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Working the lines

Cover of Linesman
A review of Linesman by S. K. Dunstall

The other night I was reading on my tablet and realized it needed charging. But I still wanted to be reading. So I picked Linesman from my pile of library books and thought 'I'll just read it for a while and then head to bed'. Best laid plans. A few hours later (at 4:30 in the morning!) I turned the last page and immediately went to the LINKcat app on my phone to put book two in the series (Alliance) on hold. I love when that happens with a book, especially one I had no expectations of going in.

After discovering alien technology that uses 10 different lines (hard to really describe) humanity has been able to travel long distances through space. Though the lines can be used on any space ship, maintaining them takes a particular skill set (some innate and some trained) and the people who maintain the lines are Linesmen. Which brings us to Ean. Ean has always "heard" the lines, but because he grew up in a slum he did not get into training as early as he should have. And because of his late start, he has his own way of working with the lines. He sings to them. A fact that is looked upon with disdain and scorn by his colleagues. Of course where there are people there will be politics and power grabs and conflict. At it's current state humanity has settled into three factions, two of whom are teaming up to potentially eliminate the third. When an aristocratic woman from that belagured faction buys Ean's contract, he's not sure what to expect. Certainly not that he will be one of the first Linesman to work with a newly discovered alien ship. And certainly not that his unique abilites will put him at the center of worlds changing events.

Ean made for a great protagonist and is what drew me in from the first few pages. He's mild-mannered and self-deprecating (sometimes to a fault), but he's also smart and resilient. Aside from Ean what kept me reading was the political maneuvering, the puzzle of the alien ship and the supporting cast of characters. Now I can't wait for book two to arrive, though I do plan to start reading it a little earlier in the day.

Aug 12, 2021