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Review: Cast Off – R J Theodore

Cast Off - R J Theodore

Genre: Sci-Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay, Lesbian

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About The Book

The Action Packed Conclusion to the Peridot Shift Trilogy

Peridot is on the edge of annihilation. Once life-giving, the world’s Trade Winds are transforming people into soulless monsters. The surviving Alchemist gods neglect their followers or take advantage of them. Even worse, a delicate peace has been wasted, and everything and everyone is at stake, especially Meran, the mistreated embodiment of the planet.

Captain Talis and the crew of Fortune’s Storm must try to do some good with what’s left of Peridot in the hope that, together, they’ll reclaim the hidden pieces of Meran’s soul before the chaos seals her disastrous fate.

The Review

Cast Off is the last book in R.J. Theodore’s final book in the Peridot Shift sci-fantasy trilogy.

Things have gone all to hell on Peridot. Talis’s nemesis, Hankirk, released an alien poison that has severed the souls from the bodies of half the citizens of Peridot. Talis and her crew are left to pick up the pieces, deciding to try to gather the remaining rings to restore Meran, the goddess from whom the Five stole their powers when they destroyed the old world.

With the Second Cataclysm is underway, Talis and her crew do what they can to spread the word, along with Kirna’s alchemist tattoos, which can protect the wearer against the poison gas circulating through Peridot’s skies. Talis brings Dug back from the dead using one of the alien simula – his own body was stolen by Onaya Bone, his goddess, at the end of book two – and the crew is happy to be reunited.

Things quickly go wrong, courtesy of Hankirk’s meddling, and soon the happy crew is broken up. Hankirk kidnaps Kirna and nearly kills Amos, there are Veritor ships raiding temples, an ex-Bone priestess seeking redemption, a rakish lesbian pirate captain and her crew, and the remains of the aliens whose arrival precipitated the Second Cataclysm. And Talis and her crew are on their third ship in as many books, this one built for travel into space to retrieve one of the rings…

Cast Off is an amazing ride through a world that’s one of the most imaginative that I’ve ever read, but it’s not just about the world-building. The series, at its heart, is about making mistakes and owning them, and about the painful changes that life and the world inflict on us and how they force us to evolve.

Talis shows substantial growth over the course of the series, going from a captain who needs to have complete control of her ship to someone who reluctantly learns to let go and trust others, even if doing so means also trusting the judgment of a goddess who could just as easily destroy the world as save it.

Rekka, the author, passed away last July after a long fight with cancer. I knew them through SFWA, and while we weren’t close friends, I loved working with them and reading their books. I can’t help wonder if this series was, in a way, a vehicle for Rekka to reconcile the trauma in their own life.

I didn’t want the story to end, which is always a testament to the quality of the work. Finishing the book was made more bittersweet by the realization that there would never be any more. Peridot is such a fertile ground for storytelling, and I wish Rekka were still here to give us more in this amazing world.

They have left us an amazing legacy in the Peridot Shift trilogy, one I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed. If you love sci-fi, grab a copy of this trilogy and read it now. You won’t be disappointed.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi and Liminal Fiction, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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