I'm...not really sure where to start. The amazing journey I have been taken on has made my head spin. The fact that Aragmar was able to keep with all plot lines and character interactions and blend them together needs to be acknowledged.
A planet needs saving and I have to commend the way the stakes are explained and raised. Aragmar seamlessly shows us not only the tactical but also the personal significance of the upcoming fight. Proving that you can have a story that is grand in scale yet down to earth, next to the characters, so it doesn't lose its focus on what is important and what drives the plot forward.
That being, of course, the characters themselves. I have mentioned before that Aragmar takes full advantage of the fact that the Starshatter series is a grandiose space opera. He takes his time, so he can shine the spotlight on each character. Some that have been in the "background", so to speak, step up so we can explore the more personal aspects of their lives and learn more about them. That doesn't mean that the rest of the crew are left behind. From little moments here and there - a battle or a conversation - we can keep up with each and every one of our heroes. This "exchanging of hats" is brilliant as we can see different perspectives and most importantly - main or secondary - we've had a chance to spend time(a lot or a little - it doesn't really matter) with everyone, so we know what makes them tick. This way, the transitions are not jarring, we don't need an introductory paragraph, we already know everyone. What also helps is that Aragmar puts a couple of characters(that should be there) in the general vicinity of each other so the action flows smoothly from one perspective to another. Simple and yet really effective.
Speaking of the characters - there are all present. I mean all of them. Even some that you would not expect. As I have mentioned, they all get their time to shine. But not just by doing something heroic or smart. My favourite chapter is the crew simply talking and helping. No fate of the galaxy on the line (yet) just the heroes being their helpful selves, proving that Aragmar is aware that the small moments, the little things are what completes a character. Honestly, this is part of the review where I struggled the most and I have rewritten this part a 1000 times. In the end I decided that I do not want to spoil anything about the characters' journeys in this book but if you have enjoyed my reviews so far trust me - everyone's arc is spot on and your favourite will get their moment.
I want to turn your attention to only two characters - Anit'za and Omasa. I honestly cannot say that I have experienced anything like these two, they are their typical larger-than-life yet grounded-and-brilliant-selves(yeah, say that three times fast). But what I realized in this book is that they are not only a protagonist and an antagonist but also the background of the story itself. I don't know what took me so long to understand it. Everything that is happening is because of them. They are the engines that drive this journey. It's not some mystical artifact or a fancy gun that makes it all possible, it's their brilliant minds. And the fact that they are the two sides of the same coin. A cliché phrase yes, but it is absolutely true. They are so similar, yet what makes them different is their upbringing. Nothing more. If Omasa was born a dzenta'rii there wouldn't even be a Starshatter series. It is frustrating that two geniuses that can make so much happen, move mountains and decide the fate of thousands, cannot agree on the one thing they are both fighting for - peace. The cilmination of their conflict fills me with sadness, because I believe that by the end, the galaxy will lose a brilliant man.
Believe it or not, the combat scenes have gotten even better. There is a certain "flow" to the combat that wasn't there in the earlier books. Not to say that they were bad, but there is a polish here that was missing before. I noticed it when Brynjar was engaged in combat and the whole scene emerged in my mind, uninterrupted from beginning to end. The different theaters of war each have their own flavor. The ground and space combats can really be distinguished from each other if you pay attention. Another satisfying aspect is that there is no magic trump card pulled out of the sleeve. If you read carefully all the clues and facts are there in front of you. If you think that this character or that squadron have come out of nowhere then you haven't been paying attention, it is all there, Aragmar has nothing to hide.
Aragmar just keeps getting better and better. I actually dread the day this series is finished. The books already have a special place on my shelf, you know the one. You read them when you are happy, you read them when you are sad and when you close them you smile to yourself and are ready to take on the world. So with a hand on my heart I silently bow to you Aragmar. For waving the banner of hope, when the night is darkest so we can move forward.
Below are the links to Aragmar's amazing Starshatter books series and his Patreon, where you can support him as well as links to my other blogs.
Anit'Za art by Lillyput