Title: 17 Planets: The Captain
Author: A.R. Alexander
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
17 Planets begins on the planet Bagoha with an urgent summons from General-in-chief Adyfin to his loyal second in command, General Ed Cohen. Adyfin has recently detected some rebel activity on the nearby planet Echuazi, which threatens to undercut Bagoha’s alliance with Echuazi. Cohen, who serves with distinction as the youngest general, promises to marshal his men for a reconnaissance mission to check on Echuazi’s status. As quickly as Cohen and his team arrive, Cohen is captured and threatened with torture. As his fate appears grim, he is saved by the enigmatic and shadowy Captain Lee who is from Alpha One. Lee is aware of the plans, involving Echuazi and the alliance, plotted by the Machiavellian Lord Longaran.
Author A.R. Alexander dives into the action from the outset in this intense and exciting sci-fi fantasy saga. The various alliances are often tenuous at best, as various plots are hatched and schemed. The backstabbing political maneuverings between the various allies and enemies will grab the reader’s attention. The appearance of Captain Elizabeth Lee is one of the first welcome surprises in this book, as her emergence leaves many at a loss for words. Alexander successfully drops a few more throughout the book.
Captain Elizabeth Lee is at the heart of the narrative that encapsulates many galactic leaders and their soldiers. Alexander captures her female lead with a tough exterior, exuding fearlessness while keeping emotional demons buried inside. Readers will like Lee’s take charge demeanor that marks her as a leader. Lee’s ravishing beauty often leads her enemies to disregard her capabilities, often to their lasting regret. General Edward Cohen is the consummate soldier, but he’s imbued with a skeptical nature. He will carry out his orders expeditiously, but only after asking a pointed question or two. The give and take between Lee and Cohen becomes more provocative as events heat up in the world around them.
One of the chief themes throughout the book is power. Lee is determined to thwart the ambitious power play being planned by Lord Longaran. Lee wants to convince other members of the “Alliance” and “Community” to align and take on Longaran and his “Corporation.” However, the other planets are reluctant to cede any of their control to fight Longaran, especially with a woman. Sexism is an underlying theme that runs throughout the book, as well. Captain Lee is viewed by many as a man, her feats not possibly carried out by a woman. Lee disabuses many of this notion in the flesh. The indomitable resolve of Lee in her mission to preserve order in the universe is one of her many winning attributes.
Alexander’s book doesn’t get weighed down by any large weaknesses. However, Captain Lee suffers from an emotional albatross that is referenced, but would benefit from a further fleshing out. Lee possesses such vivacity and spirit, yet she must often operate sub rosa. A chapter which offered a view into her past would further infuse her character.
17 Planets is an entertaining and intelligent sci-fi odyssey with a wide appeal. A.R. Alexander has written a book with a gripping plot, a strong heroine, and a fascinating dynamic between heroine and hero.
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