CAPTAIN MOXLEY AND THE EMBERS OF THE EMPIRE by Dan Hanks.
Angry Robot Books. p/b. £9.99.
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins.
A talented pilot she may be but this time, accompanied by a very green colleague, Captain Samantha Moxley is not facing Naxis but instead a creature that is easily capable of independent flight, is armed with weapons and is very capable of firing them… at her. Still, it’s not the worst danger she’s ever faced and with her training and experience it shouldn’t be the last.
The Hall of Records is a tempting mystery and thanks to the actions of Sam’s ungrateful younger sister and said ungrateful younger sister’s new scholarly and adventurous-ish love interest, Sam finds herself dragged on a dangerous journey to uncover a long-buried and potentially life-if-not-world-altering prize. Ancient relics, old friends, firm enemies and booby traps ahead, Sam does the only thing she can: scoff in the face of fortune and glory and stride full speed ahead towards threat, gunfire and life-threatening discoveries… and their defence mechanisms.
Jess is the sister who has no idea the sacrifices Sam has already made for her, nor any idea what Sam’s next sisterly sacrifice will cost her. Will is Jess’ new flame; the man who believes himself an adventurer but who is really better suited to a research desk. Teddy is the dear old friend Sam hopes will cherish her friendship above his curiosity and desire to uncover the secrets of the Hall of Records. And Agent Taylor? He is the ex Sam expected to resurface one day and whose motives have always been in doubt. The biggest question on Sam’s mind is: do any of them place her before their own desires for knowledge, fortune or glory?
Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire is a fun, fantastical romp through an archaeological adventure that hails and invokes the brilliance of Indiana Jones on more than a few occasions. Sam, clearly heavily inspired by Indy himself, is an endearing heroine – intelligent, capable, strong and straightforward – and her personality is the real winner here. That her supporting cast, the plot and its pace are a good second firmly cement this as one of this summer’s most enjoyable reads.
Hanks offers up a narrative packed with Ancient Egyptian puzzles waiting to be solved, Naxis to be foiled, cherished and trying relationships to be confronted and set aside, all wrapped up in great humour and leaving the promise of more adventures to come. With little more than her resilience and her battered old pilot’s jacket our protagonist faces it all. If you are looking for an easy-reader with hints of the spooky and unbelievable than this is the choice for vou.