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The Ace of Skulls

The Ace Of Skulls - Chris Wooding

Vardia was in the middle of a civil war thanks to actions of Ketty Jay crew in the previous book. Its infamous captain Frey still pursued his lost love, the rest of the crew and all the consequences be damned. The crew finally began getting clued in that their captain would not think twice about putting their lives on the line only to get closer to the woman he was obsessed with (I cannot call this feeling love and keep a straight face) - took them long enough. Slag the rum-drinking cat got old. Fun and exciting times were coming.


I want to make it clear from the start: for two thirds of the book I was sure I would give it two stars; I even briefly thought about DNF-ing it. Last quarter improved the situation somewhat so that the final rating is 3 very weak stars. 


Mercifully Frey's love interest appeared very briefly in the first book. In the second his love was cute, in the third it became really annoying.

Puppy love

How bad was it in the last book? Sufficient to say, it made me a thief. Yes, I confess I stole the following stress reduction kit from my buddy reader and generally good friend Sarah.

Stress reduction kit

I hope she can find forgiveness in her heart, but my read was really stress-inducing.


The book actually has high rating. People say the writing quality is good. I can only answer that the writing quality by itself does not make a good book. People say the character development is great. I can only answer with a longish rant (yes, finally!!! I was waiting for a chance to talk about it for a while).


Read enough reviews written by different people and you will eventually come to the same conclusion as I did: every single person has his/her/its own definition of character development. I saw two reviews from two different people of the same book; in one of them the character development was mentioned as its main strength and in another the book was trashed for a complete lack of the said development. So in discussing the topic as it relates to this book I will use my own definition.


Frey finally developed into a weak-willed lovesick puppy, is it good? The only character who was really developed was Silo. Asked nicely (especially if this involves a large wad of cash) I might admit that sudden and complete change of personality of Harkins in the last part of the book could qualify as a development. As to the rest of the main players: they were just present for the purpose of moving the action along. Some of them actually became boring (I am looking at you, Jez).


One more point which kept bothering me a lot. During the whole series the crew got shot at often. Sometimes on practically every page, multiple times. I am not going to spoil this book, but how many times they were hit by bullets in the first three books? One time. In the previous book. Pinn shot himself by accident. I can only think of three explanations of their invincibility. First, the Ketty Jay folks got in shooting matches only with retired Stormtroopers.

Stormtroopers always miss

Second, they all have the same superpower: bullets always miss them. Third (with credits to my friend Bookstooge for this one), Aliens! I cannot think of any other reason.


As I already mentioned the last quarter saved the book from being completely hopeless by showing some larger-than-life action scenes. The ending though was a little on the cheesy side. Rant mode off.