It was just about this time last year I visited with my friend, J.P. Harvey, on Skype so he could tell me about the Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper series of books by Nathan Lowell. There are six books in that series that I started reading at the beginning of the holiday break from school and was so taken by the series that I proceeded to read five of the six books during that not quite two week break. I finished reading the sixth book soon after break was done. If you are interested, you can find my reviews of the first three books by clicking HERE and the second half of the saga by clicking HERE.
The events of In Ashes Born begin just a few days short of six months after the end of Owner’s Share, the sixth book of the Solar Clipper series. At the end of that segment, we left Captain Ishmael Wang, the owner of his own small freighter, healing from a wound he sustained in an attack from an unknown assailant who also took the life of his newly found love, Greta. Previously, Ishmael, or Ish as he is often referred to, had come upon a freighter whose crew fell to a tragedy thanks to neglect. Ish and some of his fellow crewmates went aboard the ill fated and adrift derelict Chernyakova and returned it to a port. While Ish stood to gain financially for the salvage rights, he was also sickened at the condition of the ship and especially at seeing how the crew had all perished.
It is now May and Ish has sold his business and has banked enough credits that he will never have to work another day in his life. He has many options open to him but cannot seem to decide what exactly he wants to do. The only other home he has ever known, other than ships he has served on or commanded, is the officer’s academy on Port Newmar, where he has returned. As a captain and graduate of the academy, he is welcomed by his former captain and now commandant of the academy, Alys. He also runs into other friends such as Cookie who supervised him at the beginning of his career and, more importantly to this story, Philip “Pip” Carstairs, with whom Ish had learned the fine art of trading.
While Ish is looking for a new path, Pip has been planning to go into business for himself, and his plan includes Ish. Pip plans to purchase the Chernyakova, restore it to space worthiness and begin hauling freight. He wants Ish to be the captain, but the latter refuses the offer and comes back with a counteroffer to become Pip’s partner in the venture as well as captain of the ship.
Ish and Pip have many challenges facing them as the make arrangements for financing, but the challenges for Ish go even deeper as he faces what has transpired in the more recent past. Out of the ashes of the past, Ish and Pip rise like a phoenix and form their company, which brings about a whole new bunch of challenges and makes one great story.
Dr. Lowell continues to pen brilliant stories in this series of books. One does not necessarily need to be a fan of science fiction literature to find enjoyment in The Solar Clipper series of books. The “hero” of the story, Ishmael Wang, is an orphan who, partially by luck, and mostly by hard work and study, has risen to the top of his game as a captain of freighters that just happen to be delivering cargo between spaceports. All of the characters in Lowell’s stories are basically ordinary people doing ordinary jobs under extraordinary circumstances. The ships that travel from place to place are not armed, are not equipped with transporters, and the crews are not bigger than life. They are just people with particular talents and they use those talents to haul the freight and stay alive in the “Deep Dark” between star systems.
This story is clearly written as we follow Ishmael through his adventure. There isn’t a lot of technical jargon to get through, and the author only explains the technical aspects that really need to be explained. The chapters are short, each being a snapshot of a scene, and are often a small story in themselves. While I think that the story in this book could stand alone, it is even better when one is familiar with the universe created by Dr. Lowell.
One of my favorite aspects of this author’s writing is how he quickly develops characters that the reader can care about, and I am eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series which Dr. Lowell promises will be very soon.
Well, there it is…