ARC Review: Navigators of Draconis

Navigators of Draconis is the debut novel by self-published author Jake Ashwell. The book is a noir-ish space opera set in the constellation of Draconis. Here there are multiple worlds populated by humans and two humanoid species called nephans and cymans. It’s not clear how humanity came to Draconis, or how exactly humans, nephans and cymans are related, but there are hints of ancient enmities, and very real modern (to the story) strains and power struggles between the worlds and the species.

On the world of Viridia, home to a controlling government, we find our hero Grace Myrasatra. In the social credits system of the Viridians, Grace is clearly in the lower classes, and she’s had to struggle all her life for everything she’s got. She lives in a backwater, and one evening she finds herself being followed by a creepy guy into the transport tunnels. 
When the man suddenly confronts her she pushes him away, and he stumbles through a glass panel and plunges to his death, falling from one tunnel level to another. When she rushes to his body she discovers he is wearing a badge. With her low social credits she knows she’s already as good as sentenced for murder.

She runs from the scene and turns to her boyfriend (a high social rank college student) for help, but before he can do anything she is arrested and imprisoned aboard an orbiting prison ship.

The story follows Grace as she becomes a part of a prison break, organized by the spacefaring pirate comrades of a nephan woman held in captivity with Grace. Grace is accepted onto the pirate ship. She knows her only chance for a good life lies in earning enough money to buy a forged identity and thus find her way back to Viridia and her boyfriend. To do this she must earn her keep as part of the pirate crew.

This is a fun, if a bit formulaic, sci-fi adventure and morality tale that makes for a great summer read. Ashwell has done a good job creating believable characters, and building a world for them to inhabit. He’s created snippets of Draconian poetry, literature, dictionary entries, military manuals, etc, to introduce each chapter. These were very well done and drew me in, making me want to learn more about Draconian space.

The story itself is well paced and exciting, and, of course, leaves us with our hero and her pirate compatriots having wrapped up this book’s adventures, but duped into the middle of a brewing war that perfectly sets us up for Book 2.

I would like to thank the author, Jake Ashwell, for providing me with an ARC copy of the book to read and review. Available in paperback and ebook, Navigators of Draconis came out last month and is available on Amazon. 

RATING: Three and a half Stars ⭐⭐⭐🌠 

📘 Buy this book: Amazon