Book Review: Freedom at Feronia

Lisa and her team of asteroid police have captured a nuclear rocket, and rescued a dozen kidnapped children. They aim to return the children to Mars, but first they need to build a ship. The rebel colony of Feronia is on the way, taken over by Christian fundamentalists. Can they return it to civilization, and what kind of government will lead to a long-term peace? This is hard science-fiction, with no laser swords or time-warps, where space travel is difficult and takes many months, and the people who live in space must use engineering innovation to build what they need from local materials.

For the modern reader, the retro feel of this story may make it feel sluggish.  For those familiar with the founders of the Science Fiction genre, this may feel like a trip down memory lane from a new author.

This is the second book in the series, and it picks up almost directly after the final word of Dark Colony.  As such, there is a little set up needed to get the overall story moving, and Richard handles the transition wonderfully.  This installment almost can be divided into three main sections, each one needing its own world building and transition to bring it into play.  The first is from the starting point into the ship, the second from the ship to the central conflict, and the last is from the conflict into resolution.  Each of these transition points is handled smoothly, with enough hints of what is coming to make them virtually unnoticeable as the scenery descriptions fade from one environment to the next.

There is a steady paced plot without a bunch of ups and downs or twists and turns.  The interest is not so much in getting from the opening scenes to the end, it’s how the solution is reached.  This is part of what gives the story its retro feel.  Even though there are elements of today’s technology presented in new ways, the lack of any surprises takes a little away from the overall excitement.

The original cast of characters has very little in the way of character growth, being upstaged by a couple of the new cast members, though all of them are named in the opening chapters, a couple fade away and vanish quickly.  A presence to help fill spaces, but you don’t get to read about them much.  The new cast seems to make great strides in development, but for anyone who watches current crime shows, you will find a familiar group type in the cast.  It’s handled just as well as the rest, but because it is familiar, many will expect more.

The world building is good.  For once I was a little let down on this.  Usually, most of the works I read do this very well.  The first and last asteroid settings were well done.  I did not have to refer to the provided maps to “see” the environment.  The bulk of the story, however, is on the ship.  This is where the world building is the weakest.  There is one key are that is well built through description.  The other key areas I’m not sure if they did not have enough description or if the descriptions provided were disjointed.  In either event, I could not visualize them or put them in relation to one another.  As the space aboard the ship isn’t that much, I was a little surprised about this.

Overall, this one is a solid 4 out of 5 stars from me.  The fact that it is a second book in the series gives it a tiny edge.


5 thoughts on “Book Review: Freedom at Feronia

    1. I actually got a response from the author about that comment. After we went back and forth a few times, I think he’s going to update the book with either an illustration, or a link to the glossary illustration of the ship. Mostly, for me it was trying to figure out where the different quarters were. I’m too used to ships laid out like Star Trek’s Enterprise, or like in Weber’s Honorverse. The ones designed to accommodate freefall always get me confused.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It is. One of the reasons I love reading indie books. If I spot a problem (rare, but it can happen occasionally), there is a way to let the author know, and fix. And the indie authors seem to always be wanting/willing to learn how to improve.

          Liked by 1 person

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