The adventure continues for Captain Ethan Walker and his merry band of misfits aboard the Olympus Dawn. Chains of Dawn is book three in the Wings of Earth series by Eric Michael Craig. In lieu of jumping straight into the action, Craig takes a more subdued approach to the third outing. I can only presume that he is giving readers a well-earned break before tossing them back into the spin cycle.
The story starts off as a simple delivery ala Planet Express. It’s so above-the-board and cushy that you half-expect Bender to wander in and crack a joke. But alas, the relief is brief. Ethan entangles himself in a local conflict, one that forces the crew into a desperate struggle on a jungle planet. He gets captured and the group gets fractured, leaving multiple fates in multiple hands. The story then unfolds as a competing narrative where everyone needs to make critical decisions on their own, lest the Dawn be lost forever.
What sets this book apart from previous entries is twofold.
First, most of the action takes place on a super-earth planet, a large departure from the spaceship clashes that readers are used to. The crew must battle unknown elements and crushing gravity, amplifying an already challenging predicament. They manage to keep their wits via local insights and clever tech, but the reader is always aware that these are aids, not guarantees. It provides a constant tension that prods the reader from every direction.
Second, the plot is not driven by the decisions of Ethan Walker. It’s the judgements of his cohorts that have the most impact, rendering him comically inept in some situations. These are not random whims, but rather the pay-offs of crafting unique personas and motivations that span multiple books. As things go wrong, sometimes in epic fashion, you are in no way confused as to why. Every choice is within character and nothing feels unearned.
Funny enough, it’s easy to avoid spoilers because the manners of choice are what carried the most intrigue. Instead of filling pages with space battles and fiery explosions, Craig drops the reader into stressful scenarios and asks, “How would you handle it?” I thoroughly enjoyed this book and continued thinking about it for several days after. I recommend Chains of Dawn, the Wings of Earth series, and look forward to the next tale.
Learn more at EricMichaelCraig.com
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