Sunday, October 17, 2010

Edi's Spotlight: CassaStaR by Alex J. Cavanaugh

Today I have the pleasure to present you the review of a science fiction debut novel. CassaStaR (October 19th,2010) [ISBN-13: 978-0981621067] by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Thanks to Dancing Lemur Press for sending me an unproofed review copy. The review is based on this review. Click here in case you want to read the official blurb.
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.

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,, bookdepository,, 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


Old Kitty said...


I popped over from Alex J Cavanaugh's site to read your review of his debut novel! Thank you for a candid and engaging read! Nearly no women huh?! LOL!!

Anyway - this made me really want to read the book too! Take care

ediFanoB said...

Old Kitty,

nice to see you here. I'm glad you liked my review. I hope you will enjoy reading CassaStaR as much as I did.

It is going international. A German reviews the book of an American author and receives a comment from a reader in United Kingdom. Wonderful!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Edi! Thanks so much for the review. You definitely realized the heart of the story in the main character's friendship.
And no secret I am working on a sequel. With women! And the reason why no women resided in the first book...

The Golden Eagle said...

I definitely want to read the book now. :) Thanks for this review!

ediFanoB said...

I spent some time with CassaStaR and have had a good time :-)

Thanks for confirmation that you work on a sequel - with women...... Interesting for me and other like Old Kitty.
But I recommend to read CassaStaR first.

Anyway I promise you to read and review the sequel.

ediFanoB said...

@The Golden Eagle,
god to read that my review has been helpful for you. Enjoy reading CassaStaR.

DEZMOND said...

this was a lovely review, Edi :)
See, Alex, you will really have to start working on those descriptions in the second part ;)) I'm glad everyone loves the message about friendship in CASSASTAR.

ediFanoB said...


thanks for the kind words. I think it is important to read books about friendship.
I hope you will enjoy CassaStaR.

Charles Gramlich said...

thanks for the review. I'm already committed to reading this one but I appreciated the chance to learn a bit more.

ediFanoB said...

@Charles Gramlich,
I hope my review has been helpful for you.
CassaStaR is a bit different compared to other science fiction novel.
I Hope you enjoy reading ....

Clarissa Draper said...

Alex, how did you make that trailer? It's amazing! Can't wait for the release.

Arlee Bird said...

Very fine review. I like the emphaisis on character as this is the most important aspect of a story to me. I look forward to reading this book and the sequels to come.

Tossing It Out

ediFanoB said...

@Clarissa Draper,
unfortunately I can't answer your question. But I agree with you that the trailer is amazing.

ediFanoB said...

@Arlee Bird,
thanks for the kind words.I tried to be honest and fair. I hope you will enjoy CassaStaR as much as I did.

WritingNut said...

Great review Edi! I came over from Alex's blog. Just two more days until the official release! :)

ediFanoB said...

thanks for the kind words. Now you know what to expect.
I assume the next two days will be like eternity for Alex J. Cavanaugh and all the potential readers.
In order to shorten time watch again the awesome trailer.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks, everyone! Day and a half and counting.

And Clarissa, my publisher made the trailer. It's really cool, isn't it?

ediFanoB said...

Hey Alex,

thank you for answering Clarissa's question.

It seems people like my review. So far more than 100 page views and still some hours left until the end of the day :-))

The Old Silly said...

Another fine stop on this tour. I love "character driven" novels, and Cassastar sounds like a winner in that department. This is a fun and interesting tour!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Edi, glad my little army is making a difference for you! Hope you get many new followers, too.

Julie Musil said...

This is so exciting for Alex! Thanks for posting this amazing review.

Ellie said...

What is great about a blog tour is that not only do eager readers get a taste of the excitement to come, but you also get to discover some fantastic bloggers along the way. And I'm loving your blog!

Thank you for the review - I'm eager to get my hands on this book!

Stephen Tremp said...

Great to hear about the international news! And LOL at Old Kitty's comment.

Stephen Tremp

ediFanoB said...

Dear Readers,
I hope you don't mind when I reply to several people in one comment.

I recognized that some of you are blogger too. I try to visit your blogs soon.

@The Old Silly,
thank you for the kind words. I'm glad that I got the opportunity to review CassaStaR

Hey Alex,
I'm totally happy with my participation in this great blog tour!!

@Julie Musil,
thank you. It is a lot easier to write a review about book when you like it.

my blog is a bit different compared to others. And of course I like to read when someone likes what I do. Thank you for your kind words.

@Stephen Tremp,
it is exciting to share the love for books around the world. I don't want to miss to "talk" with people from different countries about the same books.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I bet Alex is happy with that review!

Seak (Bryce L.) said...

Great review Edi, I always love your take.

Lynda Young said...

I'm hearing good things about this book. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it

W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks everyone - yes, I am excited!

ediFanoB said...

@L. Diane Wolfe,
I can admit that Alex liked my review. I think he will be really happy when people buy and read CassaStaR.

I told you the I liked your review and that it differs from mine. It is good to read that you like mine too. It is quite interesting to read several reviews about the same book in a short time.

@Lynda Young,
only one day to go. And so far I did not read a negative review of CassaStaR

Finally I want to thank all people who read my review and left a comment.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds fun. Scifi and friendship's a good combination.

ediFanoB said...

@Sheila Deeth,
yes indeed it is a good combination. Hope you will like CassaStaR.

Ellie said...

Thank you for the insight and it is great to know the cherry will top it off, later on! Can't wait~

ediFanoB said...

I'm sure Alex J.Cavanaugh will deliver the "cherries" sooner or later. CassaStaR is a great book even without cherry...

Tina said...

I read a lot of book reviews. I've written a few myself. As one of Alex's loyal Ninja Army, I appreciate this generous and honest review of CassaStar. I'm really excited to read the sequel, because I was left with the same wants you mentioned: the cherry of further development of this world Alex created, and a female counterpoint to Byron.
Tina @ Life is Good
Co-Host of the April A to Z Challenge
Twitter: @AprilA2Z #atozchallenge

ediFanoB said...

Hello Tina,

thanks for stopping by.

I'm far beyond to be a professional reviewer. Therefore your comment is highly appreciated.

Glad to read that you liked the book as much as I did.

CassaFirE is a more than worthy sequel.

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