cover image Blood of Gods

Blood of Gods

Simon A.G. Spencer. Brain Lag, $18.99 trade paper (392p) ISBN 978-1-998795-15-4

Spencer’s jam-packed sequel to 2022’s Shadows of Slavery successfully juggles multiple plotlines. Marissa Rhapsody, a former celebrity athlete and “sort of demigod,” has become even more famous after her heroism helped prevent a war between her world, known as the Kinship, which supposedly stands for fairness and equality, and the Aquila Alliance. Instead of fighting each other, the two powers have now joined forces to battle the Bythos Empire. But when the Kinship’s prime minister seeks to honor Rhapsody at a public ceremony, a would-be assassin almost kills the politician. Spencer keeps readers one step ahead of his protagonist; the opening section reveals that Rhapsody was the intended target of the sniper, who blames Rhapsody for the death of their brother and who doubts the Kinship’s sincerity about its ideals. That plotline overlaps with the Bythos Empire’s plans to conquer another world, which its leaders consider to be inhabited only by “a primitive race sorely in need of enlightenment.” The pace is quick, but Spencer is stronger on action than characterization. Readers should not expect Alistair Reynolds levels of sophistication, but space opera fans with a taste for intergalactic warfare would do well to check this out. (Feb.)