Book Review: Duneflyer by Jay Aspen

This is my review of Duneflyer by Jay Aspen, Book 1 of the Stormweaver saga! I received a free digital copy of this book courtesy of Reedsy Discovery, and all opinions are my own!

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Duneflyer by Jay Aspen: Synopsis

A mysterious stranger. A murderous ambush and a sinister plot in the deep desert.

Alissa returns home from university, still haunted by the death of her sister and a restlessness that keeps drawing her back into the great sand sea of Irithen, the dangerous heart of a remote province on a distant planet.

Her attempt to save the life of the young and charismatic Talin throws her into a whirlwind of hidden agendas and a ruthless military attack. Only her mental and physical skills can keep her alive in this vast expanse of sand, heat, enormous lizards and poisonous scorpions.

Learning to fly a giant condor before it kills her would help as well.

Isn’t that a great summary? God bless indie authors who know how write a good book description!

My Review

One liner: A fast-paced sci-fi adventure with interesting world-building… and giant birds!

I’ve always been a “less is more” kind of reader, but this is one case where I really wished this book had been a little longer! Well, good thing it’s a series, because the world of this desert-based sci-fi is fantastic enough to feel like another planet but grounded just enough in nature to feel believable.

I thought the set-up at the beginning was really well done; you had just enough information to piece together how the society works without feeling bogged down by exposition. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the desert and the interesting tribal culture of the main character’s hometown. With that said, I also enjoyed our protagonist, Alissa, whose perspective you’re in. She’s smart, but flawed, and I found her relatable in more ways than I expected.

However–and this goes for most of the plot–I do wish the story allowed more space for the characters to breathe. It was a such a short book for a sci-fi, and everything moved so quickly (which in many cases kept it engaging), I think a few more character-developing scenes would not have gone amiss. Especially with our other protagonist, Talin, who still mostly remains a mystery in the end. At least he wasn’t 2D, though, and hopefully you learn more about him in later books.

There’s also this mystical Force-like power that doesn’t get fully explained, but it didn’t feel out of place and was actually compelling in its subtlety. I wish there had been more of it, but maybe we get to see that explored in later books, too.

And then, of course, there were the giant birds. Another thing I thought was compelling was the focus on animals/natural resources vs. technology. Much of the main characters’ culture revolved around favoring nature, and I thought it flowed well within the story. Also, giant birds are just cool.

Overall, I had a very fun time reading this, and the ending left me wanting more! I’m eager to see more parts of this world and learn more about our main characters. So while it could’ve been longer, what was there did not feel like a waste of time. I recommend Duneflyer to fans of Dune (very timely!) and Star Wars.

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