Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review: CassaStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh

I don't usually do book reviews on Mondays, but my blog is pretty full this week and I wanted to get this review in before the end of the month. 

My blogger buddy, Alex J. Cavanaugh, science fiction writer and blogger extraordinaire, is releasing the third book of his sci-fi trilogy, CassaStorm in September. I'll be participating in a very unique book blitz, but that's not for a few more weeks. I haven't read CassaStorm. In fact I hadn't read any of the trilogy. Until last week. I decided it was high time I read something Alex has written (other than his blog posts, of course!). So, I read book 1 of his trilogy, Cassastar.

To pilot the fleet s finest ship Few options remain for Byron. A talented but stubborn young man with a troubled past and rebellious attitude, his cockpit skills are his only hope. Slated to train as a Cosbolt fighter pilot, Byron is determined to prove his worth and begin a new life as he sets off for the moon base of Guaard. Much to Byron s chagrin the toughest instructor in the fleet takes notice of the young pilot. Haunted by a past tragedy, Bassa eventually sees through Byron's tough exterior and insolence. When a secret talent is revealed during training, Bassa feels compelled to help Byron achieve his full potential. As war brews on the edge of space, time is running short. Byron requires a navigator of exceptional quality to survive, and Bassa must make a decision that could well decide the fate of both men. Will their skills be enough as they embark on a mission that may stretch their abilities to the limit? calls to mind the youthful focus of Robert Heinlein s early military sf, as well as the excitement of space opera epitomized by the many Star Wars novels. Fast-paced military action and a youthful protagonist make this a good choice for both young adult and adult fans of space wars. - Library Journal

CassStar by Alex J. Cavanaugh is a space opera type of story about a cocky young pilot who discovers he has personal powers of teleportation. Now, teleportation is pretty standard in his world, but generally one needs a ship with a teleporting machine to accomplish it. Byron can do it on his own. It's not unheard of, but it's a very rare gift. We follow Byron through his training, seeing his comrades injured in battle or worse, and see him make friends with one of his instructors, Bassa.

The style of this book reminded me of no one so much as the great Robert A. Heinlein. Now granted, it's been years since I picked up Heinlein, and he certainly didn't write entirely space opera, but that's what it reminded me of. I'll admit that I had somewhat of a hard time getting into the book, but once I did, I came to really like Byron and root for him. He's not unlike plenty of arrogant young men in our world, who have to go through some stuff to be made more humble. 

This is a simple story--the narrative is utterly uncluttered with subplots or fringe concerns--and it's one that follows the pattern of many of its predecessors, but it was no less touching for that. I appreciated the message and found myself wanting to know what happens to Byron next. Luckily for me, there is a sequel. I might just have to pick up CassaFire. :D 

Anyone else read any great space opera lately?


  1. Wow, what a surprise! Thank you, Liesel. Glad you stuck with the story - I know Byron is a bit unlikeable in the beginning. I'm honored more than one person has compared my writing style to Heinlein. He was a master.
    With the introduction of Athee, I think you'll really like CassaFire.
    Thanks again - you just made my day!

  2. Great review Liesel. His blog tour is going to blow the Internet wide open!