A Leap Of Fate: The Raulden Gambit by Gary Fortenot 4*
BLURB: A Leap of Fate is a story that will take you from the far-flung planets of Caron and Rauld, to Earth and back again, intertwining the inhabitants of the vastly different worlds in miraculous fashion. The characters of these three planets meet only by the hand of fate, but then must join forces in deadly battle against an omnipresent foe of horrific evil…the Kreete. Half of the lead character is Kaskle Dangarth from the planet Caron. His home is a world in the developmental era when swords and bows ruled the armament and travel was by wagon, ship, animal, or foot. This planet has been overrun by a powerful alien culture known as the Kreete, which rules with brutal, merciless supremacy and demands payments from Kaskle’s civilization in the form of slavery and pleasure, gladiator type conflicts and total submission. Kaskle is a rogue mercenary once in the service of the evil planet lords but has since escaped and pledged to scour the surface of his world clean from the plight of those beings. The other half of the lead character is from Earth. Ron Allison is a run-of-the-mill guy with a normal job, a newlywed wife, and all the regular plans and worries that go with that. He is accidentally plucked from his ordinary life and whisked across the galaxy by a society of pacifist technological geniuses who find themselves in direct threat from the evil empire of ruthless beings…the Kreete Triad. Their plan for survival forces an impossibly chance combination of the body of Kaskle with that of Ron. Ron maintains his mental individuality after the fusion with Kaskle, due to the untimely death of the fierce warrior, and must quickly come to grips with what has happened to him in order to survive. He must surmount his doubts and fears, and use his newly acquired gifts to their limits so he might return to his own planet and the peaceful existence he once had. Ron teams up with the heroine of the story, Cache Kuar, one of the techno-wizards from the planet Rauld. She is also a formidable individual in her own right and is the person who caused both Kaskle and Ron to be recruited into the intergalactic struggle for planetary dominance. Initially she is out to protect her home planet from impending doom, but fervently intends to help liberate any others that might need her assistance. As proof of her commitment she offers them her people’s incredible advancements, as well as protection in the form of a superior fighter spacecraft which she has developed. It is the only known weapon that might stand up to those of the Kreete. All she needs is a worthy pilot! Cache helps Ron learn about his new abilities, trains him in the use of those gifts, and schools him in the history of Rauld and the villainous Kreete. Together they embark on a perilous mission that is fraught with tension and suspense as they fight both the enemy that threatens to destroy them and their own attraction to each other. The final battle high above the planet of Rauld is a blow-by-blow, pulse pounding blast…and the ending will make your jaw drop.
My Review A well written story, that had a taste of an old-fashioned Science Fiction superhero tale about it, a la Edgar Rice Burroughs or H Beam Piper. I enjoyed the fact that it was full of action and had well thought out science but was a little upset at the ending when Ron returns to Earth (won't say more as you need to read it yourselves).
The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos 4*
BLURB:Two weeks ago, thirteen-year-old Mason Stark and seventeen of his fellow cadets from the Academy for Earth Space Command boarded the SS Egypt. The trip was supposed to be a short routine voyage to log their required spacetime for summer quarter. But routine goes out the airlock when they're attacked by the Tremist, an alien race who have been at war with humanity for the last sixty years. With the captain and the crew dead, injured, or taken prisoner, Mason and the cadets are all that's left to warn the ESC. And soon they find out exactly why the Tremist chose this ship to attack: the Egypt is carrying a weapon that could change the war forever. Now Mason will have to lead the cadets in a daring assault to take back the ship, rescue the survivors, and recover the weapon. Before there isn't a war left to fight.
My Review: I had the ARC of this from Net Galley. I just wish they had written books like this when I was a Teen as it was perfect reading for a YA (or a teen at heart like me!)The pace was racy and action packed, with so many twists to the story I was on a constant roller-coaster whilst reading it. I certainly couldn't put it down as it was so intense with well written characters and a plot that had me on the edge of my seat.