Tales From Ardulum by J.S. Fields is an exciting compilation of stories centered around the key characters from the Ardulum trilogy. Providing glimpses into the characters’ lives before and after the events of the trilogy, this book is either a wonderful dénouement or a brilliant introduction to the Ardulum universe.

Unable to stomach life on Earth any longer, Yorden decides it’s high time he got off the planet and away from the nauseating politics, bad memories and eerie façade of civility that has become of Terran existence. Now he just needs to find a way off the planet. As it turns out, it’s not as difficult as one might think to steal a spaceship.

On the cusp of the most glorious moment of her life, Neek (Atalant) stands expectantly on stage, ready to don her robes and join the elite ranks of the Heaven’s Guard. Until her world is turned upside down and she is brusquely dragged away from the ceremony. Labeled a heretic, she is tossed in a shuttle and doomed to orbit the planet, spending what remains of her life as an exile. But just before she takes her last breaths, her shuttle is approached by another ship.

Ekimet and Savath are two young gatois in training. Isolated from their families the two young dreamers find solace in each other and dreams of something greater for their future.

Nicholas has a bright (and boring) future ahead of him. Ready to begin his stint as a Youth Journey, the possibilities for apprenticeship are endless. But his mother has already arranged for him to spend his time buried in intergalactic legal paperwork. Of course, nothing says he needs to accept this path and where is the harm in going to another interview?

What does a crew need after they’ve just finished saving planets, uniting species, rewriting religions and ending war? A vacation. But relaxing is impossible as Emn is suddenly plagued by horrific visions that leave her incapacitated and questioning her own sanity. Atalant and her friends also fear she may be losing her mind and must find the cause of Emn’s visions before she does.

The Characters

The best part about reading this book was the opportunity to delve so much deeper into the different and memorable characters from the series. Many of the stories focus on a defining moment of a character’s life, one that ultimately led them to each other. Some are amusing and some of them are so poignant they will hit you hard in the feels.

We learn more about how the roguish Yorden became a captain of his own ship, about how a young Neek dreamer whose hopes are crushed finally becomes a pilot, and about a young opportunist that seizes the chance at adventure. We also get a glimpse into the budding romance between Ekimet and Savath as well as humourous and heartwarming insight into the romance between Atalant and Emn. I loved the opportunity to further explore the crew’s relationships and to witness the origins of the bonds between them.

The Writing Style

The book is comprised of perfectly paced, shorter stories from different moments in time, but centered around the main characters of the Ardulum series. Fields strikes the perfect balance of comedy, adventure and feels in the crew’s origin stories and gives us one last epic adventure to share with them. The banter is superb, and it is perfectly complimented by moments of heartwarming sincerity drawing you deep into the beautiful camaraderie the crew shares.

The Pros

I was crestfallen when I finished the Ardulum trilogy, believing the adventures of the crew of Mercy’s Pledge had ended. So, imagine my joy when I discovered Fields was giving the crew (and us) one last celebratory hoorah. Only this time we get to delve deeper into the characters themselves and learn interesting bits of history such as the origin of the name Mercy’s Pledge. It brought me even closer to the characters I already adored. Oh and of course there are the pictures! The book includes exquisite renditions of the main characters by Micah Epstein.

The Cons

The bone-deep sadness one feels when an incredible journey finally comes to an end.

Michelle's Favourite BooksThe Conclusion

If you’re like me and have devoured the trilogy already, then this is the perfect chance to hear more about the crew’s amazing adventures, their origins, and grow that much closer to them. And if you haven’t read the trilogy yet, this is a great introduction to the characters and universe Fields has created. Either way, get ready to immerse yourself in an epic space opera with endearing characters that will hold a special place in your heart.

Excerpt from Tales From Ardulum by J.S. Fields

Nicholas edged back into the hall as a … well, a biped of some form grabbed his hand with sticky fingers and pulled him to a chair. She was taller than him and had weird little stress lines at the junction where her nose met her forehead. Her hair was strawberry blonde, her skin coppery, and she had way too many fingers. She had to be a Neek, but that didn’t make any sense. What was she doing off-world?

“Uhh…” Nicholas began. “Shouldn’t you be, I mean, why are you – “

“Sit,” the Neek instructed. “I’m asking questions first. How’s your sense of time?”

“Uh…” Nicholas looked at the other person in the room. The man was a Terran – Nicholas was sure – with a wide, heavyset frame, a little too much paunch than what was considered healthy, and a scruffy, brown beard that was threatening to eat his face and neck. Where it started and where the man’s curly, dark-brown hair ended, Nicholas couldn’t even begin to discern. He was wearing the same beige flight suit – wrinkled and stained – as the Neek, and they both smelled exactly as Nicholas had expected. As an added bonus, the Neek’s fingers appeared to be dripping some sort of snot. No, wait. Not snot. Mucus. The Neek secreted empathic mucus from their fingers. It was the plot of at least four B movies back on Earth.

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Series

Ardulum

Tales From Ardulum

Ardulum: First Don

Ardulum: Second Don

Ardulum: Third Don

Bits and Bobs

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