A&A Reviews: Elaninae

Elaninae (The Combined Service Book 2)(Theogony Books)

Jo Boone

Set in the same universe as The Magnetar, which debuted last year — our review hereElaninae is coming out on April 8, 2022. Her first book in the series is already one of my comfort reads, along with Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh, and other SF greats. I put my predictive powers on the line when, in the review, I suggested Jo Boone would be an eventual Grand Master. What a debut! And book two in the series is just fantastic. It’s all about a plague that hits a colony of one of the nonhuman species.

The Combined Service universe has four sentient races: humans, octopods, avians, and gu’ul.  This is a “first novel,” which means you can enter the series at this point. But for those familiar with the characters in The Magnetar, you will recognize young human spacer Charlie Cooke and her human friend Bosun’s Mate Wiley from the crew, as well as her best gu’ul  girlfriend Breccia. I was really surprised at the pivotal role Jawaharlal — the teenaged ship-spotter back on Sol Gateway — played in this book.  Of course Captain Chalk is back, and so are the multi-species sub-captains…all aboard a starship that was damaged and is undergoing repairs. They are picking up a new fast-attack shuttle built by the avians on one of their worlds and things go sideways—very, very fast.

Fast-paced and showing character growth that has surprising depth and resonance, this is not a “tech-the-tech” science-fiction novel. All of the science is thought through; all of the characters are real people you want to spend time with. After everything that happened in the previous book I thought the author would be hard pressed to up the stakes, but it’s amazing how effortlessly Boone does it.

But then, the mark of a true expert is that they make it look easy. You won’t forget this series or this author.


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