Book Review: Impulse

Impulse by Dave Bara, The Lightship Chronicles #1

Lieutenant Peter Cochrane of the Quantar Royal Navy believes he has his future clearly mapped out. It begins with his new assignment as an officer on Her Majesty’s Spaceship Starbound, a Lightship bound for deep space voyages of exploration.

But everything changes when Peter is summoned to the office of his father, Grand Admiral Nathan Cochrane, and given devastating news: the death of a loved one. In a distant solar system, a mysterious and unprovoked attack upon Lightship Impulse resulted in the deaths of Peter’s former girlfriend and many of her shipmates.

Now Peter's plans are torn asunder as he is transferred to a Unified Space Navy ship under foreign command, en route to an unexpected destination, and surrounded almost entirely by strangers. To top it off, his superiors have given him secret orders that might force him to become a mutineer.

The crisis at hand becomes a gateway to something much more when the ship’s Historian leads Peter and his shipmates into a galaxy of the unknown -- of ancient technologies, age-old rivalries, new cultures, and unexpected romance. It’s an overwhelming responsibility for Peter, and one false step could plunge humanity into an apocalyptic interstellar war….
  


Impulse came as a total suprise to me, I hadn't heard of Dave Bara before and his writing and didn't saw any annoncements of this book whatsoever. When Del Rey asked me if I would like to review this book I counldn't say no, I am a big fan of space opera science fiction and from the blurb I could make out that it would be choke full of action and spaceships. What more can you wish for? Well this is far from everything that you get in Impulse as Dave Bara does not only make the book drive on action there is a very nice undercurrent of something big that is about to happen. And only one man can save it. 

The story of Impulse focuses on the main protagonist young Lieutenant Peter Cochrane. In his military career he was groomed with one goal in mind, serving on the Lightship the HMS Starbound. One day he is called into his father office, Peter's father is a general in the Quantar Navy, his father mentions that one of their Lightships, the HMS Impulse has been attacked and has to be retrieved, however there is worse new as Peter's girlfriend was on board HMS Impulse and is presumed dead. The Quantar Navy cannot loose the HMS Impulse and therefore assemble a rescue mission to retrieve the ship, now Peter's original plans of serving on HMS Starbound are thrown around as he is part of the lead to retrieve HMS Impulse. But as you might imagine, this rescue mission will be far from straightforward. Something is going on board of the HMS Impulse that is hard to put a finger on. Luckily Peter isn't alone in this mission. On a night drinking he already get acquainted with a female officer, one that he hadn't thought to see that soon after. Commander Dobrina Kierkopf and Peter's first introduction is quite an eventful one as after a few drinks they decide to has a fencing sparring match. After this everything mostly take place in outer space and where some might think that it is only empty space, well also here Dave Bara has some nice surprises for you. All this combined makes the story of Impulse very cool to read, as I already mentioned there are a lot of cool things happening but they all follow up on each other so explaining more would only spoil many surprises.  

What leaped out of the book was the way that the narration of the story was done. The narration is told from the first person perspective of Peter. In many ways this narration really worked to show the inner thoughts of Peter, how he reacted and perceived the different elements of the world. Such a first person narration always help to bring a much stronger conviction of the protagonist to the front. However I do have a small remark concerning this and perhaps it is due to being a first book in the series and that Dave Bara wants show a lot (and I do welcome this enthusiasm) but it felt in some cases that the narration faltered and felt more of less forced, this could also be due to the Peter himself being torn in so many different ways. This is just a small remark as when the action takes in Impulse, this first person narration offers a front row seat. 

As I already said Peter is the main protagonist of Impulse. In building his character Dave Bara doesn't give him an easy role. Peter is a descendant from a noble line and has to live up to this role, you can feel that he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders due to this. This also becomes notable later on in the story when he acts as a emissary/delegation to construct an alliance. He is also haunted by the loss of his girlfriend on HMS Impulse and his obligation to help and save as many people as he can. This makes him a complex character but enjoyable to read, but as I said with he narration sometimes there is a conflict of interests. Next to Peter there are numerous secondary characters that you meet during the story but on stood out for me. Commander Dobrina Kierkopf, she is a smart you women, somewhat German descent. She knows what she wants and doesn't like to say no, one trait that if Peter hadn't intervened might have given disastrous results. What I said with she knows what she wants, comes more to show in the end of the book. There is an interesting twist in the end that I found written very well and you could clearly see the emotion being Dobrina's actions,  I am convinced that she wants more from Peter. Eager to see how this will be followed up. 

What I like to see in space opera is technology. I read a few of these same genre books and they brought forth very cool technology ideas. And this is precisely what you get in Impulse. Just to name a few, you have: Hoagland Field, Gate travel, displacement waves, lightspeed ofcourse, EVA suits, spaceship fights and much much more. In setting up the world and what makes it tick Dave Bara has hit all the right snares with showing just the right amount of "accessories" to build it, not going over the top with it but keeping a very serious tone, showing that even with a lot of technology you can still be beaten. Because if you think you are good, keep in mind that there might always be someone better than you. Because I didn't mention the Founders and a mythical race known as the Sri. And I also didn't mention nanotechnology. Ok now I do have to stop but just this premise alone is worked out very well. 

The same count for the core world building, the idea behind Dave Bara's interstellar world is promising. A war was won or more solved with an alliance and now a group of Historians from Earth are in search for answers of the First Empire. I haven't really spotted the typical alien like horrific creatures, but there are more than just humans present. It feels to me thatwe have just seen the tip of the iceberg or should I say one quarter of a moon of the world that Dave Bara wants to show, the history of the Founders and the other players of this universe must be much more intricate than shown so far. I really like this idea of a high entity taking charge, this will leave for a action packed sequel without a doubt. 

With Impulse Dave Bara is of to a good start with The Lightship Chronicles. He has build a very cool universe that is readily available for further exploration. Furthermore, the story is far from a straightforward kind of one as might be implied by the synopsis. Dave Bara creates quite the intricate story combining engaging surroundings and likable and human characters. As I have already said the whole promise with higher and better entities always inspires something grande. I can already see it happening for Starbound!

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