A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe by Alex White
A washed-up treasure hunter, a hotshot racer, and a deadly secret society.
They're all on a race against time to hunt down the greatest warship ever built. Some think the ship is lost forever, some think it's been destroyed, and some think it's only a legend, but one thing's for certain: whoever finds it will hold the fate of the universe in their hands. And treasure that valuable can never stay hidden for long. . .
The guy in the book shop described this book to me as "space ships + magic" and I was instantly sold. He wasn't lying and this book is is exactly what it says on the tin. This book reminded me of Firefly, the Expanse series and the Eisenhorn (Warhammer) books and I absolutely blitzed though it. The story follows Elizabeth 'Boots' Elsworth, who is one of a tiny minority of people born without access to magic (yes I know its a bit of a trope but it totally works here) and Nilah Brio, a spoilt rotten but absurdly talented race car driver together with a rag bag crew of a old but faithful space ship.
What I Loved
Barely one action sequence finishes before the next began - this really made it a page turner as I could never seem to find a good break point to tear myself away. The constant action isn't that surprising given the fact that the characters are trying to get to the treasure hoard before the baddies. The whole book is basically one long chase sequence peppered with the odd moment where the characters can catch their breath before the next calamity hits them. Put it this way, it starts off with a car crash and then devolves from there. I personally am too impatient for stories that take a long time to ramp up, so this suited me down to the ground.
Magic + Sci-Fi
Literally my two favourite things smushed together. I was really impressed with the worldbuilding by the author - it felt like he had really thought about the effects on day to day futuristic life that magic would have. Everything in the universe was permeated by magic, this created really cool environments and technology and the fact that one of the characters had no access to magic really shined a light on how prevalent it was.
I thought all of the characters were great, each had something about them that felt real. Nilah was set up as a spoilt brat and it was no surprise when she was smacked in the face with a healthy does of reality by the situation and the others and transformed into a (very cocky) but likeable character. If I am being picky, I would comment that the villains were less well developed, however, I suppose this is because they are meant to be all mysterious at this stage.
What fell flat
The Magic system didn't make a whole lot of sense to me
Now don't get me wrong, it was very cool, however, as a fan of hard magic systems which set clear boundaries as to what can and cannot be solved by magic, I didn't really understand the limitations of this system. Maybe that's the point, maybe all will be revealed in the next two books... That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book.
This is probably the best new to me author I have come across in a while and I was totally hooked. I will definitely read the next two in the series asap.