Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings – ARC Review!

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven’s freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space, with little chance of rescue—until they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future.

The Gallion‘s chief engineer Uma Ozakka has always been fascinated with the past, especially the tale of the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen. When the Gallion rescues a run-down junk freighter, Ozakka is shocked to recognize the Five’s legendary ship—and the Five’s famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski, among the crew.

But nothing else about Leesongronski and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. With their ships running out of power in the rift, more than the lives of both crews may be at stake. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review & can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

When the crew of The Gallion find themselves in a bit of Space they can’t recognise, cut off from help and with their power slowly draining, they don’t believe things can get much worse. That is until they come across a ship claiming to be The Jonah, the legendary ship that carried the Fortunate Five, the crew that managed to end the war with the Felen. The only problem, the crew isn’t exactly who it was supposed to be, they are missing some crucial members, and the ones that are there have no wish to bring peace to the Felen. With both their ships running out of power, and no way to save themselves in sight, the two crews will need to work together, not only to save each other, but the universe as a whole.

Under Fortunate Stars is told from multiple POV’s, as well as alternating timelines and, as much as I loved the parts of the book set in the present, the flashbacks felt a little unnecessary. Yes, they added a little depth to the characters, and gave us a better understanding of them but, apart from one that was used as a plot device, the others didn’t really add anything to the story at all and just made the book significantly longer than it needed to be. My favourite of the POV’s was Shaan, a facilities coordinator with a hidden past, her character was one I felt really grew throughout the story and her chapters managed to add some tension as well as a few plot twists to the overall story.

We also get chapters from Uma, the Director of engineering for the Gallion. Her chapters were invaluable to the story as she was a kind of history buff and a little obsessed with the Jonah and it’s crew. Her POV brought a bit of levity to the book, but also gave us some pivotal information for the plot. Eldric Leesongronski, the leader of the five. His story is a little on the sadder side, and he doesn’t understand how he, someone who hates the Felen with all his being, would try and bring about peace with them. The final POV is Jereth Keevan, Captain of the Jonah. Most of his chapters are flashbacks, showing how he came to own the Jonah and how his crew came together. I loved all the interactions between these four, as well as the other members of the crew. Seeing some fanboy over them, and others reason that they couldn’t possibly be the crew of THE Jonah, as well as the crew themselves not believing their purpose made for some fun as well as some heavier moments, and Hutchings writes all their interactions brilliantly.

One of the things I enjoyed about this story was the ambiguity of it. Not only was it set in alternating timelines, but possibly different universes. Hutchings made it hard to tell whether the Gallion and Jonah getting stuck together was ‘meant to be’ to end the war with the Felen, a kind of history repeating itself kind of deal, or if they improvised with what they had. It made for a unique twist on the story, especially with two of the Five being shrouded in mystery, no one quite knowing who they were. There are a few plot twists that keep the story moving, but I do feel like it could have been significantly shorter, without loosing any of the main story or character growth. There were a few parts that just lagged too much for me, and I did find myself skipping some of the flashback chapters when I realised they had no real impact on the current plot.

Overall this was a fun and ambitious story. If you’re new to Sci-fi as a genre, this would be a great place to start as, even though there is plenty of technical talk, you never feel bogged down at all, and the author writes it in such a way that anyone can get a grasp on what is going on. Perfect for fans who love well written characters as well as stories with high stakes.

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