The Terran Privateer (Duchy of Terror #1) by Glynn Stewart Book Review

Write on: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 by  in Charles' New Reviews Read 478


THE TERRAN PRIVATEER is the first novel of the DUCHY OF TERRA series by Glynn Stewart. I am already familiar with Glynn Stewart due to the fantastic STARSHIP'S MAGE series. That series was about magicians able to move starships through hyperspace. This is a more grounded series about the idea of Earth making First Contact with an expansionist alien race, only to be swiftly conquered. Which is quite the hook.

The premise is an interesting one. Annette Bond was kicked out of the Earth's Space Navy due to the fact she testified against a highly respected captain who had been implicated in numerous sexual assaults. Entering the private sector under trillionaire Elon Casmir, who I hope is a bit nicer than Elon Musk, she is a test pilot for all of his fantastic new creations. These revolutionize the Earth space navy but not in time to keep Earth from its conquest.

Annette finds herself with an impossible task: raid the shipping of the A!Tol Empire. She is to acquire enough wealth, weapons, and advanced technology while hitting the invaders to eventually be able to liberate Earth. It is an impossible task made harder by the fact the A!Tol are a relatively benign empire doing its best to make sure that Earth assimilates into being part of their society quickly. They make a game effort to avoid antagonizing the public and any collateral damage while Earth's "resistance" vilifies itself by making numerous terrorist attacks.

I really like the moral ambiguity of this book as Glynn Stewart nicely makes an interesting question of what exactly are the compromises you should make in order to live a good life. Earth is prepared to wage a long and difficult resistance against the A!Tol in order to regain its freedom but there's a very good question that it might be pointless as well as counterproductive. However, Annette also finds herself questioning just how many civilian casualties "she" is comfortable with if it means "liberating" her world.

Part of what makes the book effective is that all of these strange moral questions are just background to the fun pirate adventure being told. Annette is either the best or worst pirate in history because her first targets are other pirates and she soon finds herself lucking into numerous quality prizes but that ends in her having deal with the galaxy's underworld. From there, we learn just how bad it can get and what the A!Tol are afraid of.

The pirate sections are really the best part of the book as well as our heroes adapting to "Tortuga." Glynn Stewart is great at world-building since he explains how the economy works, what the most technologically advanced races are, and how the various political factions clash without getting bogged down in exposition. We even understand how pirates launder their cargoes in this setting. It's all fascinating stuff.

It's a very fun and action-filled space opera story that I enjoyed from beginning to end. I think fans of Starship's Mage will enjoy this but so will most fans of science fiction in general. I'm surprised the central premise gets "resolved" so quickly by the end but I won't go into details about that. Suffice to say, I picked up the sequel immediately after. Without spoiling, the series dramatically shifts from piracy to a more traditional space opera/military science fiction Navy story and I'm kind of sad about that.

Available here

Last modified on Saturday, 16 July 2022 02:04
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.