As you can probably see from the cover, Excalibur by Tim Marquitz is not a story based on the Arthurian legend, but it is in fact a slice of space opera. One that is part Star Trek and part Starship Troopers, which, in my book, is no bad thing at all. It’s time for The Grim Reader to boldly go where no reviewer has gone before..
Excalibur is the tale of a crew traversing the stars aboard an alien ship that was rescued after a battle by Marek Albion. Albion is a smart-mouthed captain Kirk-like veteran, excommunicated from the allied fleet but still keeping an eye on the bug menace that the Covenant are at war with, a mercenary for hire. Being aboard an alien ship has its advantages and Albion and his crew soon discover that the Xebedons (the alien bugs) are up to something which he and his crew can investigate with slighly more ease due to them flying an alien craft.
Albion is a great character and this is where Tim’s book worked well for me. I don’t read a lot of space opera at all so I felt like I needed something to keep me on-side. Albion was the character to do that. He was honourably discharged for refusing to fire on unarmed civilians (a bit like Arnie in The Running Man! One of my favourite movies, so I was soon on-side) and is less than happy whenever he has to communicate with Vance-a Covenant vice admiral that keeps his cards close to his chest..sometimes, a little too close! The dialogue between him and his crew is terrific, often funny and very smooth. His engineer (Crate) and his other officers, Choi and Lyana bounce off of him well, creating a great camaraderie between the crew, keeping the reader amused and engaged in their fates.
If it’s action you want then there is plenty of that, from the opening space battle, to a search and rescue mission on a seemingly abandoned planet, there is always something happening. Whilst Excalibur is a relatively short read for the most part it doesn’t feel rushed, and I am sure there will be more to come in the future from the crew and their captain. You still get the feel of it being epic space opera but without the unnecessary and often boring political waffle. There are hints of Star Trek and Starship Troopers, maybe a little V, too, but Excalibur is still very much its own book. I enjoyed this quite a bit and if Tim chooses to write more books in this universe then you can sign me up for another trip.
4/5 plasma cannon blasts from The Grim Reader.
Pick up a copy from here.