A mysterious threat is about to complicate Calvin Range’s quest to find the hidden pieces of a superweapon.
On his spaceship, the Azure Frost, Calvin is searching the universe for the 10 missing segments of a superweapon that will defeat the Goremog, a race of murderous beings who believe it is their divine right to rule the universe. Wood’s sci-fi novel is the second book in the Ruins of Arlandia series, and the first installment, also called The Ruins of Arlandia (2013), is required reading since Wood doesn’t spend any time rehashing previous plot points, explaining who or what the characters are, or describing the details of the larger universe. Having attained the first two segments of the superweapon in the previous book, Calvin continues his mission alongside Astra, princess of the planet Aleria, and Ion, an intelligent robot. Calvin locates the third segment on a damaged freighter ship, but he also finds two other things: the lone survivor, Dev, and the Dark Terror—Goremog-engineered robots with living flesh, claws and razor-sharp teeth. Wood’s action-packed narrative features wonderfully tense moments, including the exploration of the deserted freighter and fleeing from an exploding spaceship. The MacGuffin-like search for the segments makes for a rather thin plot, but the narrative suspense more than makes up for it. After an accident aboard the Azure Frost, Calvin escapes with Astra and Dev to an abandoned planet, its inhabitants missing; it quickly becomes clear that the Dark Terror are the reason life has left the planet. Soon, Calvin and company realize a fourth segment is hidden on the planet, and to retrieve it they must battle their way through the Dark Terror. Wood’s cinematic narrative achieves an enjoyable balance between plot and character. Often finding themselves in frightening peril, the characters feel rounded and real, and their reactions and heroics drive the story. The Dark Terror, a chilling enemy, infuse the novel with an ominous sense of constant danger, hovering in the shadows of the story, ready to attack at any moment. With the Dark Terror army on their heels, Calvin, Astra and Dev must make it to the planet’s star port in order to escape with their lives and the fourth segment. But, with their far-reaching hold on the universe, the Goremog-engineered robots don’t intend to give up: Just when Calvin and his friends think they’ve escaped the Dark Terror, they land right in the Goremog’s grasp.
A fast-paced space adventure with intriguing sci-fi elements and compelling characters.