Having been suggested to check out Jonathon Fletcher’s work after having read his interview with my friend Sam Richards, I gladly discovered the first book in his Josiah Trenchard series was on promotion and grabbed it, and dove right in.
Immediately I felt I was going to enjoy this book, and it was an altogether fun read. Starting with a thrilling action-packed ‘prequel’ sequence that introduces the protagonist, rough-and-ready space marine Josiah Trenchard in a battle on war-torn Mars, the seeds of intrigue are sown with the conclusion of that battle which, as we re-join Commander Trenchard sometime after, has had a profound effect and has repercussions that this book only alludes to. It’s a nice bit of world-building that sets up the sequels in the series but, once done, doesn’t obstruct this book’s standalone narrative.
As narrative goes, this book is an unashamed helping of fun space-opera. There’s an appearance from a good number of space opera tropes and staples, which are tied together with a refreshing prose style and believable, down-to-earth characters. The author holds no pretences, and as such does not make any attempt to dress up the writing – it’s plain and a breeze to read. Action sequences have that timeless cinematic evocation in my imagination and kept me hanging on. With the characters, there’s a playful, almost boyish humour that pervades the crew of the Might of Fortitude that I found endearing. It’s refreshing to see that even in a futuristic setting, characters speak like their Twenty-first century contemporaries. The dialog isn’t forced or filtered to ‘sound’ complicated which in a sci-fi book like this is really quite nice; indeed, the Space Navy contingent really do swear like f***ing sailors! There is also an appreciated nod to the tendency in space opera for America to be Everywhere, it’s great to see so many regional parts of the UK represented in the Space Navy!
Stylistically, the author’s voice is loud and clear in his writing and it’s nicely done! Certainly, there’s a few formatting choices I, as a writer, would probably not have made but they are minor in the face of a solid bit of prose that gets to it! As is the case with space-opera, suspension of disbelief helps a lot; fortunately there’s a lot in terms of character and charm to draw the mind away from potential science niggles.
Overall, this was a really fun read! I really enjoy straightforward space-operas like this and I can say with definite conviction that Josiah Trenchard is another series I’ll be definitely keeping up with! With some engaging humour and story coupled with funny and believable characters, it rightfully earns each of the 5 stars!