Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review Supremacy’s Shadow by T. Eric Bakutis.
Fiction Friday: Supremacy’s Shadow Review
Today’s book is Supremacy’s Shadow by T. Eric Bakutis from the Dueling Planets series. You can find it here. If you’re fans of badass, yet hilariously loveable heroes, then you’ll enjoy this series. While the plot can get a little dark, the writing is hilarious (sometimes) and the characters are wonderful. So, let’s get into it.
The story revolves around Hayden Cross, a retired member of the Supremacy, an organization who controls the twin planets of Phorcys and Ceto. He receives a mission from a Patriot sympathizer, Moran Solace, with the task of finding a young girl named Cassie, who is under the care of notorious criminal overlord, Tyler Ryke. Along the way, he uncovers both a conspiracy by the Supremacy themselves, and the possibility of his wife, Dani, who blew up before his eyes, being alive somehow.
However, this aforementioned conspiracy is going to dig up old wounds for Hayden, who was once their biggest member and now, an enemy in their eyes. But the Patriots have other plans in their effort to take back Ceto and stop the Supremacy from a full-scale genocide campaign against the people of Ceto.
It’s a brilliant story reminiscent of series like Firefly. It’s a tough, yet somewhat crude hero who you can’t help but love at first sight. His personality is something I’d love to see more of. I see a lot of stories of heroes being too serious or too timid. A guy who can not only talk his way out of a situation but can back it up without being too powerful is not easy, especially for indie authors like this one.
The story does bounce a little and we don’t know the story’s purpose until much later when Hayden attempts to find his wife. Either way, I want to see more like this.
A number of tone changes, which I will get into in a moment, does take me out of it. Tyler Ryke and Varis, the main antagonist, are nasty villains that break Hayden to the point of no return. But I wasn’t sure if they were too dark as far as the story was concerned. An upbeat, lovable story can get a little too far.
I don’t want to give away the whole story (not that I ever do) but I do want to say the ending is great. The plot twist is phenomenal. I truly didn’t see it coming. As for what it is, well…you’ll just have to find out yourself.
I’ll only talk about significant ones. First is, of course, Hayden Cross. He’s the loveable dork who has a badass streak and a man who looks out for his friends. He can be a bit of a jerk, but he’s the loveable kind who knows that even if he talks back, he doesn’t walk back. He’s a brilliant character that I want to see more of.
The next is Lerisa Wake, one of the first Advanced, machine-like beings who live alongside the “Natural-born.” While the character was fine, I do want to talk about the Advanced a bit.
As far as I could tell, they don’t have much of a history, like where they came from or how they were made. No doubt they’re robotic, but their purpose is mysterious and the book doesn’t do a lot to explain who they are or why they exist at all. I didn’t mind them, but I did want to know more.
The next is Varis, and this is where the series gets darker than it should. He’s an insidious member of the Supremacy who goes through any lengths necessary to stop Hayden and the Patriots in their tracks. He and Tyler Ryke end up abusing Hayden in rather cruel ways and almost tip him to a breaking point. I felt this made Hayden too fragile and I would have loved to see Hayden still hold on to his wittiness while being abused like this.
There were plenty of other characters. The author does go out of his way to make a diverse cast, but it’s either hit or miss with them. Some I loved, others I felt “what was the point.” Some also show up just to die. Zack, his partner is the brains of their operation and I liked how he was portrayed and many of the women were portrayed fairly.
There were some things about the writing that took me out of it. First, is the shift in tone between the first few chapters and chapter six. At the start, it had Hayden going after the toughest guy in order to find a clue to finding his lost wife. Afterward, when he gets captured by Tyler Ryke, it gets dark very quickly. Hayden is almost traumatized during those chapters and by chapter ten or so, things start to go back to normal.
I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t bad, but the shift from a fun buddy cop-style drama to something violent and dark was a sharp turn for me. I almost felt that the moments where Hayden gets tortured went on a little too long and put him into such a hard to win situation that had it not been for this mysterious guy, he would have died.
After that, the plot resumes as normal and we see the main goal, to see if Hayden’s wife Dani is still alive. While the plot could have been a little more consistent in that regard, it wasn’t so bad. There are a few unanswered questions, but since this is book one, we’ll see where it takes us.
Another issue is the same I had with Fire of the Fallen. Typos. Possibly just as much as the other story, but these are more blatant. Again. It’s a great book, but I wish for a little more editing sometimes.
As far as the actual writing itself, it’s fantastic. For an indie author, a wonderful story is told here. The description is blunt and matter-of-fact and works. The history between the natural-born and the Advanced is an interesting aspect and the subtle hostility between the two is noticeable.
The author does mention that he does want to make this a shared universe, offhandedly mentioning the MCU (including a joke about an Avengers-style crossover finale which may or may not happen). It’s a unique concept and I’m interested to see how it works. I did feel that though this is book one, the book ends with little loose ends, but there were some things, like the history of the Advanced for example, that I’d love to see brought up in future works.
Some minor complaints, but overall, I loved this book. If you like heroes with attitude and the skill to back it up, this is one worth checking out. If you can get past the typos, this is a good series and one to look out for.
My next novel review will be an anticipated YA fantasy by a Nigerian author. Most people probably know what it is, but you’ll have to wait and see.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
Got any suggestions for future topics and reviews? Hit me up on my social media channels and let me know your thoughts. I always read the feedback, even if I don’t respond, and every reply counts.