A Review of Star Risk Ltd.

Star Risk Ltd. (Star Risk, #1)Star Risk Ltd. by Chris Bunch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first found Chris Bunch when I stumbled across his Last Legion series, of which I’ve now read the first two and of which I’ve enjoyed immensely. So I had no qualms about picking this book up. And I’ve got to say, I pretty much enjoyed it too. Except for … the ending, which was strangely unsatisfying. Perhaps that’s to set up a sequel, since this is evidently intended to be the first in a new series, but it doesn’t sit too well with me when the mystery of the book and the action in the book isn’t at least partially explained by the end of the book. Very few writers can get away with that and still be read. David Weber comes to mind. No one else. You have to be a special writer to accomplish that. I’m not convinced Chris Bunch is that type of writer.

Whatever the case, Bunch is pretty good with action and with military sci fi. Nowhere as close as Weber, but then no one else is either, so he’s a good option. The plot revolves around a new team of mercenaries looking for work. The beautiful ex-Marine M’Chel Riss is hired from a disappointing series of infrequent jobs by another older ex-Marine, Frederich von Baldur, to form Star Risk, Ltd. They have no money and must figure out how to generate some soon. Ironically, they are soon joined by even more beautiful and smart Jasmine King, ex-intelligence officer from a large competing mercenary company. Her friend and colleague and gigantic alien, Grok, joins them as a wealthy investor (influx of capital, thank God!) and electronics expert.

Jasmine finds their first potential client, a mining company that’s been hit hard by pirates, and they devise a fairly complicated plan to get the contract over the competition by working their way into the favor of a company executive by springing the man’s brother, former special ops and cybernetically enhanced thief, Chas Goodnight, from death row. They accomplish this with minimum effort, convince Chas to join their team, take him to his brother, and win the contract. Then the action really begins! The pirates are well armed, well funded, are vicious killers, don’t seem to actually want to steal from the miners – just to kill them, and no one knows where they come from, and they come in serious numbers. Star Risk, Ltd hires men to pilot a series of small fighter space ships they get to patrol the sector they’re trying to secure and the fight is on. And it gets personal.

The ending is partially surprising, but I suppose not all that surprising. When I thought about it for a second, I did see it coming early on. I just had to think about it. There really weren’t too many other options. Bunch wrote a lot of snappy lines of dialogue for his characters, perhaps too much at times, and he tried a bit too hard to go for romance angles, but thank God, he didn’t go overboard on that, so that was good. He does in The Last Legion. I liked the book enough to look for the second one in the series and look forward to reading it. It could turn out to be a good series, although I’m not convinced it’s better than The Last Legion. Still, it’s enjoyable and pretty action packed. And it’s a quick read, which is nice. I just plodded through a John Ringo book, which I actually didn’t finish, it was so slow, dying on me halfway through. I simply lost interest with all of the hard science info dumps. I can only take so much of that. You don’t have to prove you have four degrees in physics to be a decent sci fi writer for me to like your work, dammit!

So, pretty decent book. A good start to what will hopefully be a good series. I like Bunch. He’s no Weber, but no one is and he’ll do when I need decent military sci fi. Definitely. Four stars because the ending brings it down due to an unsatisfying conclusion. Nonetheless, recommended.

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