I originally picked up Darkship Thieves by Sarah A. Hoyt because I had heard from a few people that she was a good storyteller. I was a little leery, at first, due to the cover being somewhat more risque than I preferred, but I decided to read the book anyway. I wasn’t disappointed.
Thena, the protagonist, is woken by one of her father’s goons in the middle of the night as he tries to attack her. She escapes him only to find all of them chasing after her. Desperate to get away, she escapes via a lifepod and steers it toward the powertrees, giant biological constructs which produced powerpods which were used by humanity to power everything, in hopes of getting one of the harvesters to help her.
Instead, she is picked up by a darkship thief, one of a group rumored to be the remnants of bioengineered outcasts from human society. As Thena learns more about them, she also learns more about herself, including revelations about things she never guessed existed. The ride on which Hoyt takes the reader is full of interesting twists, turns, double-backs, and more. Darkship Thieves is gripping all the way through, and reminds me of some of the classic science fiction adventures from the Golden Age (not surprising, since Hoyt credits Heinlein as one of her influences).
I don’t usually like books told in first-person present tense (parts of the book are written this way), but the style used by Hoyt quickly drew me into the story. Thena is a very interesting protagonist, and hearing her thoughts and opinions on everything enhanced my enjoyment. I really liked seeing her reason out the situations into which she was placed, especially when those situations contradicted everything she thought she knew. Hoyt did a very good job helping me to care about Thena and Kit, her co-star. I wanted to learn more about them.
There were a couple spots where Hoyt appeared to be getting onto her soapbox and preaching about current politics, but those instances were thankfully few and far between, and didn’t last very long, either. I don’t necessarily mind authors expressing various opinions through their characters and the situations found in the book, but I also like them to be a bit more subtle than the instances found here. This didn’t detract terribly from the main story, however.
For much of the book, I wondered why Thena seemed almost too capable, but Hoyt resolved that well at the end. In fact, almost everything that seemed to niggle at me as I read the book was handled masterfully by Hoyt. I was very satisfied with the ending, and I am looking forward to reading the other two books in the series. Darkship Thieves is a solid read and worth your time.
Release Date: November 30, 2010 (USA)
ISBNs: 1439133980 (9781439133989)
Publisher: Baen Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (mention of effects of alcohol, nefarious use of knock-out drugs)
Language: 2 (some occasional expletives)
Nudity: 1 (cover art is rather risque)
Sexuality: 1 (some discussion of sexual topics, some innuendo)
Violence: 2 (some graphic descriptions of death, fisticuffs, torture)