The second of the Spoils of War series by Conor H. Carton is an action-packed science fiction novel narrated by its reluctant hero, Shakbout Mansard. “Action-packed” is no understatement neither, with the plot going from incident to incident as Shakbout along with Lincoln and a host of others uncover heinous plots which threaten the lives of individuals and which form part of the Thousand Years’ War alluded to in the series’ title.
There are many positives to this book. Carton has a very engaging writing style and I found this book very easy to read. The dialogue sparkles especially between Shakbout and Lincoln and there are threads of humour throughout the narrative which attempt to lighten what is quite a dark book in places. Shakbout’s narratorial voice is dry and self-deprecating and he is just my sort of hero, one who is unaware of how influential he is and the power he has and so, is humble with it. He is also a family man, protective and duty bound.
I was struck by how highly imaginative the book is. Some encounters that Shakbout finds himself involved in, with beings various, are not only well described but made me marvel at the depths of Carton’s creative vision, all of it described in such a way as to make it credible within the confines of the fictional world of Thiegler. This, I have to applaud. The book throbs with the makings of his mind. Add to that the political layers that are gradually unpeeled during the course of the book to reveal the machinations of those who would eradicate others and you have a read which romps along at a right royal pace. Science fiction maybe but also reflective of the world in which we find ourselves living.
However, I did find it a little repetitive in the way that it developed: something is revealed through information sifting; this leads to the highlighting of another layer of organised subversive behaviour; a raid of some sort is executed to uncover what is there; and so on. This was tackled to some degree with the introduction of new characters and new leads but I did find myself craving something a little different, despite the fact that the narrative is fluid.
I have not read the first book of the series but, in light of this experience, there is a high likelihood that I will.
This review was first published on Reedsy Discovery where I was privileged to read it as an ARC.