I had been looking forward to this book, had pre-ordered it as soon as I could, and then on the day it downloaded to my Kindle I was too busy to be able to read it. I did manage to find time over Thanksgiving Break to take it in, and was rewarded for my time.
Duty from Ashes is a space opera, military-themed, and a sequel. However, it was easy to pick back up and find the threads of the old story arc as well as the new threads. Yes, there are multiple plot threads, but this isn’t a book with Byzantine complexity, you will be able to follow the threads and keep all the characters straight, Schall has done an excellent job of creating and fleshing out unique characters.
I really enjoyed all the effort in this book, and I’m not referring to the author now. The main character, Ashlyn Shaw, is struggling with trust, not only her own of the people who are trying to prove that she really does belong in charge of her new regiment, but the trust of those people in their new commander. She’s not a superhero, and it takes a lot of effort to gain that trust, something I as a reader appreciated. Sometimes it’s fun to see a hero get all befuddled, and then work it through.
One of the subplots in this book rang really true to me, the dealings with the prisoner’s of war. I’ve done a lot of reading about POW camps in WWII, in particular the ones administered by the Japanese, and that feeling of hopeless defiance has been captured nicely by Schall. It makes for a heart-wrenching scene, and I won’t spoiler the whole thing for you.
I think if anything, this book is stronger than the first book; oh, and it ends nicely. You can see the story arc coming for the sequel that Schall tells you is there, but you aren’t figuratively left hanging by your fingernails at cliff’s edge wondering what the hell happens next. Well done.
If I have to compare it to another writer, it would be Weber, but the early Weber, where Honor Harrington is still uncertain, groping her way along, supported by her staff and family. Also, those books were slimmer, and offered more action, more momentum, just as Duty from Ashes does. I stopped reading the Harrington series a while back, when it slipped off into the weeds of massive political info-dumps and ever slower and more convoluted plots. I’m very pleased that this series takes me back to the space opera I most enjoy, character, action, and fun!