When I read the publisher’s description for Admiral, Book #1 in the Evagardian sci-fi series by Sean Danker, I was intrigued by the concept. As you can tell from this week’s reviews, I was in the mood for some classic outer-space military sci-fi reading so I snapped it up. I am so glad I did because it made for one hell of a read.
Admiral is sci-fi with a militaristic aspect, but it also has a horror edge to it…think shades of The Martian, Alien, The Stainless Steel Rat, and other classic suspense-filled outer-space mystery/thrillers, and you’re coming close. Given that my fingernails had already taken a beating, um gnawing, when I read Outriders, it’s a wonder they weren’t chewed back to my knuckles by the time I finished Admiral – seriously! If you like fast-paced, action-packed, heart-stopping reading then have I got a book for you!
He woke up, much to his surprise, in a sleep pod aboard a ship that appears to be dead in space. The rest of the crew is already awake. And, oddly enough, according to the label on the pod, he’s the commander of this defunct ship and an admiral for the Evagardian Empire. WTH happened? The crew of three fresh grads from Imperial Service Training is as surprised as he is that he’s their commander. Something is seriously off here.
“There were voices.
‘An admiral? Is this a joke?’ one of the voices said. ‘It’s the seal. Look at this. I think someone’s done something to it.’
‘Is he alive?’
‘This isn’t even our ship.’
‘He’s breathing. I have him.’
I was distracted from the pain wracking my body by a pair of soft lips on mine, and a rush of welcome, secondhand oxygen. The kindness didn’t last. A powerful fist smashed into my sternum…I felt like a dead man. I’d had bad wake-ups before, but nothing like this.”
“’What’s your name?’ I asked her.
‘Lieutenant Deilani report[ing] as ordered, Admiral,’
‘Admiral?’ I blinked, taken aback. Making a point of looking bland, she panned her light past me. Indeed, my sleeper had all the right markings. There was an Imperial Admiral’s crest, plain as day. ‘I’ll be damned,’ I said, gazing at it. ‘I’ve been promoted. Drinks for everyone. Especially me.’”
If he’d known how off things were going to be he’d probably have sealed himself back up inside of that pod and kissed his butt goodbye. He has no clue how to be a military officer. He has on civilian clothes instead of a uniform, and he has no concept of protocol or procedures, or how to manage an experienced military team much less a team of raw recruits. Who the hell is he? Even he isn’t sure. Despite all of that, the ship confirms that he is indeed the admiral and commanding officer – and his team is willing to take that at face value, sort of – something that makes no sense to him at all. Still, they’re now his responsibility whether he wants that responsibility or not. Great – just great.
And where’s the rest of the crew for a ship this size? What happened to them?
“I listened. There was no sound.
I’d never experienced a completely silent ship before. The only systems running were auxiliaries with their own power supplies, like sleeper readouts. This lack of sound wasn’t peaceful or calming. It was terrifying. Something was catastrophically wrong. When your ship is on emergency power, you’re in trouble. When your ship hasn’t got any power at all, if you’re not dead, you will be soon.”
“…my guess about all of this – that we’d simply broken down. What I didn’t understand was where [Captain] Tremma was hiding. He should’ve turned up minutes after the sleepers spat out the trainees, power or no power. There was no positive reading for this situation.”
First things first, however, means assessing their situation and getting the ship’s systems stabilized. If the ship and its life support systems aren’t stabilized, it won’t matter who the admiral really is or where the rest of the crew is because they’ll all be dead very shortly.
“’What is it, sir?’ Nils asked. ‘What is this ship?’
‘Ganrean cargo freighter,’ I told him, still staring into the gloom. ‘Privateer class, maybe? I don’t know.’
‘How did we get on it?’ Deilani demanded.
‘I could guess,’ I said. ‘But I don’t think you’d like it.’”
In taking stock of their situation, they learn their damaged ship is stranded on some kind of hostile planet, but no one in the tiny crew knows what planet or what happened that led to them be there…so damage assessment is definitely in order. That’s especially important since ship systems which were still working when they awoke are now beginning to fail, one at a time. If they can’t fix whatever is causing these system failures soon, the rest will all be academic.
That all sounds like a good plan, right? Damage control first followed by situation assessment followed by “we’ll figure that out when we get to that point.” Well, there’s just one minor detail that none of them had counted on – they are not alone in the ship. And whatever is in there with them has no intention of letting them succeed in their plan. Well crap – Now what?
I’m not telling because that would definitely fall into the spoiler category. What I will say is that sabotage is involved and at least one of the crew members thinks the new admiral may be the saboteur. I’ll also say that we learn what’s going on as the crew and admiral learn – and that it all happens at breathtaking speed…one life-threatening event after another. If you’re like me, you will have to remind yourself to stop holding your breath – or you’ll pass out.
I’m purposely not telling you anything about the characters in this novel because doing that would also lead to too many spoilers. You need to let them unfold for you as the story and this universe unfolds. I will say that I liked the admiral and his small crew a lot, and how their relationships developed as the story unfolded in this non-stop alien roller-coaster ride.
That Sean Danker is an avid Isaac Asimov fan is really apparent in his writing style – he’s done Asimov proud with Admiral! The only drawback? It was so good that I wanted to start reading Book #2 immediately even though Book #1 did not end in a cliff-hanger. Now I’m sitting here tapping my toes with the mantra “Hurry up and write Book #2” running through my head. If you like action-packed, unpredictable outer-space sci-fi, I’m betting you’re going to enjoy this one as much as I did…and then we can mumble the mantra together.
Can’t wait to read it? Admiral is available in most formats from your favorite online bookseller. Just click the link below and you can have it to read immediately!
I’d love to get your comments about Admiral, Sean Danker, and/or this review.