I’ve been reading the bestselling Phoenix Conspiracy series from Richard Sanders for quite a while – The Phoenix Crisis being the third book in the series following the crew of the stealth ship IWS Nighthawk and its captain Calvin Cross investigating a galactic conspiracy that threatens to being war and ruin to the Empire. The previous two books (The Phoenix Conspiracy and The Phoenix Rising) have been enjoyable so far, and I approached the third in the series with quite a sense of excitement to see what happens next.
In The Phoenix Crisis the title is no illusion – there’s a full-blown crisis at hand and time is quickly running out to solve the mystery. Choices have to be made and the ramifications of them are not immediately seen, and may prove pivotal.
Characterisation in this book is generally well-rounded – each character has a distinct personality and chemistry with other characters, even if the traits displayed are a little trite in their “incompatibility”. It was nice to see the protagonist, Calvin, have his character tested a little in terms of drug addiction recovery but I felt it a bit disappointingly predictable to see him become infatuated with the almost-inevitably “perfect” royal princess.
The universe continues to be fleshed out – galactic politics come to part quite a lot in The Phoenix Crisis, with the conspirators and their plot becoming a lot more tangible, although their greater goals remain shrouded in mystery. Some of the political scenes left a few questions – surely the “king” of the empire, by definition, cannot be deposed by a flimsy majority? Why is the Empire’s political system as unstable as it’s presented to be, with the unrest in one border planet seemingly able to topple the government in a heartbeat? Why do all these galactic “empires” even resort to monarchy for governance? Overall though, the stakes were really built up in some of the political scenes, adding tension and a sensation of dread when the machine worked against its creators.
Overall, I enjoyed The Phoenix Crisis and look forward to the next instalment in the series, though I’m hoping the proofreading is a little better, as in this one it was a tad disappointing – a few too many orphaned subordinate clauses and clunky sentences leave me unable to award a five-star rating that I’d have otherwise awarded this engaging and altogether enjoyable bit of space opera.
That said, all credit to Richard for doing an extremely good job – this is a high bar for self-pubbed books to meet.
Rating: 4 *