Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“He’d shown them. His crew, the other racers, everyone. Raith was back.”
After reading this author’s first novel, First Of Their Kind, and absolutely loving it, I was very excited to hear about another book set in the same universe! Even though it’s a standalone novel, it’s also the sequel to First Of Their Kind too, which sold it for me straight away. This book was so fun to read whilst also staying true to the Sci-Fi genre, and I absolutely loved it! It had enough suspense, action and character to really stick in my mind, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first novel in this series. Writing another smashing review for this one was just easy!
A synthetic intelligence down on his luck, Raith loves to race. When given the chance to participate in a hyper-experimental faster-than-light space race, he welcomes the opportunity with open arms. He may have received more than he bargained for, though, as corporations and shadowy collectives fight over the technology making the race possible. If Raith is to survive—to win—he’ll need the help of his new crew . . . and new friends. Together, can they defeat the hundreds of other racers all vying to be crowned champion of the first Five-Hundred Light-Year Classic?
The book begins mid-way through a fast-paced space race, (bit of a tongue twister for you there) with an abundance of energy, suspense and a S.I with a bit of an attitude! Straight away, I recognised this writing style from the last book I read from this author, and instantly became excited once again for what I was going to experience in this particular book. The start of the story does such a great job of drawing you in and giving you all the Sci-Fi goodness you’d expect in a memorable way. I was easily hooked and eager to learn more about the race, as well as to get to know Raith a little more – a seemingly super cool synthetic intelligence with an extraordinarily bright mind. Definitely the best type of character to create from scratch!
After the race, the book took a very unexpected turn, but it was really well received. Raith has suffered from twenty years of imprisonment from fraud, embezzlement and his actions on that race course, but now freedom calls his name. A blank canvas and a new start is exactly what he needs right about now. Soon after a brief bar fight, Raith meets a woman with an attractive proposition; the ability to race again. After listening to Olive’s offer enabling him to test out some new experimental technology, the reality of him being able to compete in the Five-Hundred Light-year Classic race sets in. The offer that he was certainly going to refuse suddenly becomes much more tempting to him. An awesome new ship and and a new race? This sounded exciting as hell!
Tavenor has done it yet again and created a story with so much depth and enjoyment for any Sci-Fi fanatic to get excited about! Creating a whole new world for a series of novels can’t be easy in the slightest, but the author has perfected this in every way I had hoped. Even from a few chapters in, I loved the story and was so invested in Raith’s character. I wanted to witness him race again and experience this new technology which sounded so so good. Hearing more about how the new ship worked and how it looked blew my mind. Raith soon begins his training for the race in order to be in the best shape possible, but is quickly interrupted by an enemy attack. The description of this mini battle was so intense, almost beautiful in a way, and it was so easy to envisage. It was turning out to be quite an unforgettable opening to the story!
“If you lose, it’ll be because you’re dead. Because if you survive the race in this ship, you’ll win.”
After all the excitement, Raith is introduced to his new team who would accompany him on his mission. There was a real good mix of characters and personalities here which I liked – I’ve always admired Tavenor’s characters, and he did not disappoint in this book either! Raith soon finds out that Olive wasn’t the only person to select him for the job – finding out some information has been withheld from him makes him a little concerned, but he soon becomes civil with his new group of crew mates. The opening to the story was truly wonderful and exciting, and I was so looking forward to seeing how it progressed. Would Raith be able to race again successfully or will something bigger than him get in his way?
Raith soon takes the ship for a practice course test run, and we’re met with more extraordinary description once again. Not only are Raith’s surroundings so unique and awe-inspiring, but witnessing him in racing mode and seeing how happy he is doing what he loves was so pleasant to read. He’s filled with adrenaline, and you can easily sense that racing was what he was born (or made) to do. Even though he didn’t get off on the right foot with his crew mates, they let him have a little fun and the group eventually begin to communicate more effectively, which would be crucial for when racing time came around!
The buzz around Raith’s return and the fact that this long lost racing celebrity was back sent reporters and crowds into a frenzy. You can tell he does rather enjoy the attention in a way – he wants to be known for being the best and the fastest, and don’t his competitors know it! He meets many of them along the way, each trying their best to belittle him and steer his concentration away from the prize. I liked how he always seemed to keep his cool, even though some of their comments stayed in the back of his mind. I specifically liked the point in the book where Raith and his crew find some common ground. He takes a closer look at them and realises that he is much more like them than he first thought. Speaking with them instead of shutting them out helped a lot, and I feel like they built a special bond in this time.
After a disappointing qualifying race, Raith was more determined than ever to succeed. Carter, a fellow racer and someone he’d started to befriend, flew straight into first place with such an admirable run around the course. Raith begins to put his trust into his team and finally gains the courage to let them help him in his practice simulation flights, which really shows how he grows and heals from his past. These additional topics really add to the story and creates much more depth in Raith’s character. We can easily understand his motives and just how difficult it must be to trust a new team again. With little time to go until the start of the main race, I was hoping Raith and his team would be ready to make up lost time, overtake all his competitors and win the race. I felt like I was going to watch a real race with how hyped up I was about this!
“I see the entire universe. Everything. I’m alive, like never before. I’m home.”
With four hundred and seventy four pilots in front of him, Raith begins the race. He shows off what he’s good at but also faces some problems along the way, which is to be expected with such competitive racers. The journey of the course over time was so intense and again, we see some exceptional descriptive sentences which really make us feel like we’re right there in the race with him. We keep up to date with his main competition and the journey was a real on-the-edge-of-your-seat reading experience. Could Raith catch up with Carter in time? Would he be able to leave Eduardo and Vanaka in the dust? What would the consequences be if he went against her wishes? I was sooo excited for the ending!
Raith finds out the race is rigged and he toys with the idea of taking matters into his own hands if he is to succeed, no matter what the rest of the team thinks. However, after a brief chat with Carter, he gains some valuable information about how people want him reinstated when everything is over. With the help of his team and their precise calculations, Raith jumps up a few positions in the race, not only getting closer to first place, but also annoying those competitors in the process! I had a feeling they might try and get revenge as the finish line drew nearer, and the ending of the book was proving to be so exciting with such a great competitive edge. It wasn’t long before my suspicions were correct…
Two members of the crew go missing and as the months go by, the chance of finding them again looks slim. Vanaka eventually sends a cryptic message to Raith giving him hope to their whereabouts. However, it was obvious she was a part of their disappearance – I’d had my eye on this character for a while as she seemed very sneaky. The story turns very dark quite quickly and what happened next was so unexpected it made me hold my breath! We see a shocking reveal, a very angry S.I, but also a team who are willing to do all it takes to pull themselves together and win the race. I loved their spirit, even if it was in times of sadness.
Throughout the final few laps of the race, Raith has a realisation of the bigger picture and just what his purpose is in the grand scheme of things. It made me think a little too. Reading any sort of Sci-Fi book set in space makes me realise just how small and insignificant we are as humans in such an endless void. I didn’t have too long to dwell on this however, as there is suddenly a disastrous event which causes some fatal incidents among the racers. When Raith spots Carter’s ship, my heart sank – was he too late? Had he lost his friend for good? Raith acts the hero and risks losing it all, even his race victory, to save Carter’s life, which was so heartwarming to read. Their relationship over time has really developed in a positive way.
“Theren may hold power, but he doesn’t hold a candle to our new foe.”
Tavenor has crafted a perfect ending to the book which filled me with so many emotions. It was definitely not the ending I’d been expecting, which is what made it truly remarkable in my eyes! It’s filled with sadness, but also with hope as Raith reflects on his life journey. The author has done an amazing job to ensure that questions the reader has aren’t all answered at this point, and that we can explore more of Raith’s journey in the next book in the series. I really enjoyed this book and any Sci-Fi lover will too – five stars from me!
Tavenor really hasn’t disappointed with this book – I couldn’t fault it! My experience with the author has made me realise that he really is the master of Sci-Fi, and each book just gets better and better. His deep knowledge of the genre as well as synthetic intelligence shows in his writing, and every page is filled with immense detail that fills your imagination and inner-nerd with joy. This book captivated me from start to finish and I know that the next book in the series will be just as good! I loved Raith’s character so much – even though he appears tough and determined on the outside, we see a completely different side to him as the story progresses, and this combined with yet another fun, solid story line made the book very difficult to put down. I can’t wait to continue Raith’s adventure!
A huge thanks to C.D. Tavenor for the copy of this book, and I wish you all the luck in the world for its release on May 25th! You can pre-order Flight Of The 500 today on Amazon. Make sure you’re following the author over on Twitter and Instagram for updates!
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