Let me begin by telling you what In Ashes Born is not. It is not high adventure in space. It is not filled with battles, semi-clad heroes and heroines and it is not a mile-a-minute adventure. It is also not a predictive, this is the future of humanity, sort of book. If any of those are things you demand in your space-born science fiction you should probably take a pass on this book.
Instead, it is a transitional book. It brings Mr. Lowell’s original Solar Clipper Share series into a brand new Solar Clipper Seekers series.
It is the story that needed to be told to bring closure to one chapter of Ishmael Wang’s life and a new beginning in another. It is a necessary book and one I thoroughly enjoyed.
By its very nature, it cannot be the best in the series. At times morose and melancholy, the book is about Ishmael’s search for a future. He needs closure from the previous chapter of his life but he also needs purpose. Many previously introduced (and favorite) characters show up in this story. Some will have a central role in future books while others will continue as supporting cast. It was good to see them all again, like an old friend showing up at your door.
I have heard people complain that nothing happens in this book and that is, at least, partially true. Physically anyway. On an internal level, Ishmael faces many of his demons and comes, if not to terms with his past, at least to a path into the future. Since the books have often had a cerebral tone that way, I think this fits the series perfectly.
I struggled a little when coming up with a rating for the book. On the one hand, I found the writing superb as always. The characters were exceedingly well crafted. The places also felt very real. The promised future is also one I am eager to see more of. This is a series I can’t wait to read.
On the other hand, we do spend a lot of time in Ishmael’s head. Very little happens over the course of the story except the healing of psyche and the realization that a future is possible. While Ishmael’s story is rarely one of high adventure, this is slower than usual. Again, as I have already said, it is a necessary story. One that rarely is told and that usually lives in the author’s mind as back-story.
When I take all the factors into consideration, as much as I would like to rate it as a 4-star book, I cannot. At the same time, it is definitely not a 3-star book. So, I will use a 10-scale instead and simply state, I cannot wait for the next book in the series. Thank you for bring Ishmael back, Nathan.