Rating: 5 out of 5.

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Publisher: Orbit Books

Publish Date: 11 June 2019

Page Count: 544 pages

VELOCITY WEAPON is the first instalment in O’Keefe’s The Protectorate series. It has been on my To Be Read list since it was published last year. I couldn’t actually recall the premise, but rather than checking the blurb, I jumped straight in and… wow. When I read what is probably my favourite prologue of all time, I literally wiggled in excitement:

“She shuffled out into the hall, picked a likely direction toward the pilot’s deck, and froze.

The door swished shut beside her, revealing a logo she knew all too well: a single planet, fiery wings encircling it.


She was on an enemy ship. With one leg.


And when I read the darkly amusing opening sentences of the first chapter, I knew I was going to love this book:

“The first thing Sanda did after being resuscitated was vomit all over herself.

The second thing she did was to vomit all over again.”

Beginning a novel having no idea what to expect is an incredibly fun, perhaps risky experience, but VELOCITY WEAPON is the perfect book for going in blind. If I wasn’t here for the fake internet points, I would tell you to stop reading this post immediately and go buy yourself a copy. But I am here for fake internet points -and to post a book review- so I suppose I will at least tell you why you should buy this book.

O’Keefe is a fan of a good old-fashioned plot twist, and she executes them relentlessly and perfectly. This book is an utterly unpredictable thrill ride that at one point had me shouting “WHAT?!” while riding the bus home, and gaping at the guy nearest me with my “Can you believe?” face on.

He couldn’t.

O’Keefe writes in short, snappy chapters (82 of them!) that alternate between 3 POVs which keeps the whole book tense and fast-paced. It also makes it an easy book to pick up and put down without falling out of the story, something that worked well for me as a commute reader.

Sentient spaceships are one of my favourite sci-fi tropes along with generation ships. The connection between captain and craft is the space equivalent of dragon and dragon-rider, a relationship often written to be either profoundly intimate or fraught with a power struggle and need for autonomy. VELOCITY WEAPON provides a more sophisticated take on this, with the spaceship Bero being a complex character who has a complicated relationship with the main protagonist from the start. O’Keefe’s characterisation is strong in this book, and while all the characters are likeable, I found Bero the most interesting. I also loved Sanda, whose humour reminded me of a more disciplined, less morally opaque Gideon Nav having recently finished Gideon the Ninth.

VELOCITY WEAPON is an incredibly fun read and similar in tone to Alex White’s Salvagers trilogy, which also features LGBT+ representation. Like A Memory Called Empire it shares some similarities with Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy being a modern take on military sci-fi. However, it has more action than either of those.

I don’t want to provide any further details as I honestly think the less you know about this book, the more it will blow your mind, but do buy yourself a copy! I’m jumping straight into an ARC of the sequel CHAOS VECTOR which will be released July 30th, so keep an eye out for my review!

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