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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Light Fighters by Palmer Pickering is a speculative dystopian science fiction space opera and the second book in the Star Children Saga, preceded by the award-winning first book in the series, Moon Deeds. The series revolves around multiple point of view characters but the central plot follows twins Cassidy and Torr after Earth was aggressively colonized and its residents subjugated under a hostile technocrat autocracy. Earth's moon remains free and upon escape to the moon, Star Children Cassidy and Torr rest their hopes for survival on finding the ancestral, mythical Star People; a needle in a haystack against the massive macrocosm of space and its vast array of worlds and civilizations. Pickering surprises with a very welcome Star People point of view prologue before transitioning back to those desperate to find them. Over the course of the following three distinct and interconnected parts, the twins fight against separation, violent capture and an incredibly daring escape even with their Shaman capabilities hamstrung; a man named Ridge with abilities of his own is a hired hand to the grotesque leader Balthazar and is forced to check his ambivalence when push comes to shove; and the continued search for the Star People.
Palmer Pickering left readers of Moon Deeds with an entire universe of untied strings in a cliff-hanger ending. It was well written, thorough and wildly entertaining, but in hindsight I'd have preferred to start the series now that Light Fighters is out. I only bring this up so that Star Children Saga fans—and I count myself among them—can rejoice in the knowledge that the sequel concludes without those major hang-ups. For those who are considering the series, this is an excellent time to jump on the bandwagon. I can vouch that there will be exactly zero disappointment as you blaze through books one and two. Pickering is a master of character development and world-building, wielding her pen with skill enough to make even the most vile characters [we're looking at you, Balty] come across as authentic. Every character has their flaws, and the greyest of them are in Ridge. He's got a tiny conscience but the rest of him is self-serving to a degree that Han Solo would appreciate, so witnessing his evolution is the best part of the book for me. As for the many cultures and civilizations Pickering produces, keep your notepad handy because this book may require notetaking in the beginning. I was particularly fascinated by the Murians and the Tegs, but the levels of ingenuity of all races we meet is phenomenal. This is, as was its predecessor, a book worth the time commitment. As Ridge says, “Slow and steady wins the race.” Very highly recommended.