Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Last Watch by J. S. Dewes - Book Review

From the publisher: The Expanse meets Game of Thrones in J. S. Dewes's fast-paced, sci-fi adventure The Last Watch, where a handful of soldiers stand between humanity and annihilation.

The Divide.

It’s the edge of the universe.

Now it’s collapsing—and taking everyone and everything with it.

The only ones who can stop it are the Sentinels—the recruits, exiles, and court-martialed dregs of the military.

At the Divide, Adequin Rake commands the Argus. She has no resources, no comms—nothing, except for the soldiers that no one wanted. Her ace in the hole could be Cavalon Mercer--genius, asshole, and exiled prince who nuked his grandfather's genetic facility for “reasons.”

She knows they’re humanity's last chance.

I heard a lot of good things about J.S. Dewes's The Last Watch and when it showed up as a review I option, I jumped at the chance. Just the description alone sounded cool and I was curious to see if the book would live up to the hype. 

Cavalon Mercer, the disgraced grandson of the ruling despot, is sent to join the Legion aboard the SCS Argus, which is stationed on the literal edge of the universe known as the Divide. Adequin Rake is the commanding officer of the Argus, a high ranking officer with commendations and the weight of the universe on her shoulders, both figuratively and literally.
When the crew of the Argus discover that the Divide is beginning to collapse in on the universe, they try to contact Legion HQ but quickly realize they've been abandoned and are on their own to try and prevent the end of everything.

With Mercer and Rake, Dewes has created to engaging point of view characters. At first glance, Mercer seems to be a spoiled member of royalty, with a smart mouth and rebellious attitude toward authority that often get him in trouble. Rake is a by-the-book former Titan who wears the stress and strain of her responsibilities. However, there are many levels and hidden depths to both of these characters that Dewes slowly reveals over the course of the novel. The supporting cast is varied and well written, as well, with Jackin North in particular standing out for me. Hints of an important history surround North as The Last Watch progresses.

The plot of The Last Watch is well structured. There are very few dull moments, but that doesn't mean the rest is all action. There is just constant forward motion, the events and characters consistently moving towards the climax of the book. I was always curious about what was coming next and each chapter built on the previous one in a steady climb toward an unexpected (at least to me) ending. 

I also enjoyed the setting. The Divide is an interesting concept; the edge of the universe that will cause anything it touches to cease to exist is a forbidding backdrop to The Last Watch.Throw in an alien race that humanity had fought for around 1000 years and a corrupt royal family, along with a sense of history in this world, and Dewes has created a very lived-in world. It feels more like the type of world building typical of a fantasy novel. With at least one sequel on the way, I'm looking forward to exploring the world of Mercer and Rake further.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Last Watch by J. S. Dewes. It was an entertaining and absorbing novel with interesting characters. I would recommend it to fans of The Expanse and military sci-fi, maybe even fans of Firefly for the setting. 

I received a preview copy of this book from Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.