Parr never meant for any of this to happen; all he wanted to do was pilot the Aurora and avoid responsibility for a while.
Now, in the wake of his parents’ mysterious death, it’s time to un-fake his death and take up the mantle meant for him since birth.
Unfortunately, it won’t be easy.
A pirate king and the galaxy’s most dangerous bounty hunter stand in between him and the gates of his home: Bilena Epso Ach.
Parr will need help from two unlikely friends: Manc Yelray—a boisterous old pirate with money on his mind and an appetite for strange similes; and Ren, an information merchant with a mysterious past almost as long and winding as a kronnilin’s tail . . . hold on—who wrote this?
Anyway, Parr will need all the help he can get to make it back alive.
But do they have what it takes? And what will they eat along the way? Because there’s only one rule in space: never eat the hot snack.
Anything but the hot snack.
With its ragtag crew of unlikely allies poised to double-cross each other, this space opera wastes no time in leaping right into the action, pitting its prince-in-hiding against a galaxy of potential enemies. Corley (Ghost Bully) brilliantly constructs a universe populated by rogues, miscreants, and plausibly weird aliens. However, the constant barrage of unfamiliar names, terms, and slang may overwhelm a reader expected to decipher them through context. More familiar are the thrill-seeking Parr’s fondness for his ship, Aurora, and his contentious relationship with Manc, which may remind readers of a certain scruffy nerf-herder.
Corley’s protagonists rarely have time to catch their breath, plunging from one mess to the next, yet they still manage to grow as individuals, although Parr’s continuing obliviousness concerning his sister’s potentially sinister plans is a little hard to swallow. A trace of humor runs through the story, edged with self-awareness. As Parr and his allies fight for their lives, he’s forced to consider the privileges of his upbringing, though this theme doesn’t get as much examination as it deserves. This character-driven starfaring adventure hits the spot, while leaving a few loose threads for future installments.
Takeaway: This fast-paced interstellar romp will satisfy readers looking for action, double-crosses, and a touch of wacky hijinks.
Great for fans of Becky Chambers’s The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Mike Brooks’s Dark Run, R.E. Stearns’s Barbary Station, James Lovegrove’s Firefly series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
In Corley’s SF novel, an alien prince is finally ready to assume his throne after abandoning his responsibility years before.
Prince Parrtec was once the heir to the intergalactic kingdom known as the Twelve but decided to fake his death and walk away from everything he knew in exchange for a wandering life of fun and freedom. Now he goes by the name Parr, living on his beloved ship, the Aurora, which is reputed to be one of the fastest ships in existence. He mingles with all sorts of people, including pirates and other criminals in “the outer reaches.” But now he feels that it’s time to go back and take his rightful place after his parents’ deaths—if he can get through the well-defended gates of his home system of Bilena Epso Ach. A business opportunity goes awry that could have helped him do so, and he finds himself banned for life from entering the gates. Parr needs a new plan, but he has no more funds, and with the galaxy’s most feared bounty hunter hot on his trail for reasons unknown, Parr will need all the help he can get—even if it means siding with Manc, an old pirate with shady motives, and Ren, a secretive and alluring figure. Will Parr ever make it back home—and if he does, will the new queen, his sister, welcome him back? Politics and romance intertwine in this fun space adventure that follows Parr around the galaxy as he ostensibly tries to make his way back to his throne. However, readers will find that Parr’s journey turns out to be one of personal transformation and self-discovery. Over the course of the novel, he loses his initial obliviousness and gains a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be the heir of a privileged family—who may, in fact, be tyrants. Corley, the author of Ghost Bully (2018), also effectively develops the story to show how Parr learns to trust people other than himself during his travels. Sadly, the protagonist’s tale ends too soon, but it offers an open ending that promises more adventures.
Breezy, space-based fun with well-executed character development.