The Blood-Dimmed Tide

Michael R Johnston. Flame Tree, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-78758-311-5
The energetic second space opera in Johnston’s Remembrance War series (after the Widening Gyre) offers big, bombastic set pieces but little character growth. It’s been a year since Tajen Hunt led the humans to reclaim Earth from the alien Zhen Empire, and continued skirmishes between the species have whittled down the remaining human forces. Following a surprise attack on Tajen’s wedding day, he and his husband, Liam Kincaid, turn to the Kelvaki aliens for aid in the ongoing conflict. Curious differences between the various alien races, futuristic tech that’s flashy without being overbearing, and the complexities of interstellar politics all entertain while rounding out the worldbuilding as Johnston pushes his characters toward an inevitable interspecies war. The Zhen retake Earth and declare martial law, leading to exciting battle scenes, though the plot soon gives way to the predictable beats of a military thriller. Despite Johnston’s crisp prose and attention to detail, Tajen’s too-perfect characterization as the quintessential cocky hero grates. Lightly sketched secondary characters mainly serve to prop up Tajen’s ego. Still, the winning action sequences save this one from its flaws. (Feb)
Reviewed on : 11/25/2019
Release date: 02/01/2020
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-78758-313-9
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