Erik Wecks is a good friend of mine. I need to provide full disclosure here because I’m about to review his latest novel and you should be aware of that fact. You should also know he used to write for GeekDad (and is duly missed!). And finally, you should know that this is the New & Improved Gravlander. (I’ll explain shortly.)
With all that disclosure out of the way, here’s the TL;DR version of this review. Loved it. L-O-V-E-D. It. Grab a copy and start reading now. Or, better yet, start with his prequel — Aetna Adrift: The Pax Imperium Wars Book 0 — and then speed through The Far Bank of the Rubicon: The Pax Imperium Wars Book 1. Got it?
Note: My original review of Aetna Adrift is here.
Back in 2014, I encouraged Erik to try an experiment and write a serial story for GeekDad. Over the course of 10 different posts, Erik provided readers with Gravlander, a novella that told the tale of Josephine, a surgeon who finds herself in a most unlikely location, providing medical assistance to a nomadic-like mutant strain of human called the Timcree. The 10-part story was fast and furious, with little time for the goings-on with the Unity Corporation that controls all or with Jo’s friends and colleagues in the Ghost Fleet that is being hunted by Unity.
While the novella was great, Erik wasn’t satisfied with its brevity. Erik writes expansive tales, but not at the expense of ignoring deep character exploration. (Or, for that matter, an entire race — the Timcree.) So Erik took the 10-parter, dove a bit deeper into the 8-month “vacation” Jo took with the Timcree, and then finished the tale. You see, that was one of my biggest gripes with the serial storyline — I enjoyed Erik’s Pax Imperium universe and wanted more of the Timcree. More of a confident Jo. And apparently so did Erik.
I had to re-read the 10-parter, and I’m glad I did. Because it’s allowed me to see the hard work that Erik’s put into upgrading the storyline. And because I can warn you NOT to go back and read it. There are some substantial changes in the storyline; with the serial story, Jo really only had one way to go after her job with the Timcree was done… and the serial story dropped her, in a very jarring way, onto the Bertha Mae. Not so with the new storyline that has Jo taking a much more believable route as “Katy” on the Clarion. And this is at the halfway point of the novel, allowing Erik to provide a novella’s worth of additional plot content that puts Katy/Jo right back into combat with Unity.
It turns out that Erik has two more books in the Pax Imperium Wars storyline, a huge win for his fans. If you’d like to know more about Gravlander and Erik’s Pax Imperium universe, GeekMom writer, Corinna Lawson, has an interview with Erik over at GeekMom. You can read that interview here.
Note: I was provided with a review copy of Gravlander.