Sci-Fi Novels Science Fiction Reviews

‘Shadow Captain’ & The Epic Worldbuilding of Alastair Reynolds

Space opera is a favorite sub-genre of mine. It always has been and always will be. I love the drama of it all, the race to outrun the enemy with the lives of an entire crew on the line. The characters are often deep and conflicted, trying to advance their own interests while keeping the greater good of the ship in mind. It’s a genre I was first introduced to through the work of Alastair Reynolds.

Shadow Captain takes us back to the universe of Adrana and Fura Ness. It has all the epicness of a typical space opera and fans of Revenger will enjoy the continuation of the sisters who took the worlds by storm. Battles abound, chases ensue, and the sisters become more experienced as they spend more time in space. 

It’s easy to forget these two are mere teenagers and not grizzled, old sailors on their space pirate ship. They essentially shoved themselves head-first off the cliff that is captaining a spaceship. We get a change in narrator as well, following Adrana alongside her sister. Her more reserved personality shines through and we see Fura for some of her absurdities. The crew dynamics continue to shine through as they strengthen their bonds through successes and hardships alike.

The most impressive part of this series is the universe Reynolds has created. It’s infinitely unique, featuring thousands of strange relics that defy all reason, filled with treasures and mayhem and unexpected enemies. They provide much of the suspense between both novels, setting a timer that ends with starvation and death if they don’t leave the force fields in time. 

A fascinating form of communication lies within strange alien skulls that give trained professionals the ability to communicate across space. It’s hard to understand and even more difficult to envision. This lost alien race deserves its own set of novels. Their technology borders on fantasy, giving the characters a leg up in battle. To understand it is to be a hot commodity in this universe. 

Overall, this is a great series for those who love the occasional campiness and the intense personal and universe-defining dramatics that define the subgenre. Come for the space travel and the fight to survive, stay for the character depth and the epicness of it all.

NOTE: I was provided a free copy of Shadow Captain via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.

I recommend reading both books to really understand the universe. There’s a lot going on, and a long, storied history to pull from. You won’t be sorry you started at the beginning:

Start with Revenger…


By Alastair Reynolds
Orbit Books

Buy Paperback

…and follow it with Shadow Captain

Shadow Captain

By Alastair Reynolds
Orbit Books

Buy Kindle eBook

Reviews & Robots has an affiliate relationship with the Amazon Associates program and may be compensated for sales related to the Amazon links enclosed in this article.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: