A spacefaring crew of teenage thieves? An exciting universe populated by monarchies, competing crime lords, a (possibly insidious) pervasive bureaucratic organization? A conflicted thief who wants nothing more than the safety of his sister and to regain ownership of his family’s spaceship? A beautiful, yet ruthless, rival?
Ok. Yes. I want more of this, please.
Orphaned with his means of freedom leveraged over him, Jeth Seagrave finds himself leader of the Malleus Shades, a gang of thieves who do the bidding of the crime lord Hammer, while trying to earn enough to buy back his ship and get his younger sister away from the dangers of the criminal underworld. Their current job? Steal a sacred ruby from the Grakkan emperor’s bed chamber.
Easy peasy, right? Well, what fun would it be if everything went according to plan? And things definitely, definitely do not go according to plan. <cue danger, excitement and more danger>
This 90-page prequel novella does a great job at setting the stage for Avalon — revealing fascinating glimpses of the characters, the world(s), the dynamics, the obstacles, the risks, and the consequences. It’s fantastic, and it made me want more of Jeth’s and the Malleus Shades’ stories. So, in regard to world and character building, Proxy shines. The heist, however, I found a tad oversimplified. (Put plainly, if the emperor’s security is that easy to breach, then he deserves to have his precious ruby stolen.) But even so, the plot has some fun twists and turns, sometimes becoming a bit darker than I anticipated (with some possibly very ominous foreshadowing), which of course, only increases my curiosity. All in all, I found it to be very enjoyable.
And because it’s unavoidable to draw a comparison, for those of you wondering… yes. Yes, this story does have a bit of a Firefly-esque feel to it — the over-arcing theme of family, semi-honorable thieves, an oppressive governing authority, a dangerous and sinister underworld, and an anti-hero hero who operates within the realm of the morally gray. That, and it has the potential to be both great sci-fi and an interesting character ensemble piece.
Overall, with the stage now set and the players in motion, I’m excited to see where Arnett will take Jeth and the Malleus Shades. Considering me eagerly awaiting Avalon.