Trust a Few by E M Swift-Hook is the first book in the middle trilogy of a trilogy of trilogies. That may seem like a strange place to start, but I watched the original Star Wars in the cinema when it came out: so, let’s do this!
Avilon Revid was a rebel and a hero, a terrorist and a pariah, but events led to amnesia and capture by the Coalition. Now he is trying to build a new life and a new identity after finishing his sentence serving with the brutal Special Legion. He goes in search of the one man he considered a friend in the Specials, Jazatar Baldrik. They had arranged to meet in Starcity, but Jaz is missing and Avilon finds himself alone in the underworld of the ‘city, with only a few years’ memories and a still developing sense of morality to guide him.
The adventure follows four main points of view: Avilon, Jazatar, Charis, a pilot fallen on hard times, and Durban a free-agent seeking Avilon for his own reasons. They must deal with each other and the web of criminality holding the ‘city together. The plot interleaves their stories nicely, juggling plot threads and cliff-hangers in switching POV. Expect action, intrigue and double-crosses.
The world feels real and lived in, the tech, for me, explained enough without bogging down details, and the worldbuilding is deft. I particularly enjoy the idea of the ‘city selling itself as a tourist spot because of the levels of organised crime there.
Did I ever feel out of my depth, starting in the middle of the story of this universe? Actually, no. Trust a Few is a great jumping on point for new readers, with plenty of interesting characters being victims of events clearly established in the book. One character does take a turn at about the two-thirds point of the book which felt a little out of nowhere, but I gather he was a character in the previous trilogy and events here are in keeping with that. So that’s not so much a problem, as a reason for me to seek out earlier books in the series.
To sum up, if you want an intriguing sci-fi set in a grimy lived-in universe with interesting characters doing interesting things, then Trust a Few is well worth your time. Five stars!
And if you want a taster, check out my reading a short story that ties into Trust a Few in episode 24 of my podcast!