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THE CRUEL STARS by John Birmingham

They thought the Sturm were dead. They were wrong.

Centuries after their defeat, the enemy has returned with an overwhelming attack on the fringes of human space. On the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial onslaught: Commander Lucinda Hardy, commander of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship; Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason; Alessia, a young royal forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed; Sephina L’trel, the leader of an outlaw band.

And, finally, retired Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all – or die trying.

These five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.

Title : The Cruel Stars
Author : John Birmingham
Series : The Cruel Stars #1
Format : Physical
Page Count : 496
Genre : Sci-Fi
Publisher : Head of Zeus
Release Date : August 19, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 

Micky’s 3 star review

Deep saga
Lots of seperate characters & stories
Concentration needed

If sci-fi war and strategy is your kind of thing, then The Cruel Stars may be the story and series starter that you’re looking for. This book reels you in initially but be aware that those characters you just enjoyed reading about switch up pretty quickly and lead you to the style of this book.

For the first half of the book it felt like there were a bunch of short stories, in the same universe, experiencing a similar attack from the Sturm. Over time, these stories did connect but you have to wait for that payoff.

The universe was interesting, with an almost unseen enemy who had different values about modifying and reviving the body and consciousness. There was a lot of unpick and it was pretty complex. I did find it hard going sometimes and I’ve come away with some questions still about what I understand about some elements of the grand plot.

I did a combination of traditional read and audio and the narration was engaging and the different voices kept me orientated to the different stories in tandem. I will definitely continue with the series but I need to do it soon while the plot is still fresh in my mind.

Thank you Head of Zeus for the review copy.