Author: Jaine Fenn
Genre: Scifi/space opera
Publisher: Tower of Chaos Press
Available: Amazon $1.99 (Kindle) 42 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Lachin is a dreamer. He's just too curious for his own good. When he gets the chance to be part of an expedition which will allow him to escape the confines of his village, of course he takes it; he wants to see the world. But the world is not what he thought it was...
The Ships of Aleph is a fantastical adventure set on a world like no other, which fits into Jaine Fenn's popular Hidden Empire universe.
What I liked:
I'm always eager for another Jaine Fenn story, so I picked this up as soon as it released. I love the depth and scope of her writing, how I'm immersed not just in another world but another culture. This had an almost daydream like quality, which reflected the central character's state of mind for much of the story perfectly. I'm also a fan of stories set at sea, and that have a fantasy setting. It's told in first person - not my favourite POV, but written well it works. In some respects it reminded me of a Sir Terry Pratchett story where the incompetent wizard Rincewind sails to the edge of the world. But what Lachin finds there is nothing he expected, and neither did I! This is a story that will make you think about what else might be out there. I should also mention that the main character is crippled, and uses his intelligence to compensate for his physical disability.
What I didn't like:
The story didn't feel complete to me, not just because of being part of set universe - as stated in the blurb, this is part of the Hidden Empire universe, most of which I've read so I know most of the surrounding story - but even then I felt the ending to be abrupt and that it left me hanging.
This story reads like a fantasy at the beginning, switching to a very scifi feel toward the end, and the jump might jar with some readers (not me, because I was expecting and hoping for the scifi part, and having read Guardians of Paradise - which also has a similar fantasy opening leading to a science fiction ending). For those who like to question the meaning of existence, this might be a good book, but to most readers I would suggest reading the rest of Fenn's Hidden Empire books to really follow the latter part of the story. As a stand alone, it might leave some readers confused. I would recommend this to fans of Fenn who have, or plan to read, the Hidden Empire books, but perhaps not as a first taster of her work.
(You can read my reviews of the other Hidden Empire books at Fantasy Book Reviews HERE).