5 stars. Dead Man’s Debt is the best of Elliott Kay’s Poor Man’s Fight to date, delivering thrilling set-piece battles, tense secret missions, likeable and realistic characters, thoughtful themes, and a setting that invokes comparison to current relations between government, corporation, and individual.
Archangel’s outlook in its war for independence against its corporate debt-holders is grim, and once again, the embattled star system turns to Tanner Malone–this time as diplomat. However, he has is own agenda, thanks to a hunch that everything isn’t as it seems.
Beyond the simple fact that this series is vastly entertaining, its strength remains that its characters are so easily identified with and are very believable. Even minor characters have realistic motivations and actions. While Tanner is definitely the epicenter of the series, I appreciate that others’ contributions do as much or more to advance the plot as he does.
Central to the plot are the moral and ethical themes; this universe is not black-and-white by any means. I suspect that I’ll enjoy this series as much on rereads as I have the first time around, thanks to its depth and thoughtfulness.
This volume seems to conclude the Archangel-at-war story line, mostly satisfactorily but with a couple dangling threads and a couple of too-convenient wrap-ups. Fortunately, Kay has a rich world to draw from for further volumes.
I’m eager for the next installment of what’s quickly becoming one of my favorite sci-fi series. Highly entertaining and thought provoking, Dead Man’s Debt excels at delivering both huge climactic scenes and introspective moments.