Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Mini Blog Tour: Review and Interview: Shadow of the Wraith by Ross Harrison

Mini Blog Tour: Shadow of the Wraith by Ross Harrison

     I'm so glad I could be apart of this tour! Shadow of the Wraith was an awesome read, and Ross Harrison was so much fun to work with! 


Shadow of the Wraith by Ross Harrison
Author: Ross Harrison
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Genre: Science Fiction
Source: Review copy provided by the author, thank you!

Book Description from Goodreads:
It sounds like a simple assignment: track down the mysterious Star Wraith and put an end to its rampage. But when Travis Archer and his team of inept soldiers find themselves the most wanted people in the galaxy - hounded by assassins, terrorists and their own military - they realise the Wraith is just a symptom of a much larger problem…
Finding war raging between one army intent on destroying an entire species, and another that will destroy the galaxy, Travis must put aside his fears and his past to uncover the truth behind it all. To become the hero he’s always imagined.


To begin, I thoroughly enjoyed Shadow of the Wraith. It’s like the best elements of every science fiction story you’ve ever heard of, brought together into one epic adventure!

The cover features a very classic science fiction shot of a ship with a planet in the background. Only this one features a more ominous tone as a ship ploughs its way through a mess of ships.

The story is told from the alternating views of a mass of several different characters and situations. The story begins with the introduction of the very cocky “space cowboy” ex military man known as Travis Archer as he presents the readers to a future where humans have left a ruined Earth and have taken to living among the stars with other humanoid alien species in an uneasy truce, while he tries to carve out a living currently as a bounty hunter. Then we’re brought to the primary situation at hand as the reader is apprised to the new ruling power of humans - the Terran Alliance and the growing trouble that this mysterious ship the “Star Wraith” is posing to ships that have crossed its path, and never live to tell the story. In an attempt to stop the Star Wraith, the military hires on bounty hunters as a cheap means to deal with this ghost ship…and guess who takes the job?

In the true fashion of space adventuring - Travis begins by going on a galaxy wide mission of assembling a rag tag crew each with a unique skill to contribute to the team. I have to admit, I love watching these crews come together - and the lengths that Travis goes to get the players he wants was incredible! In addition to Travis as the leader, some other crewmen we stumble upon is the reliable ex military best friend, the sexy but deadly love interest and even a comedic relief android. My only complaint really is that while Harrison tries to put unique features and voices to each character, the less prominent characters tend to blur together which was further exacerbated by switching between first and last names randomly when referring to these characters throughout the story.

My favorite character by far was the android Arkuun-Marl, whose constant quest for equality with humans combined with expert battle skills and the much needed one liners that broke the tension in overly serious moments.

After finding the Star Wraith, they soon discover that the ship isn’t what it appears to be at which point they commandeer it in their quest to find the truth, which leads to political intrigue, a secret past and it all lands this misfit crew right in the middle of an age old war.

The villains of the story were constantly shifting, and it was difficult to see who could be trusted and what their motives were. It made for a thrilling adventure as we navigated the minefield of assassins, military personnel and androids to get to the so called "leader". 

While Harrison presented what seemed like a straight forward plot idea, it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t your usual story. Harrison expertly throws curve balls at the reader, and before you know it there’s secrets revealed that completely change the game. I eventually just stopped trying to predict what was going to happen because as soon as I thought I had it figured out, Harrison would drop another bomb that had me reeling.

The characters go through some serious paces as they run across the galaxy hunting down the truth. The technology used in the ships, weapons, armour and bases had considerable thought placed into their design and purpose, which made for richly detailed and thrilling action sections. What completely threw me off was the introduction of some fantasy elements (think mythological creatures) that was a refreshing addition to the usual obstacle course of assassins and androids. Harrison even manages to weave a bit of romance into the story, and while a relationship does eventually form, I think his writing shone primarily in the flirting banter.

All in all, Shadow of the Wraith was an amazing story with witty humour, action, mystery, crazy technology and galactic politics. However, I do feel that it’s more suited to fans who already have a solid science fiction background to thoroughly enjoy the references to Firefly, and Arkuun-Marl’s Star Trek Scotty references. 

Rating: 4/5 Hot cups of Tea!
It's a great read for any science fiction fans! 

Interview with Ross:

1. What inspired you to first start writing?

It was so long ago, I have no idea now. I started writing little stories when I was probably around 7 or so; perhaps even younger. The first one I recall having red in it. And a hill. And a house on the hill. Perhaps some lightning.

I also remember a book about gremlins. There are these trees in Brazil, you see, that bite you. And if you get bitten by a tree, a gremlin starts growing like a big boil, and eventually bursts it’s way out! But it’s ok, because there’s always a good gremlin, too, that helps. I don’t know where that one comes from. It has biting trees; do I really need to explain where the good ones come from?

Anyway, it was quite likely my mother and grandmother. They used to read to me a lot. I seem to remember that first story with the red and the house being written for my grandmother. I also remember drawing a treasure map, staining it with a teabag and trying very hard to convince her I’d found it under the carpet. But that’s beside the point.

Most of the books my grandmother read me were funny ones – The Magic Roundabout, uhhh…and so on – and I wanted mine to be funny too. Of course, at that age, funny consisted of my character hiding under a car to evade his friend’s mother for no apparent reason. Hilarity did not ensue.

As I got a bit older, I found myself wanting to write more serious stuff, but it was based entirely on articles from game magazines (my second serious story was, in fact, Metal Gear Solid 2), and featured such creative imaginings as large wooden crates sitting in the middle of the desert for the characters to hide behind. But, the writing was improving and I was enjoying it. And it was only for me and family anyway, so Kojima can’t sue!

Then came the first novel. The first proper, full-length, serious-with-a-hint-of-humour, entirely original story. It was, I suppose, a thriller about an NSA (I think) agent tracking down the killers of three FBI agents. Or it might not have been; I can’t really remember.

The point is, it was during this book that my grandmother asked if I was going to try to have it published once I’d finished. The idea hadn’t occurred to me. I said no, knowing that it wasn’t even close to good enough, but the idea had been planted.

About halfway through the book, and having just created what I thought was a very clever plot point, my file became corrupted and I lost the entire book. Thankfully, some months earlier, I had emailed it to my granddad, and he had printed it out – as he does with practically everything that passes his computer screen. So I still have some of it, but sadly about half of what I had is gone forever, including the clever…whatever it was.

So that was somewhat upsetting, and I gave up writing for a while. Then, not long before I moved to Ireland, I started writing another book. That book eventually became Shadow of the Wraith. That idea of publishing grew and grew as the book did, until I decided I would go for it. Unfortunately I was stupid and lazy about it, and sent out the book to agents long before it was ready. The subsequent and inevitable rejections were depressing and I gave up for quite some time, but now here I am.

Was all that a little off topic…

2. What are some things that you HAVE to have while writing? (certain snacks, beverages, pens, etc)

I have to have quiet. Or at least noise I can control. Other than that, not much. I can’t work when there’s people around me talking and playing music or trying to be quiet! There’s little more annoying than someone who, in some kind of fake show of courtesy or something, talks to you in a stage whisper because they know you’re trying to concentrate. How the hell does that help? That just makes me have to try harder to hear what they’re saying, and takes away even more focus from my work!!


A nice hot cup of tea is a good start, but I can work perfectly well without one. I’m easily satisfied. Sometimes I need music; either because it will help the scene or in the film in my head, that music is playing, or because I’m getting a bit stuck and the music will help shake me out of that.

What I should not have is the internet. I get too easily distracted. I maybe finish a big chunk of writing, and decide to reward myself with a browse on the internet, and come back three hours later to find I don’t feel like writing.

I also apparently must have little sleep, since the time I most feel like writing is late at night.

3. Who designed the cover?

The ebook cover was designed by Mark Williams, who I found on DeviantArt. I crawled through the work of a lot of people and found the characters he had drawn. He had no scenes like I was looking for, but his work was good enough that I thought he could do what I wanted, so I asked and he said he would. And then…he did.

The hardback cover I did myself. The ships on that cover were from some concept art I had done quite some time ago.

4. Quick, name your favourite sci-fi books/tv shows/movies that were an inspiration in writing Shadow of the Wraith!

Firefly (bring it back, Fox, you inept morons)/Serenity, Star Wars, Reality Dysfunction, Consider Phlebas, Blade Runner, The Fountain (not sure if that’s sci fi).

Many more that won’t come to me at present. But none were particularly influential to my writing. They were inspirations in the way that every experience we have influences us in some way, big or small, but I never thought ‘I like that, I’ll put it in the book’ or anything like that. Plenty of films make me feel like writing after I’ve watched them (less so for books), but again, just because of the adventure and whatnot enthusing me, not because I saw something that I wanted to write myself. If I’m honest, I actually read more fantasy than sci fi – mostly Terry Pratchett.

5. Nerd Curiosity: Who do you like more, Captain James T Kirk or Captain Jean-Luc Picard?

Jean-Luc. He has better hair.

More information about Ross and Shadow of the Wraith can be found at the following: 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review, Ann! Also, how did I forget to add Fringe?! Probably doesn't count as 'quick' now, though :s


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