Dark Skies

Storm Knight I

Fiction - Science Fiction
365 Pages
Reviewed on 01/10/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Dark Skies: Storm Knight I by Zachary Watson is the first in what appears to be a science fiction series featuring a human young woman Ashe’lori. Although human, Ashe was raised in a Trachon birthing facility where she adapted to Trachon ways and language, never having contact with other humans. She was well accepted by her Trachon pack mates but when she turned fifteen Ashe was forced out of the facility and conscripted into the Imperial Forces, as required by law. With an inquisitive and inquiring nature, her dream was to ultimately join the Empire’s Intelligence Forces. Her first contacts with the Empire’s divisions were disastrous, with her seemingly unable to fit in with other members of her new packs and upsetting them with her investigations of corruption within the Empire’s ranks. A series of demerits and forced transfers meant Ashe struggled to find her place. She hoped her latest transfer to a mixed-race colony on Oshflara would finally allow her to find a home and pack mates who liked and understood her. The fact that humans were also present on Oshflara might also finally allow her to connect with her species. Despite their initial reservations, her new pack did welcome and embrace her and, for a while, all seemed to finally be working out before Ashe’s ever-inquisitive nature would get the better of her.

Dark Skies is a fun read and the type of science fiction I appreciate - light on high-tech and futuristic wizardry and heavy on character and story. Zachary Watson has created a wonderful personality in Ashe that many readers will instantly identify with. She is different from those around her and that makes for suspicion. Metaphorically, Ashe straddles two worlds, human and Trachon, with neither of them fully embracing or accepting her. Many readers will readily identify with the bullying and judgment that can accompany anyone different trying desperately to fit in. I enjoyed the relationship between Ashe and her lover, Fyth, and was intrigued by the idea of inter-species relationships and couldn’t help but wonder about the mechanics of the whole process. I particularly liked the loyalty dilemmas Ashe was frequently faced with. She sought to balance her natural inquisitiveness and her moral code against her low rank, lack of authority and power, as well as the express wishes of her pack mates who demanded and expected total loyalty and obedience. This was an easy and enjoyable book that anyone who has ever been bullied or made to feel inferior simply because they were different will enjoy. The story is well set up in the finale for the next iteration of Ashe’s journey in the Imperial Forces and I am looking forward to Book II. I can highly recommend this fascinating read.

Pikasho Deka

Dark Skies is the first book in the Storm Knight series by Zachary Watson. Growing up as the lone human amongst her pack, all Ashe wanted was to succeed as an Imperial Conscript and join the ranks of the Imperial Intelligence. When an assignment places her on the remote planet of Oshflara, Ashe has her first encounter with her kind - humans. She soon realizes that things are not as they seem, as there is an unmistakable tension brewing between the factions of humans living in Noroth and the Trahcon supremacist Kereks. With a potentially devastating civil war looming, Ashe takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of a dangerous conspiracy that will test her duty to the Empire against her loyalty to her kind. What will she choose?

A seamless blend of sci-fi, sleuth mystery, and political intrigue makes Dark Skies a riveting novel you won't want to put down. Fast-paced and action-packed, there isn't a single moment that feels dull as you find yourself devouring the pages with relish, excitedly wondering what's going to happen next. Zachary Watson captures the ramifications of racial prejudice and political turmoil perfectly through this hard-hitting narrative that will hold your attention until the end. Ashe is a compelling protagonist, and as a reader, you find yourself sympathizing with her plight as she navigates discrimination and prejudice to find the right path for herself. A gem of a book for sci-fi lovers.

Essien Asian

Ashe just wants to get through her conscription with as little drama as possible. That is not an easy task due to her annoying penchant for being in the wrong place at the wrong time which regularly gets her into trouble. Her present pack seems to be bearable compared to previous assignments, with Fyth, Ruru, and Jal keeping her occupied. Oshflara is touted as a peaceful posting but Ashe feels something seems to be a bit unusual about the humans on the planet. Can she stay out of trouble long enough to avoid another demerit or is this the beginning of a new adventure? Only time will tell in Zachary Watson's Dark Skies: Storm Knight I.

Witty conversations and mischief play a prominent part in Zachary Watson's latest science fiction offering. The way he builds up his principal character's background in a bid to create a space-oriented growth phase for Ashe would feel just as comfortable in any genre. The detail that goes into the description of the Empire is of an equally high standard as he spares no effort in explaining how the Empire came to be and describing its key players. I would urge aspiring readers to go through the glossary of terms as well as the appendix thoroughly before they start the book if they are to truly appreciate and be immersed in the incredible world that Watson brings to life with his unique style of writing. Dark Skies promises an adventure of intergalactic proportions steeped in intrigue and mystery which it duly delivers in style.