow more intimate, yeah, that is the best word for it, intimate. And the gift here is we want to be intimate with these mass murders.
I am running out of superlatives here, so I will just leave this with the statement that if you have any interest in science fiction at all, this is a series that you should read.