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Pirate Sun (book 3 of Virga) by Karl Schroeder

01/08/2009. Contributed by RJ Barker

Buy Pirate Sun in the USA - or Buy Pirate Sun in the UK

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pub: TOR/SciFi Channel. 318 page small hardback. Price: $25.95 (US), $28.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1545-8.

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The key to Virga is the artificial sun, Candesce, and it is in the hands of Venera Fanning. Her husband, the upstanding Chaison Fanning, is in prison for a crime he did not commit. Escaping from the prison and in the company of Darius Martor, Richard Reiss and the mysterious Antaea Argyre, he attempts to make his way back to confront the corrupt politicians who let him rot.

On his return, he is shocked to find himself seen as a traitor as powerful forces move around Chaison, all searching for the key to Candesce which is also the key to power.

'Pirate Sun' starts with a spaceship covered in moss and grass. It's a startling image that hammers home the world the book exists in a Dyson Sphere filled with atmosphere.

I dearly wish I had read books one and two.

The setting itself allows some brilliant set pieces and the action is handled really well. The characters don't come across as strongly and at times I found myself getting mixed up about who was who and had done what and why. Usually, this would irritate me immensely but as this is the third book in the series I suspect familiarity with the first two may have solved this issue.

There are bits of dialogue that jar. Again, this is usually when the characters are re-capping the events of past books. It felt like the same things are described more than once which surprised me as there's an almost tangible feeling of the author wanting to 'get on with it'. It zips along at a great pace and the world is fantastic. Real feeling and full of odd things that make utter logical sense within the framework of Virga.

This is hard SF. One of the quotes on the front calls it steampunk and I'm not sure I would agree. It is a book presenting a new world and the technology needed to work within it. The outlook of the characters didn't have a steampunk/retro feel, it's more modern.

I can't bring myself to get as excited about this book as the reviews quoted on the cover. I'll still be watching out for the earlier books the next time I visit a book shop though.

RJ Barker

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