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Science Fiction Review: Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

Dark Horse by Michelle Diener 

Egalley thanks to the author

Synopsis from Goodreads
Some secrets carry the weight of the world.

Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she's made a powerful ally--a fellow prisoner with whom she's formed a strong bond. Sazo's an artificial intelligence. He's saved her from captivity and torture, but he's also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.

Captain Dav Jallan doesn't know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he's not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.

She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5's owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn't the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.

In this race for the truth, he's going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.

Amazon kindle US/UK


* * *
Dark Horse was delightful! Like a mild, less insane version of Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst or Last Hour of Gann by R.Lee Smith. The main kick of it all was that Rose McKenzie absolutely kicked ass as a heroine.

In fact, strong female heroines who keep their heads in very tense, stressful situations, who can do some quick creative thinking on the go are a trademark of Michelle's writing. If you want a heroine who will save the day sign up for her book be it fairy tale fantasy, historical fiction or the most recent foray in sci-fi genre.

 Rose is a linguist from Earth enjoying a quiet vacation when she is suddenly abducted by aliens along with few other specimens from her planet for a highly illegal research and some nasty experiments. The book starts three months later when she successfully escapes an alien warship with the help of a sentient system Sazo who took a shine to her and who wanted to organise its own escape.

Her signal is picked up by an explorer ship of another race of aliens who are basically like us but with the pointy ears. So Rose enjoys a surreal Tolkien moment of hysteria. Other differences are: her voice is music to their ears because apparently they are not capable of singing apart from rare few, and every time she sings they all get totally ecstatic and awestruck. Plus she is heavier than them because of differences in gravity which allows her to jump higher and be generally a tad stronger.

Here is the thing, from the beginning Rose is a victim, but she never allows to be treated as such. She is determined to keep her planet destination safe from her rescuers and she is fully aware she would need to make a new life with them. She actively helps with the investigation into her treatment and she tries very hard not to break promises. Rose might be afraid and panicky most of the time, but she is no wilting flower.

 Her romantic involvement with the captain of the ship is a side dish, not the driving force of the plot, which is meaty and dynamic. Overall, this was an excellent read, very enjoyable and fun, and  I highly recommend it even to light sci-fi readers. It's very easy on the eyes without feeling like it's something written for a complete noobie. Read it!

* * *
 Тёмная Лошадка была очаровательной книжкой! Она напомнила мне творчество Андреи К. Хёст и Р. Ли Смит, но в более мягком, менее яростном стиле. И благодарить за это надо саму главную героиню -  Роуз МакКензи, которая рулит на протяжение всей книги.

 На самом деле, если вам нужна сильная героиня, не теряющая головы в напряжённых ситуациях, смекалистая, рассудительная и умеющая найти юмор в любой ситуации, вы всегда найдёте её в книгах Мишель Дьенэ, будь то сказочное фэнтэзи, исторический роман или её последняя проба пера в научной фантастике.

Роуз -лингвист с планеты Земля, наслаждающаяся тихим отпуском когда она внезапно похищена инопланетными существами вместе с остальными экземплярами её планеты и последующие три месяца она подвергается всяческим мучительным экспериментам, пока ей не удаётся сбежать при помощи думающей системы Сазо, который хочет, сбежать с корабля вместе с ней. Сама книга как раз и начинается с их побега.

Их сигнал перехвачен исследовательским судном ещё одной расы инопланетян, и Роуз принята на борт, где капитан корабля начинает расследование в то, что с ней произошло так как это чрезвычайно нелегальный акт во вселенной и карается законом довольно жестоко.

Роуз - жертва преступления и в то же время делает всё возможное, чтобы перебороть этот ярлык. Она отказывается сообщить её спасителям данные своей планеты, предпочитая остаться в этой вселенной и начать новую жизнь. Она пытается принимать морально верные решения, несмотря на свои страхи и постоянную панику. 
Некоторые из её отличий от инопланетян вызывают улыбку - из-за различий в силе притяжения, Роуз тяжелее их, что позволяет ей быть сильнее и высоко прыгать; по сравнению с ними у неё музыкальный голос. В этой расе певцы рождаются редко и музыка просто обожествляется. Её романтическая связь с капитаном - это не ведущая сила сюжета, а одна из второстепенных линий. Сам сюжет мясист и динамичен, и Тёмная Лошадка читается очень легко и с большим удовольствием.

Очень советую, особенно новичкам жанра.

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