Review – Galen’s Way: A Starquest Novel of the 4th Age by Richard Paolinelli

Well! That was quite the ride, readers. I received this book as a free eARC in order to review it, and it was enormous fun. It felt like going to see a film you think you will recognize, only to find that there is a new movie on and you like it! From the blurb:

          A KIDNAPPED PRINCESS.

          A FEARED MERCENARY.

          AN EVIL EMPIRE ABOUT TO BE BORN.

          The Princess Rhiannon of Salacia has been kidnapped and is being held for ransom on the fortress planet of Nammu. Galen Dwyn, the most feared mercenary in the Andromeda Galaxy has been hired to rescue her and bring her home.

          He will soon find himself on the run with the Princess and right in the middle of a web of political intrigue even as he begins to fall for the Princess. For her love, he will stand alone against the forces looking to establish a new, and very evil, empire.

          Galen will look to keep her safe and bring the budding empire to a halt before it can gain a foothold in the galaxy. He will choose to do so the only way he knows how.

          Galen’s Way.

          Dragon Award finalist Richard Paolinelli takes us on a grand adventure in this space opera offering set in the 4th age of Dragon Award winner John C. Wright’s Starquest universe.

 

Like many other writers, Mr. Wright* has been disappointed with the direction the Star Wars* franchise has gone. In solidarity with Nick Cole*, Jason Anspach*, and several other authors, he has set out to write his own space opera series to fill the vacancy which Disney has opened in the culture. To that end he gave Mr. Paolinelli* the opportunity to, as writers say, “play in [his] sandbox.” The result is Galen’s Way*, a novel that has strong echoes of Star Wars yet is distant from that famed series.

Allow me to elaborate on this point, readers. When Mr. Cole and Mr. Anspach set out to create their wildly successful Galaxy’s Edge series*, they billed it as #StarWarsNotStarWars. In other words, Galaxy’s Edge is very Star Wars-lite, but it is different in all the key areas that count.

Starquest – specifically Galen’s Way – steps out of the space opera path Star Wars had trod so well. While a number of scenes and the core political argument could have been ripped from A New Hope and The Phantom Menace respectively, the rest of the universe reads like a combination of Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda* melded with the Halo video game franchise*, giving it a flavor quite distinct from Lucas’ magnum opus. Add a dash of Joss Whedon’s Firefly* and a sprinkling of The Lord of the Rings* to the mix, and you have Galen’s Way.

With regard to the titular character, Galen is less Han Solo and more Louis L’Amour* gunslinger, with a healthy dose of Templar Knight added for good measure. Throw a little Master Chief in and you will have a pretty good picture of the man who leads this adventure. Rhiannon has some similarities to Leia, but those disappear rather quickly, as she must confront terrors and tragedies greater than the Princess of Alderaan did. And the ship’s AI, who rounds out the trio, is a sassy gal who would give Halo’s Cortana a run for her money.

The intrigue in the story is basically what should have been done in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, with extra twists and turns added and some subtracted, giving it a greater sense of purpose at the same time it becomes more dangerous. Having followed Mr. Paolinelli’s Star Trek fan fiction story (reviewed here), I can say he is a writer who has a very strong grasp of just how politics will affect both the individual and the collective. As with The Calling, he expertly paints a picture of what the villains’ endgame will do to the Andromeda Galaxy as a whole, not just to the heroes. One can feel the stakes rise the further into the story one goes.

On the subject of villains, the bad guys in this novel are real pieces of work. Admittedly, one of the main antagonists is a surprise, while the other two are more complex than they first appear. The minor desperadoes are so disgusting that they are dispatched practically on the spot, which is almost as satisfying as seeing one of the more important villains meet his demise in a fashion befitting his character.

You won’t find any mind tricks or mystical powers in Galen’s Way, readers. If those are or will become part of the wider Starquest universe, it will happen in other novels. At present, Galen’s Way leads me to believe that Starquest will be less Star Wars-lite than Galaxy’s Edge and the other series which have been spawned by the fall of a galaxy far, far away.

This being said, there were some minor issues with the novel. Words were missing from a number of sentences, while others were misspelled. Several commas and quotation marks were absent without leave, too. Readers who take issue with “head-hopping” – changing character perspectives mid-scene and/or mid chapter – will probably not be happy with some of the transitions among viewpoints in this novel.

I did find, however, that these items were made less aggravating than they might have been by the tone of the tale. Mr. Paolinelli has a very good storytelling “voice” which carries through in his writing, making it easy to ignore the grammatical inconsistencies. A reader cares less about the grammar than about what happens next. This is the effect that every author ought to strive for, and Mr. Paolinelli accomplishes it in Galen’s Way.

If you want to settle down with a good space opera but don’t wish to take a jaunt to a galaxy far, far away, then Galen’s Way is the book you are looking for. Full of intrigue, derring-do, romance, and snicker-worthy humor, it is a novel in which one will be happy to become lost. Don’t take my word for it, though – pick the book up today and read it yourself. You won’t regret it!

*These are Amazon affiliate links. When you purchase something through them, this author receives a commission from Amazon at no extra charge to you, the buyer.

If you liked this article, friend Caroline Furlong on Facebook or follow her here at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com. Her stories have been published in Cirsova’s Summer Special and Unbound III: Goodbye, Earth, while her poetry appeared in Organic Ink, Vol. 2. She has also had stories published in Planetary Anthologies Luna and Uranus. Another story was released in Cirsova Magazine’s Summer Issue. Her most recent piece is available in Planetary Anthology: Sol. Order them today!

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