My father-in-law is a long-time sci-fi fan, so when he recommended Joel Shepherd’s Spiral Wars series, I listened.
I’m so glad I did! At this point, I’m part-way through book 3 out of 5, and I am loving it. Shepherd is an excellent writer, and this is exactly the kind of sci-fi that really does it for me: it’s technical, but not too technical, the emphasis is on action, but big ideas are involved, and perhaps most importantly, the characters are 3-D and compelling. The series definitely has the same kind of feel as that of The Expanse, which is high praise considering how much I’ve enjoyed those books as well.
The books follow the human warship Phoenix, which at the beginning of book 1 has just finished up its role in a century-long war against an alien species. The Phoenix crew return home to be feted, only to find themselves pulled into a political conflict, which quickly grows in scope and complexity, eventually threatening the human race itself. Like the Expanse, the books are a combination of “hard sci-fi,” along with a healthy mix of adventure and mystery.
Part of the appeal of the books is the portrayal of non-human races, as Shepherd is able to create some fascinating and real-seeming alien races for his characters to interact with. I’m very much looking forward to seeing how things unfold in the latter half of the series (there are 5 books total). I’ll update this post once I finish them all, but for now, I’m comfortable in declaring The Spiral Wars… mandatory reading.
Rating: 4 – Mandatory Reading