Escaping Amnthra is a full-fledged action adventure filled with high stakes and near-death experiences. We follow an inexperienced captain of a starship as she attempts to free her ship from the atmosphere of a planet bent on attacking them. The choice to center on a new Captain amidst a firefight makes for a lot of tension. The strong writing and exceptional character work create a compelling tale that never lets up, leaving you full of questions about the future of this ship and its rag-tag crew.
Escaping Amnthra starts with a catch – there are no engineers on board thanks to a recent mutiny, and nobody knows how to fix anything on the ship. With incoming damage and little knowledge about how to be a Captain, the future looks dim. What starts as a panic attack and indecision grows into determination as the new Captain quickly figures out the system and gets her ship out of harm’s way.
Her methods cause an interesting character duality. On the one side, she saved the day and the crew is alive, all in the nick of time. On the other side, she destroyed a big chunk of a planet, potentially killed thousands of people, and wiped out the unknown civilization’s technological advances. By this point in the story, she’s stepping dangerously into villain territory.
The final section of Escaping Amnthra solidifies her as a villain who’s able to masterfully convince herself that everything she’s doing is the right thing. The ending is shocking, leaving her alone on a gurney confident that she’s a hero.
By Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Asimov’s Science Fiction