Under Fortunate Stars, Review

by Benjamin Williams

Posted on 29th January 2022

Under Fortunate Stars, Review

Under Fortunate Stars is a time-travel saga as the future and the past come together in deep space. Time travel isn't something that usually grabs my interest - so I won't lie, I wanted to read this purely for the sci-fi aspect. But because of the time travel aspect, I was probably not as excited to read it as I have been others. I was wrong! I bloody loved this book and all of its absurdities.

Fleeing the final days of the generations-long war with the alien Felen, smuggler Jereth Keeven's freighter the Jonah breaks down in a strange rift in deep space where they encounter the research vessel Gallion, which claims to be from 152 years in the future. Naturally, they don't believe it and find it rather strange that they're known and legendary figures in history.

Under Fortunate Stars

The Gallion crew likewise refuse to believe the Jonah crew are who they say they are because time travel isn't a thing, even though certain crew members look and speak exactly as they're remembered in history. The Gallion's chief engineer Uma Ozakka, a history buff on the Jonah and the tale of its crew, the Fortunate Five, who ended the war with the Felen is one who believes that time travel has actually just happened since she recognises not only the legendary ship but also its famed leader, Eldric Leesongronski.

The problem though is that nothing else about Eldric and his crewmates seems to match up with the historical record. So how can they really believe they are who they say they are. Both ships are running out of power in the rift with all of their lives at stake, which brings in the problem that if they really are the Fortunate Five and that really is the legendary Jonah, then how can they prevent history from being rewritten with a crew who are yet to even end the war and don't seem sure that they even want to.

The characters are the shining light of the book with the Fortunate Five being incredibly flawed people. Eldric is an amazingly complex character and Jereth is a smart-mouthed con-man that you just can't help but like even though you really shouldn't given his character traits. Their dynamic and friendship is a huge part of why Jereth is likeable when he shouldn't be. The flashbacks to show who Eldric and Jereth are and how they came to be in possession of the most famous ship in the galaxy are beautifully crafted to add depth to what will be two legendary people. Other flashbacks give a bit more insight into some other characters just so you know how everyone ended up where they are, but for the most part, it's about Eldric and Jereth - the stars of the show.

A special mention needs to go to a particular line about how 152 years have passed and there are still no standardised ports. Proper cracked me up and the way we're going I wouldn't be surprised if it's a realistic take.

The writing though is gorgeous and fills the book with a ton of mysteries that you mostly get answers to. You find yourself spending your time wondering how things slot into place, who the Fortunate Five are other than the three known members (the other two were shrouded in mystery in the future). There's an awful lot of coincidences and the story makes light of that instead of just glossing over it. A few times you find yourself saying "what a coincidence" only for a character to mention or think that there's been an awful lot of them.

The time travel elements are handled well, with a lot of questions that everyone has. Someone wondering about being winked out of existence, questions on whether you can actually change the past to change the future or is it already set and the events currently happening is what's always happened? Who knows and given that time travel is a bit of a complicated subject like that, I'm happy there was no definitive answer on it.

Under Fortunate Stars is easily going to be one of my favourite books of the year - and it's only January! It was just so much fun to read and I almost didn't want it to end. For a debut novel, it's very impressive. There's so much to love about the book, from the writing to the setting and the characters interactions. The huge amount of coincidences might be a deal-breaker for some, but the fact that even the characters make light of them, they became easy enough to overlook in the wider scheme of things. 

Rating: An easy 5/5.

Huge thank you to Rebellion for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.