Before we get stuck in, let me say I was given an advanced copy to read in exchange for a review. You can find the book here. Additionally, for what it’s worth, I grew up on a healthy diet of fantasy literature and Star Wars.
The Terran Gambit, by Endi Webb, is the first book in The Pax Humana Saga, a Space Opera series detailing the struggle of the Resistance against the Corsican Empire, also known as New Rome. The first book centers around Jacob Mercer, a fighter pilot in the Resistance, and his involvement in Resistance efforts to free Earth from the tyranny of New Rome and their Pax Humana.
At first blush, I would say the author was heavily influenced by a number of things:
The remake of Battlestar: Galactica
Grand Admiral Thrawn
His Phd in physics
If you like space battles, The Terran Gambit has plenty. It begins with one and it ends with one. They move along at a good clip and range in content from dogfights to battles between capitol ships to hand to hand combat in the bowels of some mammoth floating gun platform. The description of the space battles was the first of several instances that made me think of the remake of Battlestar Galactica. In addition to having space battles generally described in a manner lending itself to the cinematic, the dog fights involve ships that have maneuverability comparable to what I recall seeing in BSG.
The elucidation of the way advanced technology works keep it firmly rooted in Space Opera. That is to say, there is no attempt at long, boring, and internally-consistent explanation to get in the way of dat space battlin’. That said, the characters do receive lessons on how the tech works. The reader, however, is not subjected to the details, rather just that there is some sort of constant or formula to figure out this or that, enough for verisimilitude. There is ftl travel as well, I think. I was not exactly clear on how it worked, except that it required time for the engine to warm up and there was a limit to the jump distance, which also reminded me of BSG.
Webb’s characters are familiar, but not tired. Two that stood out to me were Anya Grace and Megan Po. Anya is like a NSFW version of Starbuck from BSG. She is rash, insubordinate, generally what you would expect of someone whose job is to fly really fast and blow things up. She also looks like she will be part of a romantic subplot. I would have found either of these characters underwhelming on their own, but together, they work for me. Megan Po assumes a motherly role towards her comrades in the Resistance. She joined the Resistance for revenge, and the idea of a mom flying really fast and blowing things up is awesome.
In a world where people have taken to buying books in the same way they buy sugar, as cheaply as possible by the pound, Endi Webb has written a text that gets in, blows shit up, and gets the hell out, as it should be. The Terran Gambit is bursting with space battles, a rebellion against an empire, and a villain that people will love to hate, and it does it all in a space that won’t leave you wondering when the damn ship will explode already. If you like Space Opera and you don’t like wasting your time, Mr. Webb has written a book for you.