Goodbye to the Sun // by Jonathan Nevair
Wind Tide #1
Pub Day: May 18, 2021
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Length: 290 pages
About the book:
A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…
Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.
Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.
Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.
I’m going to be honest here: I’ve been hesitating writing this review due to my mixed feelings about the book. I have been very much anticipating this and I really like the author, he is such a cool and nice guy, so I really wanted to write a raving review about his book — but while it still exceeded my expectations in some areas, it also fell a little short in others.
The action starts as soon as you open the book. The author throws you right into the middle of it and, much like Keen Draden, you have to have a keen mind to be able to keep up. Nevair has dreamed up an incredible universe with a diverse set of characters, worlds, and cultures. I could spend hours just learning more about the intricate politics between the planets or even just the different factions on each specific planet. It is obvious that he has a whole lot of details thought up way beyond those which he has presented us with. This really only scrapes the surface it seems. This is at once both intimidating but also really cool. I wish he would’ve included a little bit more in the actual book though because sometimes it feels as if it is assumed that we know more than we are given. While I enjoy having shorter books (for the SFF genre) like this mixed into my usual mix of giant books, I do think that this would’ve been a great candidate for a longer book as it feels too intricate and detail-dependent to be this length.
Another area that I have opposing views about is focused on the characters. I love how the two points of views are so entirely distinct from each other. Despite there not being a header for each chapter telling you which POV is next, the style of narration easily helps make the distinction. Razor’s chapters are very character-focused, making feelings and opinions the focal point of the narration. Keen’s chapters on the other hand are more plot-driven, showing both what’s happening in the current time-line as well as giving flashbacks to the war that made him into the person he is now, deep beneath the mask that he shows everyone. The PTSD flashbacks felt so realistic and were well-placed in the storyline. As part of getting to know the characters, we get to learn about the cultures relevant to the story through Razor introducing Keen to her world as well as through Keen’s eyes as an ambassador. While the idea behind this is good, the execution felt a little unpolished here and there with the occasional awkward dialogue and clumsily placed cultural lesson. I absolutely love the focus on identity and having it as a well-integrated part of society, but at times it did feel like we were being knocked on the head a little with the explanations. It didn’t feel as natural as I would’ve liked it to for it to be such a normal part of their culture. It was almost as if Keen had to keep reminding himself of the history and importance of it – more than a well-experienced ambassador should need to.
Overall though, I am really happy I got to spend time in this universe. Nevair managed to tell a story on both the big scale with system-wide corruption and intrigue as well as on the (relatively) small scale on specific planets with clashes between factions and individual characters. The conflicts were palpable not only between strangers but also between blood and found family, battle buddies, and nemeses. Nevair doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, like trauma, death, and abuse but does so in a sensible way that isn’t simply there for shock factor. He’s also not above a little tragedy, the kind of heartbreak that will leave you breathless but at the same time also brings the realities of war to the foreground in a way the reader can’t pretend they aren’t there. A reminder of the real world and that not everybody’s story has a happy ending. So this reader, despite being heart-broken and a little confused while somehow also celebrating, is definitely looking forward to the next book in the Wind Tide series.
About the author:
Jonathan Nevair is a speculative fiction writer and the pen name of Dr. Jonathan Wallis, professor of art history at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. He writes character-driven space operas with adventurous storylines set in distant star systems. Jonathan prefers wormholes (and rabbit holes) to plot holes and hopes to be able to walk in space before he croaks.
About the Publisher:
Jessica Moon and Mandy Russell founded Shadow Spark Publishing after going through the query process for their series The Alvertaen Axiom. On the road to publication, they did a deep dive into the publishing industry and decided they wanted the control and ability to set their own terms. Extensive research and business planning ensued, they withdrew their series from traditional publication consideration and they forged their own house.
Since founding Shadow Spark, they’ve connected with like-minded creatives and are expanding at a steady clip, unwilling to submit to labels and preconceptions of what it takes to be successful in the publishing industry. They are building a strong base of creatives who work with the house to ensure all voices are heard, all works are exactly as they should be, and both house and creative alike profit in all ways from mutual support and association.
Thank you to the author for the free book in exchange for an honest review.
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