Cade Sura is having a bad day.
Sure, it hasn’t been easy after the Praxis Empire demonstrated its planet-killing might and changed into an intergalactic Kingdom. Sure, orphaned brothers Cade and Tristan scrabble and steal and con their way though the markets of their backwater home planet of Kyysring, often getting into more trouble than they intended. Okay, so that one time they were rescued by a mysterious shido-wielding Rai (knight) named Ser Jorken and recruited into the Well, an ancient order of mystic acolytes devoted to protecting the Universe. And maybe Cade’s older brother Tristan is the Paragon, the one chosen to wield the Rokura, a weapon of infinite power that could turn the tide in the battle waging against the Praxis Kingdom.
But when their mission to sneak onto the war-torn planet of Quarry and steal the Rokura out from under the noses of Praxis forces goes wrong and Cade finds himself the unwitting bearer of the tool with the power to change the entire universe, he learns just how dire his situation truly is, as he realizes that the most powerful weapon in the galaxy…
… doesn’t like him.
Comic creator and collaborator Micheal Moreci’s first novel, Black Star Renegades, is a rollicking love letter to Star Wars and the imaginations inspired by it. Part mythic concoction and part Guardians of the Galaxy swagger, it runs pell-mell from one deadly situation to the next, barely giving the reader a chance to breathe, as Cade doesn’t just leap from the frying pan to the fire over and over, he gets a running start and pole-vaults into the inferno.
But in between the seemingly non-stop action, Moreci manages to bring a humanity to Cade who is forced to assemble his own rag-tag group of rebels to keep the Rokura from being taken from him and honor his brother. Though the moments of self-reflection are fleeting, they are impactful as he begins to understand the oppressive weight of the expectations that his brother bore and learns that the people he counted on most might not be trustworthy, and the ones who want him dead may be his closest friends.
This story has it all: rollicking space battles, secret missions, a power-hungry dictator, an order of warrior priests, and orphans and street-rats dealing with the impact of destiny upon them. Part Star Wars, part Indiana Jones adventure, with even a smidge of Firefly essence thrown in, you’re going to recognize a good number of the influences author Moreci taps into for his freshman work. But all of that is just evidence of the deep love and respect he has for his sci-fi roots. The stories we’ve grown up with these last few decades have shaped us, and this first book in the ongoing series is sure to be a hit for those hungry for another great adventure.
“Gazing upon the universe, he felt awed, something he hadn’t experienced since he first arrived on Ticus and witnessed the immensity of the Floating World. Somewhere between then and now, he’d forgotten how vast and full of wonder the galaxy was; he’d forgotten what the oath he’d taken as a Rai, a defender of peace in the galaxy, really meant. Maybe everyone else at the Well had, too. Because every system that came under Praxis’s control, every planet that ceded to Praxis’s regime, was the Well’s failure. Mired in galactic diplomacy, lacking the courage to act, and suffering from a vacuum of strong leadership, the Well and its peacekeeping allies had lost their way.
They’d become passive in the face of evil.
They’d grown afraid.
The galaxy couldn’t abide either for a moment longer.” - Chapter 14
VERDICT: FOUR Armed Praxis Sentries out of FIVE