I picked up the first book that Peter Grant had written after meeting him at LibertyCon two years ago. It hardly seems that it has only been two years… in that time, I have been reading his books and watching him grow as an author, to my delight as a reader. It’s also been a pleasure to come to call him a friend. The first Steve Maxwell book was an enjoyable read, harking back to the Golden Age of science fiction, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly – especially for the teen in your life you would like to introduce to space opera. But then I read the first of the Laredo series, and I saw that here was a better book. It’s a paradox. I enjoyed all the books, but they kept getting better? Could this keep happening?
Yes, it can. Forge a New Blade, the second book in the Laredo series, is a solid space opera with well-thought out plot, great characters, and enough action to keep you reading. The author has spent a lot of time thinking about the economies of a war in space, that is evident, but he’s inserted just enough to make this book feel thoughtful without making it dense and unreadable. The murthering great space battle at the end (I don’t think this is a spoiler… it seems inevitable from the beginning, but I’m not telling you who won!) is reminiscent of Weber’s finely detailed missile-by-missile accounts of space battle without falling down the rabbit hole of too much, which make my eyes cross and I start skimming.
As my review followers know, I am in it for the people. Here, Grant excels. His portrayals of the two sides of the war are superb. You get motivations, allies, and enemies in a complex web of intrigue that ensnares people you like and are rooting for… on both sides of the equation. Rather than falling into the trap of ‘good vs evil’ he has given us sympathetic characters on the side of the enemy that we can feel conflicted about not liking… and he has given us traitors that we don’t hurry to hate. It would be easy to simply write the Bactrians all off as mustache-twirling villains, but Grant doesn’t allow that. He knows that people are not that black-and-white, and that comes through in his writing.
This isn’t a light, fluffy read. It’s a deep exploration of human nature, and I’m looking forward to what comes next from his keyboard.