Somewhere and sometime in a future galaxy. The planet Cassa is inhabited by the human like Cassans. One of them is young Byron who wants to be a Cosbolt (= two seat fighter) pilot. Together with his comrade Trindel who is a navigator he takes part in the training in the facility located on the dark moon Guaard. Former fighter ship navigator Bassa is the lead instructor on Guaard.
An interstellar war is going on and an adequate supply with fully trained Cosbolt crews is mandatory for an successful end of the war.
CassaStaR is the story of Byron, Trindel, Bassa and a lot more unknown men. It is the story of their inner wars and their role in the outer war and how these wars influence their lives.
Let me start with some facts:
- It is a debut novel
- It is a stand alone novel
- It stands for 242 pages (in this case the unproofed review copy)
242 pages is quite short compared to the books I read normally. Of course the number of pages does not tell anything about the content. But it is a limit.
I'm a member of Goodreads and I'm used to add a short impression in the review section for every book I read.
And that is what I wrote about CassaStaR :
"This is a book about friendship set in science fiction world including space battles. It contains some unexpected turns and is well done for a debut novel." [Source]CassaStaR is definitely a character driven story. Therefore you need strong characters. Meet the talented young Byron. As good as he is with machines as bad is his interaction with other people. He acts and appears like someone you would like instantly throw out of the window. I took some time to look behind his off-putting behaviour. And I think it would have been worse without his comrade Trindel who is an talented navigator. Don't underestimate the role of Trindel. The obvious counterpart to Byron is the experienced navigator and lead instructor Bassa. He is a trustworthy officer who still fights with events from his past.
The writing style is clear without any ornateness which fits perfectly to the straight forward storytelling. The pace varies and is always adapted to the situation.
The whole story is told from mainly Bassa's and Byron's PoV and partially from Trindel's PoV. Step by step Alex J. Cvanaugh unveils the past of Bassa and Byron which has an impact of thei nowadays life. Embedded in the daily training the relationship between Byron and Bassa changes. First part of the story ends with a for me unexpected event. An event which influence the rest of the story a lot. One can say without this event the story would have continued in a completely other direction. Until the end there are two more important events. the time between the events is filled at first with simulated battles and later on with real battles which are intervowen with the character development. The end of the story delivers a not unexpected conclusion which gives enough room for further development. I hope I don't tell you a secret that the author is thinking about a sequel.
I found it mentionable that there are nearly no women in CassaStaR. Maybe they would have disturbed the relationship between the main characters.
As I told before, for me CassaStaR is a story about friendship in a science fiction world. And of course we have to talk about the world-building. I would compare the world-building with a stage. In a theatre you can see the whole stage but due to illumination not every detail (volitional or not). It is the same with the world of CassaStaR. One could say it is sparse. You get a minimum of information like a spotlight in the dark. Of course I would have appreciated to get to know more information about Cassa, Guaard and other planets, about the spaceships and especially about the enemy - an alien race called Vindicarns.
when I look at the real heart of CassaStaR - the friendship between two really different people - then I must admit it is not absolutely necessary.
it would have been the cherry on the cake.
it would have been the cherry on the cake.
For me CassaStaR is a well executed, character driven, easy to follow debut novel about friendship, I mean real friendship, set in space including battles.
I look forward to the next Alex J. Cavanaugh story - the groundwork is done and now I wait for the cherry ....
From October 19th 2010 on you can purchase your copy of CassaStaR at amazon.de, amazon.uk, bookdepository, amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Powell's. The book is also available as an ebook for Kindle, IBookstore, Nook and others.
And there is only one thing which is worth to end this post: The awesome CassaStaR book trailer