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Residuum (The Long Game, 3)
Jo Fletcher Books, 18 February 2021
Jo Fletcher Books, 18 February 2021
Available as: PB, 497pp, e
Source: Advance e-copy
I'm grateful to Jo Fletcher Books for an advance e-copy of Residuum via NetGalley.
Residuum is the third part of The Long Game, after Shattermoon and Morhelion. (Note - there are spoilers here for those previous books). SFF being what it is, I suppose that means it may be the final part of a trilogy - or perhaps not, there are some intriguing threads here and I hope there will be more books. What's undeniable is that Orry (Aurelia) Kent, the hero here, definitely deserves a break, after losing her father to space pirate Cordelia Roag, losing her ship, hooking up with morose loner Mender, and helping the Imperator out of several nasty scrapes.
And at the start that's just what she's doing, relaxing with her brother Ethan on the pleasure planet, Halcyon.
However it isn't long before Orry's in trouble again, fomenting revolution and on the run from the Arbiters. Whereas in previous books Orry and Ethan were in control (kind of), running some grift or other largely with personal gain in mind and only reluctantly getting drawn into Galactic politics, here trouble comes looking for them and the book is essentially a series of heists and escapes as they attempt to turn the tables on whoever - whatever - has them in its sights. They'll make some strange friends on the way (perhaps...) and get deeper into the mysteries hinted at in the previous books: the fate of the race known as the Departed and its sought-after tech, the militaristic Kadirans, and the secrets kept by Roag.
It's a fast and furious story, matching Orry and co's talents (we must also include Quondam, the renegade Kadiran, and Dainty Jane, the sentient ship) against increasingly deadly environments, from a planet infested by rogue, human-eating tech to a waterworld run by cephalopod warlords. That means that an aspect I loved before, something I'd tentatively describe as a sense of cosiness, is lacking. What I mean by this is the situation of the small crew on a small ship, isolated and slightly bored on their long journeys but capable, between them, of dealing with pretty much anything that comes along. The more frantic pace here diminishes that, meaning less time spent on the travels and generally interacting and less attention given to the remarkable ship, Dainty Jane. (She does, though, have some excellent scenes of her own).
However that didn't actually diminish my enjoyment of the book. In a sense Orry has grown rather, though these stories, going from having to step up in Shattermoon after the attack by Roag and her father's death to someone who can drop in confidently on Fleet Admirals and demand support. She's also developed something of a moral core, looking rather disdainfully at the Ascendancy and its Ruuz aristocrats (hence the opening scenes on Halcyon). Watching her engage with a series of challenges, leading up to a true Galaxy-menacing threat, was enthralling, making for an addictive book that simply demanded I keep turning its pages. It's all I might have wishes for as a fulfilment for The Long Game (as I said, I hope there is more to come). The writing is also, as in the previous books, smart and on-point and the characters, with whom we're now pretty familiar, engaging and fun to be with.
I'd recommend Residuum, although it really needs to be read in sequence. (But then, if you haven't read the first two books you shouldn't be down here at the end of this review).
For more information about Residuum, see the Jo Fletcher Books website here.