Set in the future after Earth has been turned to a barren wasteland, the descendents of humanity have splintered into multiple groups ruled by an iron-fisted spiritual sect called The New Tribunal. Executor Rising follows Cassius Vale, a former member of the Tribunal, as he directs his illegal android ADIM on clandestine mission, Sage Turner, an Executor (assassin) who has devoted her life to the protection of the Tribunal, and Talon, a mercenary with little to be thankful for in this life aside from his darling daughter.
In the interests of full disclosure I must say that I received a free review copy of Executor Rising, but this in no way affects my opinion and it was provided to me with the knowledge that I would give an honest review so let’s get to it!
I found the main strength of the book was the characters. It starts off with ADIM but there isn’t one central protagonist, and sometimes this is a risky prospect because if the reader doesn’t connect with one or two characters the story can really bog down. However, I found all them interesting and this ensured that I was eager to get to the next chapter to catch up with whatever character was being focused on. All of them had their own arcs, which meant there was no dead weight. Personally, I enjoyed ADIM the most. I’m a sucker for stories where artificial intelligences explore humanity and there were a few touching moments with him and his Creator. I also enjoyed Sage a lot as well.
It’s kind of impossible to divorce the plot from the characters since both aspects are meshed together and the story dovetails nicely when different characters intersect and certain revelations are made. Since this is the first in an intended series I was wary when I approached the end because I wasn’t sure whether everything was going to be resolved fully, so I was pleased when things came to a satisfying conclusion and was also intrigued by certain hints at future plots. I liked how the universe is presented, with Earth having been ruined. Much of the backstory is peppered in throughout the book so the story doesn’t get bogged down in world-building, although I think I could have done with a few things being a little more fleshed out but I can understand why the author wanted to sustain the pace.
The narrative is fast-paced and while the characters are well-defined there’s a very strong rhythm to the action and I thought the author did well at balancing the action and character development. However, it’s here that I must point out there are quite a few typos and grammatical errors, but as far as I understand these are being cleaned up and they may well even be fixed by the time this review is published.
Overall I thought this was a solid book and I enjoyed reading it. While the themes are familiar the characters hooked me in and thus I enjoyed exploring the themes through their perspective. I don’t think the climax was as tense as I feel it was supposed to be as the stakes didn’t quite come across fully, but I was satisfied with the ending and where it leaves the characters in anticipation of the next book. It’s a bit rough around the edges but it’s sci-fi that strikes a good balance between action and character development, which I like.