Ardulum First Don by J. S. Field | Book Review
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To some the traveling plant of Ardulum is a legend, to others, it has become a focal point for worship. For Neek, it is a point of rebellion. The planetary government refuses to change its ways, blindly following the teachings left behind by the Ardulans. Neek makes a stand to speak out against the teachings and is rewarded with exile. Cast out into the galaxy, she finds her way aboard Mercy’s Pledge, a transport ship that doesn’t hesitate to smuggle an item or two. But when their newest cargo consists of a young Ardulan, Neek’s entire worldview is thrown off course.
Ardulum First Don will take readers on a journey across the galaxy as the main characters embark on a quest to find answers and try to keep those they care about safe. A wide array of cultures will be introduced, and readers will find themselves immersed in a multicultural world filled with various cultures, beliefs, and representations.
My favorite character was Emm. When readers first meet Emm she is a child, naïve to the politics she is fully immersed in. As an Ardulan, there are those among the various planets who wish to exploit her for their own gains. Emm undergoes a journey of self-discovery as she is thrown into conflicts beyond her control, and ends up aboard the Mercy’s Pledge. While the crew is unsure how to handle a young Ardulan, they do their best to keep her safe. But the threat grows ever larger as keeping her hidden becomes increasingly difficult. Emm’s journey was the highlight of Ardulum First Don.
But Emm isn’t the only character with challenges to overcome. Neek was indoctrinated to believe in the worship of Ardulans. However, as she grew, she began to question the beliefs of her people and whether Ardulans existed. When she is exiled from her planet, cast adrift with nowhere to call home, Yorden offers her a place aboard Mercy’s Pledge. And when Neek comes face to face with what appears to be a true Ardulan, she begins to question everything. Readers will become engaged in Neek’s emotional battle as she struggles to understand what is truth and what is a lie.
Ardulum First Don is a space adventure filled with interplanetary politics, space battles, and an underlying theme of found family. While it may have taken my mind a while to understand the biological terms used to explain the technology, the overarching story was captivating. Not to mention J. S. Fields built her characters in a way that left plenty of room for growth. Sci-fi is a hard sell for me, however, this is one series I hope to continue reading.
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