Synopsis: A Red Peace, first in Spencer Ellsworth’s Starfire trilogy, is an action-packed space opera in a universe where the oppressed half-Jorian crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy.
Half-breed human star navigator Jaqi, working the edges of human-settled space on contract to whoever will hire her, stumbles into possession of an artifact that the leader of the Resistance wants desperately enough to send his personal guard after. An interstellar empire and the fate of the remnant of humanity hang in the balance.
Spencer Ellsworth has written a classic space opera, with space battles between giant bugs, sun-sized spiders, planets of cyborgs and a heroine with enough grit to bring down the galaxy’s newest warlord.
Corey: We’ve been on a rather steady diet of TOR.COM novellas, and they rarely disappoint!! You get these great bite-sized sci-fi/fantasy offerings, frequently from new & exciting authors!! Starfire: A Red Peace is no exception! This was an interesting & occasionally bittersweet space opera, with a gritty quality that’s almost hard to describe.
You’ve got two very distinct first-person POVs driving the narrative: Jaqi, the instantly likeable navigator who’s just kind of looking for her place in the galaxy. And Araskar, a loyal but jaded high-ranking soldier who struggles with addiction. The story bobs & weaves as these two are drawn inexorably towards one another, setting up the next two novellas in the trilogy.
I’d say Spencer Ellsworth proudly wears his influences on his sleeve, while delivering something that feels pretty original. But for sure, there’s some huge Star Wars influences here, and I almost got a little Guardians of the Galaxy feel as well. There’s plenty of humor & action, but ultimately there’s a sweetness to this one that really stood out, particularly towards the end.
Holly: TOR has been KILLING the novella market lately, for sure!
A Red Peace really was a fantastic little book! It was tense & interesting & the worldbuilding was insane for such a compact story. You said it, Corey – this certainly had obvious Star Wars undertones (& not just because it’s a space opera!) It is also blatantly weirder. Which really works for this type of story!
It’s just a strange book & I really fucking dug it! Ellsworth has written an action-packed first installment to what surely will be an exciting series! There was a surprising amount of gut-punchy feels while reading this that I quite enjoyed. I like some heart thrown in with all my death & destruction, after all!
Corey: Our friends at TOR were kind enough to send us the final two books in the trilogy, and they are both significantly longer!! I’m really excited to have even more to sink our teeth into in this series! I think A Red Peace sets the table for some truly badass space adventures, and I’m happy to be on this ride!!
Holly: An ambitious story, captivating characters, humorous dialogue, unexpectedly buzzy feelings, CRAZY INSECTOID CREATURES.. there is a lot jam-packed within this fun space opera!
Spencer Ellsworth definitely knows how to craft an immersive tale!
Looking forward to journeying to far off galaxies inhabited with fuck knows what in the sequels!
The Grimdragons Rating: 4 GIGANTIC SPACE BUGS out of 5
(Thank you to Tor.com Publishing for providing us with copies in exchange for an honest review!)