Frontiers of the Imperium by Jan Kotouc

This was a fun one, with the kind of writing I like to read, and interesting characters. The novel felt off in the later parts, like it needed to end and had not. That is not actually a problem, when the novel ends, it all makes sense.

What does make this tougher is the need to be spoiler-free, in a book of spoilers. Seriously. Lots of the good stuff to talk about is all spoiler – based.

But not yet! Frontiers of the Imperium is the first in the Central Imperium series, and the first series by Czech writer Jan Kotouč for the English-speaking market.

Frontiers has to not only tell it’s own story, but also fill in tons of world-building and context. Which Jan handles well. Enough information is provided in the text to make sure that you are not lost too badly, with a nice afterward to fill in the blanks.

Broadly, this is the story of…um…damn. Oh, here we go! This is the story of Daniel Hankerson, nephew of the Emperor, and his service aboard a shiny new communications ship, the Hermes. As they head out on a ‘show the flag’ mission, in the opposite direction of renewed fighting with the alien Ralgar.

And that is the end of the stuff that isn’t in the spoiler family. Really. So much of this book is spoiler-level content, it is hard to talk about without giving plot away.

So let’s talk about the craft of the book. There is a lot to like here. The interpersonal relationships are well written, the characters don’t blend together, and the overall feel is one of a polished author. Which makes sense, as Jan is not new to the game. Where we stumble a bit is in the realm of modern cues to far-future things. Justin Bieber is not likely to be remembered 500 years in the future, for example. Nor the much more memorable Christopher Lee. That did not throw me out of the story, it is just an odd choice for a character without a deep historical interest.

There is a lot of need to be willing to take things on faith – and that gets a little heavy at times. Again, not a real issue in my read of the book, your mileage may vary.

All in all, this is a good book with a lot of promise for the remainder of the series. I look forward to them!

  • Frontiers of the Imperium by Jan Kotouc
4