Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 507
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Series: NOVA VITA PROTOCOL, Book 1
Rating: 3/5 Stars – Liked It
Note: I was provided a free review copy by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest thoughts.
Meet Scorpia Kaiser, pilot of the smuggling ship FORTUNA. Crewed by her siblings and captained by their no-nonsense mother, FORTUNA is one of the few ships that travels between the five habited planets in this corner of the galaxy, providing them a steady income. Scorpia’s been dreaming of the day Momma retires and hands the family business over to her, but after she screws up a deal on Gaia, suddenly her future isn’t quite as assured. Making matters worse, eldest sibling Corvus has messaged he’s finally leaving the civil war he’s been fighting in on Titan for the last few years, and it’s clear that Momma would much rather put him in charge than Scorpia. Momma’s arranged for one last big job before she retires, a secret contract from the president of Gaia herself. But when the nature of the job threatens to plunge the galaxy into war, Scorpia and Corvus will have to find a way to work together to protect their family and stop what they unintentionally started.
FORTUNA has the hallmarks of some of my favorite sci-fi space tropes. A galaxy of planets, strange tech from an extinct alien race, a ship crew living in the cracks of society, trying to make ends meet while not caring what bickering the other planets are up to. It’s a cozy world to settle into, and I loved some of the backstory that explained that each planet was colonized by a different generation ship that left Earth. Each ship developed their own cultures over time, so when they finally landed, five different societies sprang up, each unfortunately distrustful of the other. I enjoyed traveling about the galaxy and seeing how Gaia differs from Titan, and especially loved some of the action sequences on Titan, complete with soldiers fighting in mech suits. In short, the world-building was everything I look for in a space opera.
Unfortunately, I had a harder time falling in love with the characters. FORTUNA is crewed by a family that doesn’t always contain the brightest bulbs in the bunch (a pair of twins who are a bit trigger happy come to mind). The fact that they do love each other and will take on an entire galaxy to protect each other, did help me overcome some of my annoyances. The narrative itself alternates between Scorpia and Corvus, two siblings on opposite sides of the galaxy until the story brings them together halfway through the tale. While I was intrigued by their separate storylines, I found Scorpia’s harder to read because I was frustrated with her as a character. Scorpia is an entitled alcoholic, the kind of person who thinks she knows best and frequently ditches her family to pursue half-baked plans that you know are going to end in disaster. I love reading flawed characters, but I need something to keep me rooting for them, whether it be competency or charisma, and I just couldn’t find my way into connecting with the character.
Thankfully, the actual plot is a fun ride. Even clocking in at 500 pages, it moves incredibly quickly, and I found myself reading large chunks at a time. There’s pirate boardings, mech fights, conspiracies and betrayals and a dash of intergalactic politics. Although the first in a trilogy, FORTUNA is a self-contained story, with a few hooks left dangling for the next book. If you’re looking for a sci-fi romp across the galaxy and can overlook some questionable choices made by one of the lead characters, FORTUNA is a pleasant diversion!