Captain Starcrost is just your typical space cowboy: cocky, carefree, sarcastic, and with quite a large bounty on his head, a sort of Han Solo meets Mal Reynolds type of character. Picture the love child of Nathan Fillion and Harrison Ford and you come up with the first person protagonist of Paul Regnier’s debut novel.
Regnier’s use of the first person is compelling and a large part of what drives the storyline and keeps reader’s interest. Starcrost knows he is ridiculous and only barely takes himself seriously and so the readers end up doing the same, joining him on his wild trek through the universe.
Starcrost’s need for coin—or vibes, as the book puts it—leads him in the search of the mythical emerald enigma. But with any search for a mythical object comes an antagonist of equally mythical proportions. The result is a wild romp that keeps you turning the pages until the very end.
The Emerald Enigma succeeds on the basis of its characters, rather than the basis of its story. The plot itself is nothing to write home about, but the characters—from Blix, the reptilian Spock-knockoff-with-a-twist, to Iris the ship computer and more—keep you tuned in and reading on.
There are better fantasy novels, to be sure, and there’s sci-fi that does deeper into their universes or their worldviews. The Emerald Enigma is a refreshing easy read that’s just there and is fun. I don’t think it holds much reread value, but I enjoyed it the first time around.
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