Fortune’s Pawn – Rachel Bach

About the Book

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

330 pages (paperback)
Published on November 5, 2013
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

Fortune’s Pawn took me two tries to read, not because I didn’t like it, but because I tend to enjoy my SciFi a bit more Peter F. Hamilton-ish than Military-Guns-Action. I like the sprawling epics that really take me out of my universe and immerse me in something else. That’s why I enjoyed Ancillary Justice so much, and that’s why I struggled with Fortune’s Pawn. This is one of those books that is more surface level, more action and fun, than sprawling worlds and unique societies.

Now, let me be clear, that’s not a slam on Fortune’s Pawn. Some books just work for people while others don’t. That has nothing to do with the actual qualities of the book. I just don’t want to eat something salty if I’m aching for sugar. With all that aside, however, I have to admit that I am pretty pleased that I gave this book another shot. Despite the fact that it isn’t what I typically look to read, it was a worthy investment of my time and I truly enjoyed it.

Here’s the thing, Fortune’s Pawn is going to divide readers pretty decently. Again, that’s not a bad thing, but that’s the way it will probably be. This is a lighter book, full of action and military might. Also, romance, complete with the savory eye candy and plenty of lust. So, basically what this boils down to is Fortune’s Pawn is one of those books that will thrill military SciFi readers, while dazzling those readers who enjoy plenty of lust in their plots. Not for everyone, though. People who enjoy a bit more sprawling epic to their SciFi might find out that Fortune’s Pawn is not to their taste.

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

That quote really rings true with Fortune’s Pawn. Bach wanted to read an action packed SciFi romance, so she went and wrote one. That’s what makes this book truly unique. You can really tell that Bach wanted this written and she really poured a lot of herself into it. It is light hearted and a lot of fun, but it is also crazy unique. There aren’t a lot of military SciFi books featuring badass women like our protagonist Devi. In fact, there’s only one other series I can think of off the top of my head that fits the bill, and even then, there are all the elements that make urban fantasy so much fun poured into this action-and-guns SciFi novel, like romance and lust. That doesn’t happen in SciFi much.

Bach really blends together a lot of genres with Fortune’s Pawn, and she twists a lot of tropes into something uniquely hers. However, she handles the issues of gender in SciFi perfectly. The cook is a man, and the lead badass is a woman. My female self roared with pride whenever Devi put the smack down just as hard as any man. Furthermore, Bach proves that it is possible for women to kick ass and take names, while enjoying some tender moments and romance. You see, so many books sacrifice tenderness, quiet moments, and raw emotion in favor of badassitude, and Bach doesn’t do that and I loved her, and her novel, for it.

Fortune’s Pawn moves at an incredibly fast pace. The action starts early and keeps going almost continually. Perhaps my one qualm was the fact that Devi’s armored suit was so powerful that she, at times, had almost no vulnerability, and sometimes it’s the vulnerability in military action that makes it truly interesting. However, it is forgivable. Bach has an easy way with her writing that makes it easy for readers to feel engaged and absorbed in the plot. Things might feel a touch predictable, but that won’t matter to many readers because you’ll be having too much fun to care.

Bach really wrote something unique here, and I hope more people who might feel a little turned off by the premise give it a try. Fortune’s Pawn is one of those books that might turn a lot of people onto SciFi, especially those who might have been turned off by the genre before. Bach wrote the book she wanted to read, and it shows. Full of enthusiasm and action, love, lust, and everything in-between, Fortune’s Pawn is a rare genre-blending gem that shows that sometimes coloring outside of the lines creates the most beautiful pictures.


4/5 stars

6 Responses

  • Am I the only one who didn’t think ‘Paranormal Romance’ when reading this book? It reminded me of the sci-fi I used to read all the time, specifically Timothy Zahn; just with actual female characters a tiny bit of romance. That said, I agree with your assessment. It was very good.

    • I didn’t think “paranormal romance” per se, but I did think there was more romance in the book than I’m used to having in my SciFi. I also don’t think it was a bad thing. I think the author handled it really well and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.

  • I started am at the halfway point now and am really enjoying it. I was initially a little turned off by part of the premise, namely the reviews/blurbs I read that seemed to play up the sexual aspects of the book. The reason being is that I was getting this impression that it was essentially the kind of thing contemporary readers complain about when a male is the protagonist and I was afraid it was going to be something of an “its okay because its a woman” kind of thing, if that makes sense. And it sort of starts out that way but quickly switches over, in my opinion, to a place where the character is more well rounded and just so happens to have normal desires, which was refreshing.

    Having just gotten into the Bujold series last year and the Liaden Universe to start this year, I’m finding that the hopeless romantic in me is very much enjoying seeing romance layered in with all the science fictional aspects I have long loved.

    I hope to finish this one in the next day or two and if it continues on in this vein I’ll be giving it a positive review for certain. Happy to see the next two books will be out during this first part of the year.

    • So, I’m going to write about this more in depth later, but when I’m really stressed out I tend to turn to “fluffier” reads. Romance and UF tend to fall into those categories. I’ve been DEVOURING books that are “lighter” with more romance in them than I expect, and I think I’ve realized that I enjoy romance and lighter toned books more than I let myself believe before. Anyway, I haven’t seen that much in SciFi, and I enjoyed it WAY more than I expected. It was a pleasant surprise.

  • I was able to finish the book last night. I was a little over a hundred pages from finishing and HAD to keep reading. And then, despite being exhausted, I felt compelled to write the review while in the haze of finishing a fun reading experience. So glad a handful of blogger reviews pushed me to give this one a try. Now I’m looking forward to the next two.

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