Review: “Admiral,” Sean Danker

Pros: Fantastic characters; entertaining and engrossing!
Cons: I’d like to know a little more about what happened pre-story
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Admiral (An Evagardian Novel), by Sean Danker, gives us thrills and chills with a nice dollop of humor. The point of view character (told in 1st person) is the titular “Admiral,” as identified by the labeling on his stasis pod when he awakens to a severely damaged ship. He and three young, just-graduated military members have to figure out what happened, where they are, and how to survive on what they have. Deilani is suspicious of the Admiral right away, even though he insists that it’s an honorary title. Still, Salmagard and Nils fall fairly naturally into obeying the Admiral, leading to a certain amount of suspicion and confusion all the way around. Unfortunately, the ship somehow ended up way off course and crashed into a largely unknown planet, so our heroes don’t know what they’re up against, don’t know whether they can count on rescue, and don’t know what sort of native life forms they’re likely to run up against.

 

Firstly, since I’m in Maryland I have to say, with regards to the giant crab-like aliens, that the characters doubtless would have fared much better against them had they brought along some Old Bay. Now that I have that out of the way…

I love the characters in Sean Danker’s Admiral. Deilani is terribly suspicious of the Admiral, and not without reason. He makes no claims to authenticity–he simply uses his ‘honorary’ rank to keep the team working together and constantly pushing towards things that might help them make it one more day, one more hour, as things give out around them. Deilani is, thankfully, both confident and competent, so she has depth beyond calling the Admiral out. The Admiral is certain Salmagard has figured out his identity, so it’s a good thing she seems content to keep quiet and follow his lead. As for Nils, the techie of the group, he’s all “yes, sir” until Deilani’s suspicions get hold of him. After all, it looks as though the ship they crashed in was sabotaged, as was the Admiral’s stasis pod. Also, none of them expected to find themselves on this ship.

The four struggle to survive on the ship, which gets a little tense at times. It’s a nice way to build things up slowly in the beginning as we get to know our characters. Finally they can turn their attention toward figuring out how to leave. The ship they’re in has had a huge hull breach–they won’t be taking it anywhere. But it appears that there are colonist ships out there as well–this provides a whole additional level to their battle for survival. After all, there’s no way they can go outside without protective gear and oxygen, both of which won’t last forever. The pacing gradually builds as the danger does, as always leavened by a dose of humor from the Admiral. By the time we meet the aliens, the tension is cranked to maximum.

Pacing, characters–it’s all fantastic. I would have liked a bit more about what happened previous to the first page, and perhaps a few more hints as to the Admiral’s identity before the end, but those are very small complaints. All in all I very much enjoyed reading “Admiral”!

 

Book provided free by publisher for review
Expected publication date: May 3, 2016

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