Exiles of a Gilded Moon. Vol. 1: Empire’s Wake. By Dustin R. Cummings

Darshima is the second son. Destined to live his life in the shadow of his talented older brother. From the hunt to the classroom and in popularity, Darshima is relegated to the side as the brothers’ parents try to position Sasha for greatness. The last straw comes when Sasha is invited to a party for the prince’s birthday. While this is a tremendous honor and one that the family should be proud of, it is the slight of making Darshima be Sasha’s attendant the cuts the occasion and ultimately breaks the family. And what follows is Darshima’s attempt to break free from the expectations and become his own man. It becomes the adventure he never saw coming and one that will test everything he has.

First off, I was deeply impressed by Cummings’s ability to create a complex world seeped in traditional values and far-flung space tech. The book starts off with a coming-of-age hunt and progresses to a series of lightning-quick space battles. All this is deftly controlled around a family whose station on the outer moon of Gordanelle is middle class and reaching. The wider realm is governed over by the Vilidesians whose efficiency and military might rule over the four moons. It’s this political depth that really got me turning the pages. Cummings writes a narrative where the individual strife goes hand-in-hand with the troubles of the realm. I will not give anything away, but shit gets real quickly in this one!

Exiles of a Gilded Moon has a moderate pace that allows for proper characterization. I enjoyed getting to know Darshima and the diverse people he meets on his journey. Each person helps to open his eyes to a further secret of this Cummings’s world.

Pick this one up for an adventure and a personal journey: inward and to the stars!

4 out of 5 stars

Thank you to the author for an advanced copy for review.

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