Review: “Lucky at Last,” Joshua James

Pros: My favorite book of the series-so-far!
Rating: 5 out of 5

Joshua James’s short novel Lucky At Last: Lucky’s Marines | Book Nine is the climax of the story arc. Emperor April appears to have gone off the deep end–she wants Lucky killed, and she plans to use her Da’hune-human hybrids to take over the known universe. She still seems to think she’s doing this for the benefit of the Empire… or is her AI, Dragon, putting thoughts in her head? Could the Hate be influencing her behavior? Lucky’s been on ice in cryosleep for a year, and he and Malby, Jiang, Hector, and Dabs had better get up to speed, and fast. The moment they wake up they’re targeted for death, and it’s only with the help of some untrustworthy mercenaries that they stand a chance of catching up to April. Hector’s having trouble giving up on April, but she seems ready to kill even her father in order to achieve her goals.

Lucky’s back with more hyper-violent action! Thanks to nanobots and regen packs the Empire Marines can survive almost anything, leaving room to get messed up in all sorts of ways. For once Lucky and his crew don’t start out with all of their usual armor, so they’re a bit more fragile than usual, upping the stakes just a little.

Tiny niggle, but bear with me: there’s a moment when the author notes that two parts of a body fall at different speeds because the weight is distributed unequally between them. Uh, that’s not how gravity works. Unless air drag is an issue, items of different weights fall at the same speed. The only reason this caused me any heartburn is because there are intricate fights in these books that totally depend on the vicissitudes of gravity (or the lack thereof) for some of their excitement, so having the author mess up a basic detail of gravity kind of screws with the willing suspension of disbelief. Most readers probably won’t care, though, so make up your own mind!

The mercenaries bring something new and interesting to the table. One has some very unusual hacking skills. One’s a cyborg with some unusual abilities and a bizarrely “so what?” attitude. Another only cares about money, money, money, but he’s a hell of a shot and seems to share a few traits with Malby. I’ve enjoyed the gradual accretion of interesting characters over the course of the series, and these guys definitely add something.

I won’t say anything about how the story ends, except to say that I’m quite pleased with it! I look forward to more books by Joshua James!

Lucky liked to kill things, but he liked to pretend that ethics were somewhere in the mix.

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