I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: July 5th 2016
Emperor’s daughter Mercedes is the first woman ever admitted to The High Ground, the elite training academy of the Solar League’s Star Command, and she must graduate if she is to have any hope of taking the throne. Her classmate Thracius has more modest goals – to risk to the rank of captain, and win fame and honor. But a civil war is coming and the machinations of those who yearn for power threaten the cadets. In a time of political intrigue, class conflict, and alien invasion, they will be tested as they never thought possible.
Following Mercedes and Thracius, a.k.a Tracy, The High Ground is a well-paced science fiction space opera that highlights the many flaws within this empire’s society and the way these two characters, both from different ends of the spectrum, are at an advantage or disadvantage based on their birth and position within society. As is to be expected, these two character’s story lines begin to merge from the offset as they embark upon their training at the academy and attempt to make a name for themselves whilst proving that it isn’t all about social hierarchy and names, but about their actions and the choices they make in times of need.
Mercedes and Tracy are very well crafted characters with their flaws, ambitions, and doubts that are revealed as the narrative unfolds. It becomes apparent that these two characters are very similar in that they both want to impress their fathers, though for purely different reasons, and this is what truly brings them together as they attempt to understand the futures set out before them. They mirror each other in the challenges that they must face, both experiencing different outcomes. As the narrative progresses, both characters experience progression and development from their experiences and actions and begin to understand how they can make a difference.
I loved the different themes running through this narrative and the way they were implemented into the story. Though they are clearly evident throughout, Snodgrass allows some subtlety with some of the themes by referencing to them through dialogue or free indirect style. Evident throughout is the use of social hierarchy which does not go unnoticed, especially given the difference between Tracy and the other characters we are introduced to; Tracy is born of lower-class and given the opportunity to rise above his station, whereas the other characters are almost all a part of the Fortune Five Hundred and hold power, status, and respect within society. There are also themes surrounding romance and friendship as well as politics.
I really did enjoy this novel and found that Snodgrass implemented the world-building easily and without bogging down the story with a tonne of exposition. Given Tracy’s upbringing and Mercedes position as the Emperor’s daughter, we learn as they learn which helps the reader to bond with these two main characters, understanding the world around them as they become more knowledgeable and aware of events taking place. This is one of those novels that I find hard to describe but will end up recommending it to anyone interested in science fiction that is more character-based than action