On the Imperium’s Secret Service is the first book in the Imperium Cicernus series and it proved to be quite an interesting space opera. I had the audiobook version and in my opinion, the narrator did a great job and made the book much easier to listen to.
We jump into the story with Mariko and her sister May, stuck in prison, awaiting an auction to see who will be the highest bidder and their future owner. They happen to be in this prison because Mariko refused the forceful advances from the son of a powerful man–with her knee. The only reason they haven’t had rougher treatment at the hands of the guards is because that same son is expected to win the bidding and he has ‘plans’ for them.
When it appears that Mariko has finally pissed the guards off enough to tempt the anger of the spoiled rich kid, a new player shows up. Fitz, by all appearances, is a rich fop with more money than sense. He has bought both girls because he needs a pilot and both of them are pilots without a ship. Everything they owned was confiscated to be sold to ‘pay their debts’.
The first hint that Fitz isn’t what he seems is the name of his ship. The Bruce Wayne. One of the first places they go after leaving their confinement is the planet of Tough. It’s a world renowned for the hunting of very dangerous animals. All the animals are creations of a mad scientist, most with a dangerous level of intelligence and viciousness. It’s a playground for the rich.
Mariko follows Fitz one night out into the jungle and learns that he has a few secrets, one of which is that he is a lot more than he seems. As the title suggests, he’s an agent with the Imperium’s Secret Service and he’s on the trail of a conspiracy that could bring the Imperium crashing down.
This was a decent book but I think it could have been better. It mostly read along the lines of a cozy where the main characters are the heroes and thus immune from many things. But every now and then it tried to be gritty and hard–this back and forth made the book feel very unbalanced to me.
Another problem was May, the younger sister. I think she had the potential to be an excellent character contributing to the story but she was mostly kept in the background and brought out for the couple times she was needed to save the day. Despite all that, I still enjoyed the book and it was a feel-good-brain-candy story. I also plan on trying the next book in the series just to see what happens next.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Audible.com. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.