A review of Friends in High Places (Far Seek Chronicles #1) by Andi Marguette

Read July 2013

Online summary: “Outlaw Torri Rendego and her crew pilot the Far Seek to the mining colony of Newburg on Old Earth to smuggle out rare black opals, in fulfillment of their latest contract. So far everything goes as planned until Torri learns that Kai Tinsdale, her Academy bunk mate and now a Captain for the hated Coalition, is there to break up the dangerous but profitable smuggling rings. Will Torri and Kai survive another test of their fragile bond as they battle nefarious forces to complete their conflicting missions.”

My review: If I didn’t care for Friends in High Places quite as much as the other works of Marquette’s I’ve read — at least early on — that’s in no way a put-down. It’s still really enjoyable and certainly well worth reading.

Both main characters are extremely likeable, and I especially appreciated the contrast between them. Torri’s sort of a female Han Solo, something of a “scoundrel,” for those of you who remember The Empire Strikes Back, though she’s a helluva a lot smarter than he is; Kai’s a loyal, by-the-book officer in the Coalition armed forces, though she’s beginning to wonder if her loyalty may be misplaced. T and K were roommates at the Academy, and Kai has absolutely no doubts where that loyalty is concerned. Secondary characters, though their appearances are brief, are more well-drawn than in a lot of books, too, adding depth.

The writing is a bit less smooth, less crisp than in Marquette’s other works, at least at the very beginning. Once you’re drawn in to the story, though, it’s not a problem at all. (Note: this in absolutely no way is meant to imply that the writing is “bad”; from what I’ve read, I’m not sure Ms. Marquette’s even capable of writing badly.) And while the plot’s not exactly revolutionary, it’s still interesting, and keeps you turning pages, which is the whole point, right? Anyway, the tropes of science fiction and space opera are by now so prevalent, there’s nothing wrong with an author employing any one –or ten — of them in her work; in fact, it’s damned near unavoidable. I was particularly impressed by how Marquette incorporates back-story in the action and in the dialogue, avoiding the large “info-dump” trap so many authors fall into, especially in the SF and UF genres.

A caveat — or maybe kudos: Yeah, there’s sex. Not tons, but more than a little. It’s well-written, and, frankly, it’s pretty erotic. If that’s not your thing — well, you should still read the book, damn it!

All in all, a very satisfying reading experience: Competent writing and editing, though something tells me Marquette’s prose doesn’t really require a lot in the way of redaction; engaging characters; consistent, well-paced plotting; plenty of suspense.  Very definitely recommended. I generally like to put several months between reading books that are part of a series, but I can assure you I’ll be reading more of the Far Seek Chronicles at some point.

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