Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Factions: The Guardians of Gaea and the Sol Society

Detailed below are two more factions for use in a space fantasy (or more traditional) RPG campaign.


Guardians of Gaea
More a loose band of confederates than a group with any real structure, the Guardians of Gaea are those individuals who choose to protect Homeworld—the planet itself, and not any of the political entities upon it—from artificial harm. In that they make an important distinction; while natural disasters are acceptable, since they heed the will of nature, those calamities brought on by people's efforts must be prevented. Examples of the latter include sabotaging logging operations in ancient forests, defending a sacred mountain against invasive mining, thwarting excessive hunting practices, and the like. As such, it boasts numerous rangers and druids among its members, especially humans and halflings; less common are barbarians, dwarves and elves.

Goal: Protection, Cultivation
Ensuring that Homeworld—the Earth Mother—will always bear enough fruit to feed her children is the ultimate goal of this group. In addition to defending pristine locations in a firm but compassionate manner, the group also works to preserve animal and plant types that are threatened.

Alignment: NG
While they are committed to protecting their Earth Mother, the Guardians of Gaea are generally non-violent and seek to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. They are not so concerned about the laws of the lands in which they work, because those laws are sometimes made by individuals who are motivated more by power and wealth than by preservation.

Unlike many other organizations, the Guardians of Gaea do not have a single reigning leader. Instead, their members make decisions through debate and then vote of all who are present.

Just as they lack a single leader, the Guardians also do not have permanent bases of operations. Instead they move about in nomadic encampments, forming temporary tent towns or, when conditions permit, living directly in nature's embrace. When it becomes necessary for members to meet in the city, they prefer to use garden space for doing so. 

An example of this is the meditative garden, an element favored by a number of eastern cultures. It consists of a walled enclosure that contains a carefully maintained orchard and garden. Usually there is a pond in the center, surrounded by various trees, shrubberies, flowers and other plants. Lining the exterior wall are a number of small, simple buildings that boast numerous windows, albeit ones that can be sealed with shutters during inclement weather. Such gardens provide a large, open space for full-group gatherings, as well as smaller, more intimate areas for private business.

Using the Organization in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • This group sometimes comes into conflict with the elves of the Royal Navy, since most of that body's members revere the Moon Goddess instead of the Earth Mother. While some elves look down upon others who mingle with humans, halflings and dwarves, others are more accepting—especially when seeking aid in outfitting an arkship for a voyage to another world.
  • The same bias exists in many dwarves, who tend to favor the Universal Architect. Even so, the rare dwarves who espouse faith in the Earth Mother usually prove through their skill at working metal that their beliefs are not misguided. Such exceptional individuals are much more likely to be female than to be male.
  • Recently a controversy has arisen when certain members of this group—along with adherents to the Sol Society—became involved with the Navigators, a group of scholars whose beliefs some consider to be scandalously licentious.

Sol Society
Believing that much evil happens in the dark of night, members of this organization seek to shine the Sun God's light into every corner of the Universe. Indeed, they maintain that the Light of Truth (as they see it) can bring enlightenment and thus happiness to all places. It should come as no surprise that clerics and paladins make up most of this group's members. Additionally, many lay people pledge their loyalty to this group. Finally—although it is not widely known—a growing contingent of sorcerers threatens to pollute the purity of the Society's mission, as detailed below.

Goal: Illumination, Protection and Punishment
Spreading the Sun God's teachings and the spiritual light that they bring is the foremost mission of the Order. A close second to that is protecting the faithful, follow by bringing to justice those who do harm to his followers.

Alignment: LG
In theory, members of the Society seek to promote justice and well-being for all. In practice, however, this zeal can sometimes lead to a sense of self-righteousness that borders on intolerance for, and even persecution of, those who profess other beliefs.

Sir Cyrus is the elected leader of the group, a paladin of the Sun God who has earned the respect of his peers through wise judgment, fair dealing and bravery in battle. He divides his time between the local Church of Sol and pilgrimages into the desert, where he fasts and atones.

Some might be surprised by the fact that this group's headquarters in any given city is a simple, modest affair, generally a church building consisting of a few rooms and built of wood, brick or stone. Those who are familiar with the organization, of course, recognize that anything more ostentatious would embrace vanity rather than altruism. 

Said church usually boasts a broad entry area (1)—in this case, with two sets of double doors opening into it—that has a spiral staircase leading up to the bell tower. Many pegs line the walls of this room, providing a place for visitors to hang their cloaks. More double doors lead from there into the main sanctuary (2), which is filled with orderly rows of benches for the congregants. There is also a raised pulpit in the front of it. Beyond that room is a rear vestibule (3), which itself leads into a storage room (4) and the presiding priest's office (5). 

Using the Organization in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • It almost goes without saying that the Cult of the Void is one of the Sol Society's staunch enemies, and these followers of the Sun God generally seek to expose and even eliminate those who worship the Space Between the Stars.
  • As mentioned previously, some of this group's adherents are also involved with the Navigators, an association of which the rank-and-file leadership does not approve.
  • Worshipers of Sol sometimes experience conflict with elves and others who revere the Moon Goddess, whom the elves see as striking a balance between the Earth Mother and Sun God—and thus being superior to a faith that lacks such balance. For their part, members of the Sol Society don't approve of Luna's association with the darkness of the night.
  • Given the righteous zeal of this group's members, they are not on good terms with members of the Freebooters' Fellowship.
  • As mentioned above, a number of sorcerers have recently taken interest in the organization. While some might be faithful who share the group's beliefs, others are thought to be zealots who associate the cleansing power of fire with the Sun God's light, and who are more interested in building up their own power than in doing good works. Indeed, some even suspect that one or more efreet might be behind this infiltration of the Society.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Elf Arkship Crew

Detailed below are statblocks for the typcial arkship crew.

Elf Arkship


Arkship Crew
Refer to the stat blocks below to find details about a particular elven crew—usually a number of elf druids who command the expedition. Additionally, the elves often recruit one or more unicorns to make the journey, since their wild empathy ability helps the elves keep the peace aboard the arkship.

Unicorns: Refer to page 269 of the Pathfinder Bestiary.

Ordinarily, elves only stock their arkships with ordinary animals—that is, ones with the animal type. At the GM's discretion, however, they might include other, magical beasts brought aboard for some extraordinary purpose.

Elf Druid
CR ½
XP 200
Various elf druid 1
NG medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Perception +8; Low-light vision
AC 16, touch 12, flat-footed 14 (+4 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 8 (1d8)
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +4
Resist Elven immunities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +0 (1d6)
Ranged Sling +2 (1d4)
Special Attacks None
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 14
Base Atk +0; CMB +0; CMD 12
Feats Animal Affinity
Skills Handle Animal +8, Heal +6, Knowledge (nature) +6, Perception +8, Survival +8
Languages Elven, Common, Druidic
SQ Elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, weapon familiarity, nature bond, nature sense, orisons, wild empathy
Combat Gear Hide armor, quarterstaff, sling with 10 bullets, healer's kit
Spells per Day: 3/2
Spells Prepared: Create water, mending, stabilize; speak with animals

While some dismiss the elf druids as aloof, overzealous nature lovers, others respect their deep affinity for the natural world and their dedication to preserving it. Although they tend to be dispassionate when dealing with sentient beings, the druids can be very dangerous when pushed to defend the plants and animals in their care.

Owl Companion
Small animal
Init +2; Senses Perception +6; Low-light vision
AC 14, touch 13, flat-footed 12 (+1 natural, +2 Dex, +1 size)
hp 11 (2d8+2)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +2
Resist None
Spd 10 ft., fly 80 ft. (average)
Melee Bite +2 (1d4), 2 talons +2 (1d4)
Special Attacks None
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6
Base Atk +1; CMB +0; CMD 13
Feats Alertness
Skills Perception +6
Languages None
SQ Link, share spells, bonus trick (fetch)

Many of the elf druids favor owls as animal companions because the birds can be used to deliver messages to others aboard the arkship.

Elf Druid Leader
CR 6
XP 2400
Female elf druid 7
NG medium humanoid
Init +2; Senses Perception +14; Low-light vision
AC 17, touch 13, flat-footed 15 (+5 armor, +2 Dex)
hp 35 (7d8)
Fort +5, Ref +5, Will +8
Resist Elven immunities
Spd 30 ft.
Melee Quarterstaff +6 (1d6+1)
Ranged Sling +7 (1d4)
Special Attacks None
Str 10, Dex 14, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 14
Base Atk +5; CMB +5; CMD 17
Feats Animal Affinity
Skills Handle Animal +14, Heal +12, Knowledge (nature) +12, Perception +14, Survival +14
Languages Elven, Common, Druidic
SQ Elven immunities, elven magic, keen senses, weapon familiarity, nature bond, nature sense, orisons, wild empathy, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature's lure, wild shape 2/day
Combat Gear Hide armor +1, quarterstaff +1, sling with 10 bullets, masterwork healer's kit, scroll of flame strike (for use in only the most dire of emergencies)
Spells per Day: 4/5/4/3/1
Spells Prepared: Create water, guidance, mending, stabilize; calm animals, cure light wounds, hide from animals, magic stone, speak with animals; barkskin, hold animal, lesser restoration, owl's wisdom; cure moderate wounds, dominate animal, neutralize poison; cure serious wounds

While male leaders are not uncommon, it is the women who are more frequently chosen to lead the druids aboard and arkship because of their ability to bond with a unicorn. In this way, both beings then work to maintain the harmony aboard the ship, helping to make sure that the balance of natural life doesn't tip too far in any given direction.

Owl Companion
Small animal
Init +3; Senses Perception +11; Low-light vision
AC 20, touch 15, flat-footed 16 (+5 natural, +3 Dex, +1 size, +1 dodge)
hp 33 (6d8+6)
Fort +6, Ref +7, Will +4
Resist None
Spd 10 ft., fly 80 ft. (average)
Melee Bite +5 (1d4+1), 2 talons +5 (1d4+1)
Special Attacks None
Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 2, Wis 14, Cha 6
Base Atk +4; CMB +1; CMD 13
Feats Alertness, Dodge, Skill Focus (Perception)
Skills Perception +11
Languages None
SQ Link, share spells, bonus trick (fetch), evasion, ability score increase, devotion

Life aboard an Elf Arkship
To some, the idea of living and working aboard an elf arkship is idyllic. After all, the vessels are filled with lush plants and animals more well-behaved than is typical. Although the work can be hard, it is also quite fulfilling. To others, it might seem tedious and uneventful. Only those who've undertaken this challenge recognize that the truth lies somewhere in between those two extremes—and that it can also be filled with danger, depending on the circumstances of the voyage.

Daily Routines
For the most part, life aboard the arkship consists of arbitrating conflicts between different animals, making sure that all of them have adequate food, tending to any injuries they might have suffered, and cleaning out the arkship when needed. That is why the previously presented stat blocks feature spell selections oriented toward those tasks. During a long interstellar voyage, the druids spend most of their time engaged in such tasks. 

Throughout all of this, the druids maintain the same religious observations that they would back on Homeworld. These include the full moons, during which they harvest mistletoe for use in rituals, along with the solstices and equinoxes that govern times for planting and sowing by the fluctuations in the seasons. 

There are two additional considerations to keep in mind, however. First, the arkship is almost always accompanied by a galleon of the Elven Royal Navy. This means that the druids can, if they wish, take a longboat over to the galleon for a change of scenery. Second, said galleon usually tows the aforementioned interstellar portal, allowing individuals to pass through it and back to their home planet.

Defensive Measures
Should the arkship suffer an attack, the druids can muster some impressive defenses. Most notably they use their summon nature's ally spells to rally a variety of animals in battle. More powerful druids have access to other spells, too, such as call lightning and flame strike. This is especially the case when they have forewarning about danger and thus can prepare their spells accordingly.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Elf Arkship

A previous article presented the interstellar portal, a device that can be towed behind an aethership to facilitate travel between the stars. Detailed here is the vessel that the elves generally use for towing it, the arkship. 

To look at the interstellar portal, please check out this link. 


Elf Arkship

This huge aethership is some 250 feet in length and 70 in width. Rather than having numerous cabins and compartments of predetermined sizes, it provides an open, modular structure that allows captains and crews to customize the layout based on the combination of passengers and cargo that they're carrying. This is especially important when they are loaded with various plants and animals, helping to establish settlements on far-flung alien worlds. 

Upper Deck
The arkship's upper deck is a broad, open space. It boasts three masts—mizzen, main and fore. Spaced across the deck are four ten-foot-by-ten-foot cargo hatches that provide access to the lower deck. There are also four ladderwells for crew members to use. Both fore and aft the ship's keel projects upward, in a manner similar to a Viking longship. 

This deck is most commonly loaded with planter boxes containing all manner of trees, shrubs and other such greenery. Note that arkships don't usually carry armaments, but rather are accompanied by elven galleons for protection during their interstellar voyages. They do generally carry one or two aetherial longboats that they can use for shuttling crew members back and forth between the escort vessel as well as the interstellar portal, thereby allowing them to visit friends and family who've stayed back home. 

Lower Deck
Only slightly narrower and shorter than the upper deck, this level also features a series of support struts to which additional bulkheads can be attacked if there is need to compartmentalize the hold. In this way the lower deck is often divided into pens for different types of animals, along with sections that are filled with barrels, crates and other containers. Some crew members string up hammocks on this level, while others sleep in the open amidst the plant life on the upper deck. 

Type of Ship
Solar Vessel
Flying Sails
Wind Cordage
Orb of Control
Elf Arkship
250,000 gp
125,000 gp
125,000 gp
62,500 gp
562,500 gp

Elf Arkship
Colossal aetherial vehicle
Squares 350 (70 ft. by 125 ft.); Cost 225,000 gp
AC 2; Hardness 5
hp 5250 (2625)
Base Save +0
Maximum Speed 180 ft. (magical); Acceleration 30 ft. (magical)
CMB +12; CMD 15
Ramming Damage 15d8
This massive aethership can carry 1500 tons of cargo in addition to its normal crew complement.

Propulsion magic (three masts, 60 squares of sails, hp 300)

Driving Check Profession (pilot) +10 to the DC

Forward Facing the ship's forward

Driving Device orb of control

Driving Space the square or squares occupied by the pilot with the orb of control

Crew 20 (not including weapons crews)

Decks 2

Weapons Typically, none.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Factions: The Royal Interplanetary Company and the Order of the Lion

This post rounds out two more factions that were previously introduced as part of the Crossroads asteroid colony.


Royal Interplanetary Company
While many of Homeworld's inhabitants remain blissfully unaware of life beyond their own planet, some few not only know about those possibilities but actively work to exploit them. A good example of this is the Royal Interplanetary Company, a group founded with funding from investors and approval from the local sovereign. Its members stand to turn a considerable profit, or lose all of their money, depending on the intrepid captains and crews who conduct their business.

Goal: Colonization, Trade and Profit
This group's goals focus on creating new settlements throughout Known Space, providing them with the goods they need to survive and thrive, and exploiting the inherent wealth of those worlds—eventually passing on a considerable profit to the investors as well as the sovereign.

Alignment: LN
Since law and order makes for an easier distribution of profits, members of this organization generally support the powers that be. There are occasional exceptions, however; such individuals exploit the existing legal system for their own gain. Sometimes that means bending the law, and sometimes it means blatantly breaking it.

The Company, as it is known to its members, is ostensibly controlled by King Edmund III, insofar as he can overrule any decisions made by the merchant captains. Even so, in practice those captains have tremendous autonomy, and the fact that they serve on far-flung planets and moons means that it can take a long time for the king to learn of their activities.

King Edmund III oversees operations, of course, from his royal palace on Homeworld. Individual captains have their own homes, ranging from small but comfortable affairs in remote colonies to grand and opulent mansions in more civilized and cosmopolitan locations. Refer to the description of Reda Manor in the Crossroads Asteroid Colony for an example of one Company base of operations. 

Using the Royal Interplanetary Company in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • At the start of a campaign, the PCs could easily be part of a crew on a ship operated by the R.I.C.; as such, they would take orders from a Company captain and help protect the vessel against pirates and other hazards.
  • Those who amass some wealth and are interested in such activities could pursue their own captaincy, thereby becoming involved in the Company's politics.
  • Members and/or employees could be involved in exploring strange new worlds and meeting new cultures—all in the hope of discovering valuable resources and fostering trade with new markets, of course.
  • Business could require interaction with numerous rivals, including the Royal Elven Navy, the Dwarven Mining Guild, the Church of Ptah, etc.
  • Scandal erupts when it is revealed that some of the Company's captains have been involved in smuggling and, even worse, slave-trading. The PCs could be recruited to help discover the culprits and bring them to justice, or could partake in these illegal but lucrative activities.

Order of the Lion
Although this organization began as an order of knights based strictly on Homeworld, they have been charged by the King with protecting members of the Royal Interplanetary Company and their business interests. To that end, they are now commonplace aboard R.I.C. vessels as well as in settlements where they have warehouses.

Goal: Protection
Given their mandate, the sole focus for knights of this order is to protecting the personnel and material holdings of the Royal Interplanetary Company. By serving aboard R.I.C. vessels, they sometimes become involved in exploration and diplomacy as well.

Alignment: LN
These knights take promotion of law and order to an extreme, following the commands of their King as if they are gospel.

Archduke Sigmund is the chief knight of the Order; he resides at the palace of King Edmund III on Homeworld.

Rather than having their own bases of operations, these knights are stationed in R.I.C facilities. Refer to the description of the R.I.C. warehouse on Crossroads to find stats for knights of this Order and their commander. 

Using the Order of the Lion in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • One or more of the PCs could, of course, be members of this organization and thus receive their marching orders from a higher-up in it; as such, they could become involved in any of the plots suggested previously for the R.I.C.
  • The Order is fond of holding parades, along with jousts and other tournaments—ostensibly, to help members hone their prowess, but in fact because some members enjoy the pageantry and spectacle of it all.
  • When scandal erupts in the R.I.C., the PC(s) could have to decide between being loyal and doing what is right.
  • This organization also provides the muscle for the R.I.C., acting as enforcers for those who run afoul of the Company.

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Festival of the Comet

This post presents a celebration that occurs annually in the Crossroads asteroid colony. It provides some fun non-combat challenges for the PCs, along with a good means for introducing them to new NPCs and potential plot hooks.


The Festival of the Comet
Every year a particular comet returns to the area, even passing through the asteroid belt. Using that as an excuse for festivities, the locals stage various competitions, festivities and other entertainments.

The Competitions
Refer to the chart below for some idea of what takes place and who is involved during the first day's events. Assuming that certain PCs will only participate in one or two competitions, the GM may want to have players control some of the competitors in order to keep them involved in the activities. Note also the magical enhancement is not allowed.

Tengu sailor
Captain Corwyn
Five attack rolls against AC 15, with one point for hitting the target and an extra point for every five by which the attack roll exceeds that AC.
Armed Combat
Captain Cyrus
Lieutenant Vanderwald
Standard combat against each other, but only doing non-lethal damage.
Unarmed Combat
Orc first mate
Standard combat against each other, but only doing non-lethal damage or using combat maneuvers.
Orc crewman
Tengu crewman
A series of checks: Initiative; Dexterity, Constitution, Strength; Dexterity, Constitution, Strength (to simulate circling the asteroid and ascending its tiers) all at DC 10, with -2 penalty for speed 20 and +2 bonus for speed 40. One point for each success, +1 for every five in excess.
Artistic Performance
Dockworker (!)
Cargo inspector
Ella Song
Two Perform checks, with a score equal to their combined totals. (The GM can apply circumstance bonuses or penalties based on good or bad roleplaying.)

There could be other events, of course, especially if one of the PCs has an unusual talent that could be showcased via a competition. 

After each of the competitions there is an elaborate awards ceremony in which Luciano Reda presents each winner with a cash prize of 100 gp and a crown of olive leaves; for the duration of the festival, anyone wearing such a crown receives a +2 equipment bonus to Charisma checks and checks for Charisma-based skills.

The Asteroid Belt Race
The next day, the most highly anticipated event takes place—a race in aetherships through the asteroid belt. This time the competitors are as follow.
  • Captain Corwyn and her crew aboard her galleon, the Sylvana.
  • The tengu crew in their bark, the Skylark.
  • Captain Cyrus and his orcs aboard their modified merchantman, the Abattoir.
  • Lieutenant Vanderwald aboard an R.I.C. merchantman, the Opportunity.
  • The PCs in their own ship, assuming that they are interested.
Here again, the GM might want to have other players (whoever isn't controlling the captain of the PCs' ship) make rolls for the competitors.
Refer to the GameMastery Guide for more detailed rules regarding chases; this one uses the following obstacles. All of the ships start with their sails furled, but with crews in position for action. The winners are the first captain and crew that can fly across to the asteroid belt, through the tumbling rocks to the comet, recover a piece of comet ice, and then return to the Crossroads docks. In game terms, this requires passing all of the obstacles, with the points system used as a tiebreaker.

At the Ready: Initiative rolls for all the captains involved, with one point awarded for every full five in the result.

Setting Sail: DC 5 Profession (sailor) checks to set the ships' sails, with one point for success and one for every five beyond that.

Open Space: Spellcraft or Use Magic Device checks to push forward through an open stretch.

Claiming the Prize: DC 10 Spellcraft or U.M.D. checks to pull alongside the comet;* DC 15 Strength check to load aboard a piece of comet ice.

Into the Thick of Things: DC 15 Spellcraft or U.M.D. checks* to weave through the first small asteroids, assisted by the crew's DC 15 Profession (sailor) check.

On the Edge: DC 10 Spellcraft or U.M.D. checks* to weave through the first small asteroids, assisted by the crew's DC 10 Profession (sailor) check.

Out of the Thick of Things: DC 15 Spellcraft or U.M.D. checks* to weave through the first small asteroids, assisted by the crew's DC 15 Profession (sailor) check.

Past the Edge: DC 10 Spellcraft or U.M.D. checks* to weave through the first small asteroids, assisted by the crew's DC 10 Profession (sailor) check.

Open Space, Again: Spellcraft or Use Magic Device checks to push forward through an open stretch.

Note that, for all of the checks marked with an asterisk (*), failure to meet the required DC means that the ship suffers a collision. This causes the vessel to suffer its base ramming damage—that is, 7d8 for a dhow, 8d8 for a bark, 9d8 for a junk and 10d8 for a merchantman or a galleon. Note that, since the competitors need to pass one obstacle before advancing to the next, the damage can accumulate quickly. This race is not, after all, for the faint-hearted. 

As always, the GM can assign bonuses or penalties to these checks based on clever ideas that the PCs have. 

The winner(s) of this race split a purse of 1000 gp, and are also presented with olive-leaf crowns as noted above. 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Odds and Ends

This post includes a miscellany of items and updates.

First is a Pathfinder conversion for a magical item that I originally created for Skull & Bones, the Bloody Banner.

New Magical Item: The Bloody Banner
Aura strong conjuration; CL 15th
Slot NA; Price NA (not available for sale); Weight 2 lbs.
This ensign, which once was a flag of truce, has long since been stained into solid if blotchy red with the blood shed by enemy crews slain by those who flew it. Indeed, it has now been fused with bloodlust and gore, creating a source of violence and vigor that fuels those who fly it on their vessels.
In game terms, those who serve aboard a vessel flying the bloody banner gain a +2 circumstance bonus to damage, as well as fast healing 1. In order to maintain these benefits, the members of said crew must bathe it once a month in the blood of enemies whom they've slain in battle.
Requirements Craft Wondrous Item, regeneration; Cost NA (not available for sale)

Next, I've added plot hooks for use with the Sentient Nebula (see link).

Sentient Nebula

Finally, I've added more titles to my reviews of the Spelljammer novels and comics.

Spelljammer Reviews


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Arabella of Mars Review

Here's a review of the fairly recently published Arabella of Mars.


Arabella of Mars Review
I noticed this book at Barnes & Noble last summer when I'd stopped in to pick up the newest Star Wars novel. At the time I was intrigued, but decided to wait and check it out from the library.

I shouldn't have waited.

I loved this book.

In fact, it was the kind of book that I didn't want to read too quickly, because I didn't want it to end any sooner than necessary.

The introduction from inside the book jacket does a good job of explaining the basic premise of the novel; the titular Arabella disguises herself as a boy and goes aboard a company vessel bound for Mars. That's not a very new idea, when it comes to nautical fiction, but David Levine does an excellent job of developing what happens to her once she is on board.

  • I really like the characters in this book especially young miss Arabella Ashby and Captain Prakash Singh.
  • The relationship between Captain Singh and the “captain's boy” takes its time in developing and is very rich.
  • There's lots of great aeronautical detail, creating a fantastic yet believable atmosphere.
  • A focus on gender expectations of the time period (the Napoleonic era) create a lot of entertaining and dramatic tension.
  • The story has plenty of action, too, to keep me reading.

  • My one complaint is that, for me, the point of highest dramatic tension came on page 225 out of 348. While the rest of the story still kept my interest, it seemed a bit anti-climactic after what was one of the most gripping scenes that I've read in a long time.

Additional Notes
  • David Levine introduces numerous elements to the story—Captain Singh's background, the nature of automatons, elements of Martian culture, hints about life on Venus, the war between England and Napoleon's France, etc.—to provide fuel for more volumes in this series.