Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Avalon by Mindee Arnett

"The universe was a terrible, fucked-up place, but he didn't make it that way. He just had to live with it..."

Avalon is ultimately a story about freedom. The main character, Jeth, wants to be able to fly away from Hammer, the mob boss who owns him, his ship, and his crew. He wants to take Avalon and escape to some far off galaxy and be free. His parents were executed as traitors, leaving Jeth and his sister Lizzie in the care of their uncle. Uncle Milton promptly gambled and lost Avalon, which is also their home, to Hammer.

Hammer is the big boss, owner of a great big space station and casino. He runs a gang of soldiers, most of whom are mindless slaves thanks to an implant in their brains. One of his organizations is the Malleus Shades, Jeth's crew. They are a bunch of teenagers who pull heists to steal ships and metadrives. The metadrive is the technology that allows them to travel light years through space. This technology is highly in demand, so the Shades are busy. Jeth is working for Hammer in hopes of buying his ship back. His profits all go towards Avalon, but he still has years left before he'll be free.

At the beginning of the book, the Shades are running a heist. Everything is going according to plan when they get an unexpected visit from an ITA agent (Like space FBI). He wants them to venture into the Belgraves, the space wasteland where weird stuff happens, in order to retrieve a wrecked ship, the Donerail. In return, Jeth will regain full ownership of Avalon.

Jeth is obviously suspicious of the man, as the ITA killed his parents. He refuses the deal. Soon after, Hammer offers them the same job. After some negotiation, Hammer is willing to give them half the money beforehand...and he will sign the Avalon over to Jeth. The only condition is that they are not supposed to set foot on the abandoned ship.

That seems easy enough. The Donerail has been stranded for two months. There's no way that anyone could have survived. When they reach the ship, however, there are signs of life. Once on board, they notice how it is covered in mysterious holes, some through walls or equipment, even through the crew. They meet the survivors, a teenaged girl and boy, and a younger girl. Jeth takes the trio back on the Avalon. Once there, the mysterious holes start appearing in Avalon's walls and equipment. Soon enough, they are stranded in the Belgraves. They have two choices: call Hammer for help, or call the ITA. The only question is which is the better risk.

I really loved Avalon. A lot of it had to do with how much I loved Jeth. He was such a nice guy, always sacrificing himself to protect his crew. There were times when he brought tears to my eyes, when he was broken down and believed that he would never regain Avalon, would be stuck with Hammer, and worst of all would become one of those brainless soldier. So, I may as well say that Jeth is the best and almost single-handedly made this book great. I'm really looking forward to further adventures from the Malleus Shades, which should be interesting given the plot twists and spoiler action at the end of the book, which I cannot talk about here. I'll just say that it should be interesting and leave it at that.

I received my copy of Avalon from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer & Bray. It's available for purchase now.

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed the book, particularly the protagonist, Jeth Seagrave. He's complicated, rough around the edges, sometimes cute and sometimes silly, and completely endearing.