Reviewed in the United States on July 5, 2021
Drykers Folly #1: This is the First book in the Origin’s story of Dryker, the legendary Admiral who defeated the original attack on Earth by the Tigris.
In this first book, we meet a very different Dryker from the man we know, he is a bit scruffy, and on board a rock hauler in the dark parts of our solar system, collecting asteroids from the Kuiper Belt that look tasty (contain the right sort of minerals), and then flinging them back to Earth.
As he is doing this though, there is a massive communication burst coming from Pluto, and aimed at ‘Sol’.
Dryker makes contact with the local military ship, and speaks to them about it, and is asked to head to Pluto with them to investigate, which he grudgingly obliges.
It is from there, that everything goes bad for Humanity, and this book really starts to heat up.
Without explanation, several ships appear through our Sun, and attack everything in their path, but not with weapons that Humans are used to seeing, instead, it appears that these creatures simply board the vessel, and take control of it, looting it, and then either using it as a weapon to take out other ships, or destroying it.
Without giving too much away, and I will let you read the specifics and details, Dryker ends up heading to Pluto with the Commander of the UA Johnson, Sheng, and there, they find something that can help them turn the tide against these invaders who have come through what is known as a ‘Helios Gate’ in our Sun.
Whilst this is good news in the short run, Dryker does however discover something far worse, that the pulse was a warning about something else, a different enemy called ‘Vuka Spectra’ or, ‘The Void Wraith’.
This enemy is more powerful than those attacking, than those in the new tech Dryker found, everyone is terrified of them. (Insert Chilling Music Here!!!)
For those that have read the Void Wraith Series, you know what is coming, however, if you haven’t, then this is a really great starting point for the series as you get a fantastic introduction to everything, the current Human situation, Dryker, the Tigris, the Wraith, even the Primo.
Book 1 is a stunning thrill ride, from pretty much the first pages, in which Dryker is flinging asteroids across the galaxy, until the last pages, (sorry no spoilers!!), but this is a seriously exciting book.
As with all the previous Void Wraith books, the Tech is amazing, and really makes the story a lot of fun.
Fox has continued with the exceptional world/galaxy building, as there are not only the multiple races, each with their own cultures and backgrounds, technology, there are hundreds of planets, each with complex architectures and backgrounds to provide them a wealth of information.
On top of this, Fox’s Character work is just superb, Dryker is outstanding as the grizzled old veteran, disgruntled with his former Government, but still interested in helping the people. Sheng is the loyal Commander but understands people like Dryker and their uses.
And Fox allows us into the Tigers Lair so to speak, but providing us the perspective of the Enemy as well, mainly through the eyes of a powerful up and coming Captain, Fizgig. This insight into the ‘Tigris’ is not only fascinating, but also a lot of fun, and provides a real understanding of how they think and operate. This information makes reading the story so much more enjoyable as you can start to see how things are going to play out, building anticipation towards things.
The combat sequences, both the ship to ship and the hand to hand combat, are just exceptional, the intricate detail, so you can feel each impact as a ship is struck, or hear the bones snapping from a kick and feel the air shake with the roar of victory from a Tigris kill… The combat is intensely brutal, realistic, and ferocious, but thrilling to read, you will rip through the pages to see what happens next.
This is an excellent start to what is going to be a gripping, very clever, and at all times, total thrill ride of a series.
If you have read any of the Void Wraith Series, you will love this, if not, then get into now, this is the perfect entry point, and you have the chance to read what is one of the best Mil Sci-Fi series ever written – The Void Wraith Saga – now includes 9 full books and a novella – all of which are on Audiobook to – and it is absolutely worth it!!
Drykers Stand #2: In Part 2 of this new series in the Void Wraith Saga, Dryker has once again returned to a Military career, only this time, he is aboard the ‘UFC’ Johnson, rather than the ‘UA’ Johnson, all of Humanity having united under a single banner with the threat of the Tigris.
At the start of this book, it has been a year since the events at the end of the last book, and Dryker is the 2nd Officer, under Capt Sheng, with the rest of the crew of the Johnson. He has the Johnson looking into old Primo bases and planets, hoping to find some old tech that will help them in their fight with the Tigris. However, their search is interrupted by the arrival of a group affiliated with the Tigris known as the Sabers (Large Cats, similar to the Saber Tooth Tigers of old Earth, larger and more powerful than the average Tigris). Thankfully due to some marines, an M60 and a Gauss Cannon, they manage to escape, but under the suspicion of how they found them to start with?
One of the research team, Lt Divya, manages to collect all of the research pertaining to Tigris from the databanks though, hoping it will help them in the future.
Meanwhile (without too many spoilers), the Sabers, who rival Pride Leonis, launch an all out attack on Tigrana, hoping to remove Leonis as the head of the Tigris.
This is the first time (if this is your introduction to Void Wraith, first time ever, for some of us, first time this series), that we see the Tigris fight in an internal conflict this series, and it is fascinating to see how it unfolds. The Sabers are a brutal Pride, not only attacking other warriors, but also civilians, and doing the unthinkable, and ransacking a Tigris Temple, the place of the Holy Ones. As with all the Tigris parts of this story, Fizgig makes an appearance, and her interactions are as always, humourous, brutal, and utterly intriguing, she continues to be one of the best characters in this series by far.
She meets some other interesting characters here that not only make this part of the story really thrilling, but it is obvious they will be making an appearance later to, and this only adds to the story.
What unfolds from here is a complex set of plotlines and story arcs, all intermingled between several or the Core Players in this series, (Dryker, Fizgig, Reid, Sharena, Mow and some others I won’t mention to avoid spoilers), it also includes minor players, again, I’ll avoid spoilers, but you quickly start to realise that Book 2 is both playing out parts of this story, but also building it nicely for not only the next book, but also exceptionally well, for the remainder of the Void Wraith Series.
In this particular story, there are some stunning combat sequences, as again the Tigris and Humans battle it out for supremacy of space in one strategic location or another. At the forefront of these conflicts, Dryker and Fizgig provide some outstanding tactical and strategic genius as they manoeuvre around each other to try and win the day, but at the same time, both try and avoid serious casualties for their own people. These Combat Sequences are intensely realistic, both in space and in Close Combat, with powerfully gritty, and brutal scenes that show just how ferocious the Tigris can be, and the tenacity of the Human Marines facing them.
Fox has created this incredible Universe to tell his story in, not just with a in-depth set of planets and stars for the crews to visit, but with the technology of the ‘Helios Gate’, allowing ships to travel “Through” a Sun, there is unlimited potential for exploration. However, it is not just the technology, nor the astrogation that are real stars of the ‘World Building’, it is the incredibly complex, multi-faceted cultures that are wrapped around each of the species that Humanity discovers, and within those, each Character has such a stunning and rich background.
The cultural aspects of the Tigris are just so extraordinary, from simple things like their grooming habits, to their eating rituals, and combat practices, it is a long time since I have read a Mil Sci-Fi that has had a completely different standard for not just Hand-to-Hand combat, but also Ship-to-Ship combat as the Tigris to – and there are a lot of aspects to it, making it really fascinating to read, and a lot of fun to. But it also delves back into their Civilisation as well, with their religion, all aspects of their culture, even their mating rituals. Fox has put so much thought into it.
This is just as detailed for the other major Factions in the Galaxy, such as the Primo, and others I won’t give away spoilers for.
It is this level of World Building that really creates such an amazing story, that you can really get absorbed into and totally lose yourself in. As I have said, this also extends to the exceptional Character writing, from Dryker, and his attitude towards the Military, but his underlying compassion and drive to help others. Dryker is such a conundrum at times, but he is also a very likeable and very funny character.
Fizgig is easily one of the most likeable and powerful characters in the series, but she is also one of the most fascinating, having gone from a rather inexperience younger Tigris, to now being the Captain of a ship, and the hopes and dreams of some pinned on her shoulders. She quickly finds herself being elevated, and it is captivating watching what unrolls around her, the power she has, her fighting prowess, both in Close Combat, but also as a Ships Captain. She is a ferocious opponent, but a highly amusing one as well.
As well as enthralling and funny Characters, Fox shows his skill, by also managing to make you feel really creepy with the Character of Reid, who is this nasty, malicious, slimy little scientist, who works for the UAF, and should really be locked up for War Crimes. But because he is a ‘Gifted Genius’ with technology and research, the UAF tolerate him, and make use of him. It shows just how brilliant Fox is though, as he can have you loving one character, and in the same sentence have you utterly detesting and loathing another.
One of the really clever parts of Fox’s writing in this series has been his humour, it is all through his stories and characters, and adds so much fun to the series. You will be seriously laughing yourself silly at points, at some of the things he writes, and at others, gripping the book, unable to put it down, having to find out what happens next, who cares what time it is, what you are late for!! You have to read it!!
Drykers Fall #3: Dryker’s Fall starts with several interesting and compelling storylines as both Humans and Tigris prepare for yet another conflict, this time, within the Tigris systems. At the same time Fizgig and those close to her, which includes a lot of the Prideless, and other Prides, such as the Sabers, including Thorn, have resurrected ‘The Claw of Tigrana’ the Legendary ship of Tigrana, the ship that brought the Tigris people to Tigrana originally. The ship is not just a powerful warship, but it is a significant religious icon and symbol to the Tigris. By getting this ship going again, Fizgig has been seen as being almost chosen by her to lead the Tigris into battle. The Khan of the Leonis people, Mow, now sees Fizgig as an equal, and given that he is not her equal in combat, he instead, has positioned himself as the ‘Statemen’ to her ‘Warrior’ and the pair now lead the Leonis Pride. It is fascinating watching the political games, and intrigue that occurs as all the different groups via for power, as well as for Fizgig’s attention.
The Humans meanwhile let slip they plan to attack the homeworld of Tigris, and thus the Cats settle in at their homeworld, waiting to destroy Humanity, but instead, the Humans have different plans, and head to the Tigris shipyards at Bastet, and there, they start to lay waste to the Tigris shipyards, something that will set the Tigris back years, if not longer.
The Tigris rally, and head to the System, and here is where we see something that happens a few times in this book.
I don’t really want to give anything away (No Spoilers as such), but this book has some spectacular combat scenarios in it, in which one or the other side retreats or does not engage from, so the other side taunts them, using slurs and calling out things via fleet wide signals (to both fleets), about how they are cowards and have no honour, or that they are going to destroy home planets. It is rather fascinating watching the effects of this, and the overall outcome.
And this has effects not just for that engagement either, it has ongoing effects that ripple back to other planets and systems (even other races) over time.
Dryker himself is not engaged in these scenarios, after the initial battle he and Reid are deemed too valuable, and have to follow up on specific research. Little do they know that Reid is actually acting under the thrall of a Symbiote, and has very little control over his actions. This part of the story has some rather interesting facets to the story with regards to not just the treatment of prisoners in custody, and this has been a theme a couple of times in the series, as Dryker has been horrified at how prisoners have been treated by his own Government, all in the name of ‘ending the war’ with the enemy quicker.
These Political and Military intrigues arise often throughout the series, and make for some very interesting reading, as the Author has not taken a side as such, but has almost provided both points of view (Although in the case of Reid’s Point of View, it is quite obvious that he is just a creepy, twisted psycho).
As with the other books in this series, and all of the other books in this Saga, Fox continues to develop the incredible Galaxy he has created to tell this amazing story in. His World-Building is exceptional, with such a comprehensive and detailed, multi-faceted look into his world, with every aspect being fully covered from the different Races and their cultures, planets, ships, to each of the people and their backgrounds and to the tech, which is just beautifully described, and there are so many wonderful devices. The World Building is one of the really impressive aspects of this story as it really allows you to immerse yourself totally into each location like you are really there.
The same can be said for the combat sequences, both in space and hand-to-hand, which are just outstanding. The close combat is just so fast, and so brutal, the Tigris fight with such ferocity, and against each other, fights are over quickly due to their power and skill. Against humans, it is a joke, and they kill 2 or 3 in a row instead. These scenes are so gritty and visceral, and although they are violent, Fox has done them in such a way that they are not over the top or excessive, so that you can understand the nature of the combat, without needing a vomit bag.
One of the things I really love about this book (and this series and saga), is the cleverness and intelligence of the Characters, how they think, and react to things. There is patience and strategy to their thoughts, tactics in their suggestions, but at the same time, there are also times when someone like Dryker is just fresh out of ideas as a leader, and turns to others. This is a ‘team’ effort, not a one person wins all, and same on the other team – Fizgig is powerful for sure, but without her loyal team, she would have been dead only a few chapters into the first book. It really shows an understanding of how things work in real life, translated into words, and it is done so well.
One other trivial thing, something that I always find fascinating, but you never see in books, they actually use the bathroom and toilet like real people (and I use the term ‘People’ as a generalization to cover the Alien races as well)
The ending is very well done, cleverly wrapping up this series, and leading it into the next series, without damaging the continuity at all, but also without making any of the characters look stupid. Fox has also skillfully introduced various characters into various locations, some just seeded as needed, but others almost like Easter Eggs, and it is fun watching for them.
This has been an outstanding prequel series to what is one of the best Mil Sci-Fi Series out there, the Void Wraith Saga has long been a favourite of mine, and this has only improved it. If you are new to the series, this is a great introduction, and you won’t be disappointed, and if you have read or listened to the original series, then you will absolutely love this (Trust me, he hasn’t gone and done a Phantom Menace on us!!) This is a must read!!