Review: Dark Angels Rising
Dark Angels Rising is the exciting conclusion of the Dark Angels trilogy by Ian Whates. This novel is a continuation of the story started in Pelquin’s Comet rather than a standalone novel.
The titular Dark Angels are a team of individuals who have abilities provided by alien technology, but who also understand the responsibility of what has been entrusted to them. These novels are definitely space opera, but have some tropes of a superhero narrative without the cartoon surrealism; a “with great power comes great responsibility” vibe. It also makes me think pirates in space; they do what needs to be done, but are not necessarily on the side of law and order. The alien technology comes with an alternate identity, one that can be passed on to another with the technology itself.
The Dark Angels disbanded some years ago, their actions and identity passing to urban myth and hearsay storytelling, their stories well known, but not entirely believed. However now someone or something is seeking them out, over turning their new alias and killing them. Drake knows he needs to find the rest of the team, before it is too late, but he is reluctant to fully accept that the life he made for himself is one he cannot go back to.
Now the Elder alien, nicknamed Mudball, is aiming to get to an ancient cache of alien tech, so he can use it to control humanity and only the Dark Angels can stop him, assuming there are enough of them left.
The characters in this tale, despite their alternate abilities and superhero style names, are real, relatable humans, with flaws and weaknesses as well as strengths. Drake’s doubts and fears about bringing the team together and putting them in danger, while also knowing he has no choice, keeps the character grounded. This allows the reader to empathise, even though the setting of spaceships and aliens is so far removed from our everyday reality.
The descriptive prose is very visual, but does not slow down the action. Whates manages in few words to conjure up the scene in front of you, while the action plays on. It’s a gripping, fast moving tale that keeps you hanging on to the thrilling conclusion. One of the marks of a really good writer is someone who plugs their story into your imagination. If you love John Scalzi’s Collapsing Empire series, then you should definitely read these novels.