Pros: Fantastic, intense action scenes
Cons: I feel like I’m missing something
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Since my third class of the term (physics) hasn’t started yet, I decided I could afford to take a few hours to read the new installment in Joshua James’s saga: Lucky Forever: Lucky’s Marines | Book Four. I’m glad I did! This episode of Lucky’s adventures is somewhat more standalone than the others (less arc-plot advancement), but you’ll still want to read the rest of the series first to have the necessary background. Lucky has been promoted and put in charge of a team of marines–the LAST thing he wants! April, the new Emperor, has a special job for Lucky, one that requires him and his marines to go follow some members of the Cardinal Order–with whom they have a temporary truce due to the threat of external alien invasion–into a mysterious nebula. As usual, Lucky hasn’t been given all the details. All he knows is that something very important to the Empire and the burgeoning Coalition is in there, and he needs to retrieve it. Preferably without starting a war. Because of this, the Empire loads him and his people up into something totally un-threatening–a rustbucket of a ship with no weapons. But of course everything goes to hell the moment they get close to the Reds.
James keeps up his remarkable ability to flood the pages with action. His marines have implanted nanobots that can repair cellular damage, even regrowing missing parts, allowing him to put his characters through a remarkable amount of abuse. That rebuilding takes time, though, so injury still affects the fights and becomes a new challenge for the marines to fight around. It really lets him amp up the danger, often sticking his characters into situations that it seems they couldn’t possibly survive. Don’t worry though–he doesn’t rely solely on his characters’ indestructibility. While it’s true that Lucky is well known for having all of his plans go wrong right out of the gate, there’s plenty of cleverness and wild shenanigans keeping things interesting.
As always the characters are fun. Malby is still being… well, Malby. Jiang is gone, but not forgotten. I did feel like I was missing something–maybe there’s a short story in-between books three and four?–because suddenly there was a romantic history between Jiang and Lucky that I didn’t remember from before. Maybe I forgot a brief mention or something. The Hate doesn’t pop up as much in this installment, and Lucky’s definitely not doing so well with the promotion. While the alien Da’hune do show up, they aren’t the main antagonist this time. Instead there’s a new kind of alien who might be the key to defeating the Da’hune–if they can be convinced not to take out humanity, too. They have their own abilities and issues, and both the Empire and the Reds want to court them.
I definitely enjoyed this installment in Lucky’s saga. I really enjoy good military SF, particularly when there’s plenty of action involved, and Joshua James delivers.