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Ten Low

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Firefly meets Dune in a breakneck race to escape across an alien moon thriving with aliens and criminals. Ten Low is an ex-army medic, one of many convicts eking out a living at the universe's edge. She's desperate to escape her memories of the interstellar war, and the crimes she committed, but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. One night, attempting to atone for h Firefly meets Dune in a breakneck race to escape across an alien moon thriving with aliens and criminals. Ten Low is an ex-army medic, one of many convicts eking out a living at the universe's edge. She's desperate to escape her memories of the interstellar war, and the crimes she committed, but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. One night, attempting to atone for her sins, she pulls a teenage girl - the sole survivor - from the wreck of a spaceship. But Gabriella Ortiz is no ordinary girl. The result of a military genetics programme, she is a decorated Army General, from the opposing side of the war to Ten. Worse, Ten realises the crash was an assassination attempt, and that someone wants the Ortiz dead... The pair bury their hatreds and strike an uneasy deal to smuggle the General off-world. Their road won't be easy: they must cross the moon's lawless wastes, facing military hit squads, bandits and the one-eyed leader of an all-female road gang, in a frantic race to get the General to safety. But something else waits in the darkness at the universe's edge. Something that threatens to reveal Ten's worst nightmare: the truth of who she really is and what she is running from.


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Firefly meets Dune in a breakneck race to escape across an alien moon thriving with aliens and criminals. Ten Low is an ex-army medic, one of many convicts eking out a living at the universe's edge. She's desperate to escape her memories of the interstellar war, and the crimes she committed, but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. One night, attempting to atone for h Firefly meets Dune in a breakneck race to escape across an alien moon thriving with aliens and criminals. Ten Low is an ex-army medic, one of many convicts eking out a living at the universe's edge. She's desperate to escape her memories of the interstellar war, and the crimes she committed, but trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. One night, attempting to atone for her sins, she pulls a teenage girl - the sole survivor - from the wreck of a spaceship. But Gabriella Ortiz is no ordinary girl. The result of a military genetics programme, she is a decorated Army General, from the opposing side of the war to Ten. Worse, Ten realises the crash was an assassination attempt, and that someone wants the Ortiz dead... The pair bury their hatreds and strike an uneasy deal to smuggle the General off-world. Their road won't be easy: they must cross the moon's lawless wastes, facing military hit squads, bandits and the one-eyed leader of an all-female road gang, in a frantic race to get the General to safety. But something else waits in the darkness at the universe's edge. Something that threatens to reveal Ten's worst nightmare: the truth of who she really is and what she is running from.

30 review for Ten Low

  1. 5 out of 5

    ☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣

    Q: Has he fallen from so far he doesn’t even know which moon he is on? (c) Q: emptiness beneath a brilliant, star-strewn sky. (c) Q: I stare out at the horizon. As the shards melt on my tongue and dextro rushes through me, bright and pure, what I see looks a lot like hope. (c) Factus, ie A Moon. Felicitatum. New Despair.... Lovely places. Accorded Companies, Nightwatchmen, Minority Force... Love the sync: I just read where there is a lot on the wood worldwide web. And here we go, has it as well Q: Has he fallen from so far he doesn’t even know which moon he is on? (c) Q: emptiness beneath a brilliant, star-strewn sky. (c) Q: I stare out at the horizon. As the shards melt on my tongue and dextro rushes through me, bright and pure, what I see looks a lot like hope. (c) Factus, ie A Moon. Felicitatum. New Despair.... Lovely places. Accorded Companies, Nightwatchmen, Minority Force... Love the sync: I just read where there is a lot on the wood worldwide web. And here we go, has it as well: Q: I once read about forest trees on Earth, and how they did much the same: used the last of their strength to send their life force through the roots and into the soil, giving it to others. (c) Nice stuff: Q: My mind rebels, catapulting me back into myself, into a confusion of images: cold metal piercing skin, pain on the wings of black birds, a figure gloved in blood… The images come on fast again: a bird with black wings, cold metal, bloodied hands... (c) Q: They are like a creature with a thousand eyes, hungrily tracing every outcome, showing me innumerable realities, too many for my mind to bear. (c) Q: Morning in the Barrens is beautiful, but it comes with an asking price of hunger and cold, loneliness and near-insanity. A price that almost no one is willing to pay. (c) Q: Different in the cities; there, hundreds of people make thousands of choices, every day. It’s enough to keep them at bay, people reckon, gives them enough to feed on. But out here in the wastes people are few and choices are scarce, and if you let yourself doubt – if you let chance into your life – you’ll shine out like a beacon through time and space and they will come to feed. (c) Q: ‘The only place I am physically safe is in prison. And I am not about to break back in.’ (c) Q: ‘“Creator, maker of planets and moons, who dwells in the space between thoughts, the breath between words, the eternity between the beats of a heart, give us the grace to walk this world of matter, and to shape it in your name and to your will, until we may meet with you, beyond substance, beyond breath, as one, in the place beyond all reality.”’ (с)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Ten Low is a gritty science fiction adventure set on a stark empty moon settled by former convicts and miners. Most of the moon is barren wasteland, dotted with mines, trading posts, saloons, and spaceports. There is little law and order on the world. Smugglers abound and in the interior it is the Seekers who control, not the Accord, who rule the rest of the known galaxy with an iron hand. The Seekers take anyone they find and harvest their organs, leaving nothing behind, not even shadows, not e Ten Low is a gritty science fiction adventure set on a stark empty moon settled by former convicts and miners. Most of the moon is barren wasteland, dotted with mines, trading posts, saloons, and spaceports. There is little law and order on the world. Smugglers abound and in the interior it is the Seekers who control, not the Accord, who rule the rest of the known galaxy with an iron hand. The Seekers take anyone they find and harvest their organs, leaving nothing behind, not even shadows, not even memories. Shoot first and ask questions later is the motto of those that survive here and, if it reminds you of the American west in the 1800’s, that is perhaps no accident. Its sparseness and the Seekers who control the lawless interior remind many of Dune and the Fremen. Mad Max (with or without the thunderdome) could also describe this place. Ten Low is both the title and the name of the lead character, a woman who survives out in the wastelands on her own with a few friendly smugglers to rely on. As we quickly learn, Ten Low is a medic, also referred to as Doc, and she has a tally she must fill to make up for her sins of the past. It is not till much later in the story that we, the readers, learn about Ten Low’s past and who she was and what she did. What we do know upfront is that she is a gritty, hard-nosed, survivalist, who makes a fateful choice to investigate a crash and lend aid to the survivors. One of the survivors is our second major character, the General, Gabriella Ortiz. In a nod to Card’s Ender’s Game, the General appears to be a twelve-year-old, but is enhanced and improved and singlemindedly focused. Ten Low takes the General and flees across the surface of the moon with half the known universe on their tails. And, yes, most of these hard-nosed survivors are women. There’s also a bit of a magical sense of flitting back and forth between realities and buzzing creatures that are barely seen, but who pre-date the advent of humans on this orb. Overall, an excellent science fiction read.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lukasz

    A Western? In space? Yes, please. Ten Low, an ex-convict and ex-medic, lives on Factus, a remote moon. She tries to stay away from the authorities and forget her dark past. After rescuing a girl from a spaceship crash, she becomes embroiled in a deadly intrigue. The girl, you see, is a genetically engineered supersoldier and decored general who despises Low and sees her as a traitor. They strike a deal that, in theory, benefits them both. Practically, however, their journey through Factus turns d A Western? In space? Yes, please. Ten Low, an ex-convict and ex-medic, lives on Factus, a remote moon. She tries to stay away from the authorities and forget her dark past. After rescuing a girl from a spaceship crash, she becomes embroiled in a deadly intrigue. The girl, you see, is a genetically engineered supersoldier and decored general who despises Low and sees her as a traitor. They strike a deal that, in theory, benefits them both. Practically, however, their journey through Factus turns disastrous but I won't tell you why. Because, you know, spoilers. I loved the setting, and that's where I'll start. The action takes place on a moon at the edge of the universe, where no one cares about rules or the Accord. Those who don't know how to navigate Factus die. Those who can barely survive anyway. Everything ( meds, food, morals ) is in short supply on a cosmic desert. In other words, approach its inhabitants, sure, and talk to them, but have a weapon ready. Just in case. Tonally, this book is cold, violent, and visceral, but you also sense the underlying elements of hope, loyalty, and redemption. Low's haunting past influences her decisions and makes her intriguing; she has many secrets and doesn't reveal them all at once. She wants to forget all the horrible things she did to survive, but she can't. We follow the events through her compelling POV. As a result, the world is constructed with a minimum of prose that reveals just enough to drive the story, but leaves even more to the imagination. Ten Low isn't about the world; it's about Low and General Gabriela Ortiz. The story starts slow, but soon picks up speed and rarely slows down. The stakes get higher, the plot more complex, and the intrigue more exciting. The final chapters fly by at a breakneck pace. As entertainment, it is fun, yes, but it's also challenging and plays with the narrative. There is something deep inside Holborn's mind, something I can't quite grasp, but which shows more than a flash of itself. Ten Low delivers a fast-paced redemption story full of twists, clever ideas, and surprises. With its bleak but oh-so-cool setting and Low's haunting narration, it offers much to enjoy. Consider adding this book to your already sagging shelves - it deserves its place there.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The SciFi Book Guy

    So yeah, *takes a deep pull on a dart* that was fucking amazing! Like I don’t even smoke bro, but here I am *takes another drag*. Yeah dude, that was gooood. Just give me a moment to put myself back together here… Alright, I’m cool, I’m cool… Yeah, so this was a gritty spaghetti western in grimiest parts of space. Every aspect of the book came together absolutely perfectly. I think I’m in the nirvana those lululemon yoga chicks in the tight pants talk about. Ommmmmmm. Fuck yeah! Our main gal is T So yeah, *takes a deep pull on a dart* that was fucking amazing! Like I don’t even smoke bro, but here I am *takes another drag*. Yeah dude, that was gooood. Just give me a moment to put myself back together here… Alright, I’m cool, I’m cool… Yeah, so this was a gritty spaghetti western in grimiest parts of space. Every aspect of the book came together absolutely perfectly. I think I’m in the nirvana those lululemon yoga chicks in the tight pants talk about. Ommmmmmm. Fuck yeah! Our main gal is Ten Low who is wandering the desert on this lawless wasteland moon. She’s a roaming medic helping all those in need. She’s got a ton of bad karma and is trying to make up for the sins of her past. Her name ‘Ten’ was given to her because that was the number of years in her sentence on a prison hulk ship. You don’t quite know what she did, but you knew it’s some real serious shit. But yeah, this ship crashes and she rescues this kid, or so she thinks it’s a kid. Turns out it’s this cybernetically enhanced general from the opposite side of the old war. This girl looks like she should be out having a tea party with her doll Mr. Buttons, but she’s this ruthless badass commanding troops in vicious battle for years. Despite being enemies, Ten’s got a deep moral debt, so she saves the little brat rather than let these crazy cultists, the Seekers, come cut her up and steal her organs. These two team up as Ten’s trying to make amends for her past and the General needs Ten to make it off the planet alive. They’re not cool with the situation, but they need each other right meow. The story is non-stop action as they go from firefight to firefight. They ally with a gang of badass G’hals to try to get the General off planet all while dodging the Accord military, robber barons, crooked marshals, crazy cultists, and this weird ass alien presence called the ‘Ifs’. Dude, I gotta adjust my pants just thinking about it again. But anyways, the Ifs are this kinda superstition. People believe they making bad things happen and feed on doubt and chance. They’re attracted to chaos and influence the world to feed off the chaos. Shit always hits the fan when they’re around and Ten has an inexplicable connection with them. Anyways, on top of the sweet ass characters that evolve in your mind through the story, the whole atmosphere was beyond rad. Most definitely my favourite aspect of the book. We’re at the forgotten edge of the civilized galaxy and also at the edge of the universe and the Void. No one comes back from the Void and the Seekers worship it. Neglected by the controlling Accord but influenced by the Ifs from the Void. A gnarly setup dudes. My gold star recommendation is to buy this book, grab some nice bevvies, find a comfy chair, and enjoy the mother fucking ride! Pretty damn simple. So bail on all your previous plans (not that you actually had anything worthwhile going on) and do this asap bros. Anyways, that’s about all I got. Adios amigos! Oh wait, check out my rad site for more content like this: The SciFi Book Guy

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lata

    A moon on the farthest edge of Accord-controlled space is the setting for this fast-moving, violent story about a woman and her too many secrets and dark past. The woman goes by Ten Low, and provides basic medical help to anyone who needs it. Low travels about Factus (the moon), from settlement to settlement, and often out in the barrens, in an effort to mostly avoid notice by what few authorities are around. Low’s hiding from something, much like many of the people on the moon. Into this situati A moon on the farthest edge of Accord-controlled space is the setting for this fast-moving, violent story about a woman and her too many secrets and dark past. The woman goes by Ten Low, and provides basic medical help to anyone who needs it. Low travels about Factus (the moon), from settlement to settlement, and often out in the barrens, in an effort to mostly avoid notice by what few authorities are around. Low’s hiding from something, much like many of the people on the moon. Into this situation, a girl literally crashes. Gabriella is a child soldier who was vastly augmented to be pretty much a super soldier, with the speed, deadly accuracy and strategic thinking of someone considerably older. She’s also on the opposite side of the war Low also fought in, so, Low and Gabi get along, well, not well. And yet, they both need each other, as Low has to get Gabi to an Accord base, and Low wants military-grade medical supplies. Factus is a mess. It might be an Accord moon, but it’s a desert where poverty, lawlessness, poor health and quick deaths are endemic. And that’s not including the secretive and scary Seekers, a group known for killing people and harvesting their organs. Everyone’s terrified of them. Low and Gabi must travel through one terrifying situation after another; trust is difficult and Low is seemingly barely holding on to her sanity, while also, intriguingly, sensing different possibilities and outcomes with each new danger they encounter. It’s impossible not to think of Mad Max and westerns while reading this book. The hellacious landscape, the widespread criminality, the sheer weight of Low’s guilt, and the constant risk of sudden violence make for great reading. The characters surrounding Low and Gabi are fast to shoot, live hard, and fear chance and luck. I’m a sucker for stories like these, with a protagonist bowed under the weight of her past, looking for a way to redeem herself, then finding someone who she must protect. I loved the atmosphere and the action. And damn! All those great women throughout this story, not just talking tough, but proving it at every turn. And I loved the way the many possibilities Low saw were woven into the action, adding a fantastic element to a gritty, dark, and entertaining story. Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for the ARC in exchange for a review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    The nitty-gritty: A gritty, desert-like setting, high stakes action and vividly drawn characters make this a standout science fiction adventure. One of the best things about being a book blogger is discovering books and authors that you normally wouldn’t find on your own, and thanks to Titan Books, I now have a new favorite author! Ten Low was so much fun, a dark, gritty, action-packed science fiction adventure with interesting characters and even some humor thrown into the mix. Think Mad Max mee The nitty-gritty: A gritty, desert-like setting, high stakes action and vividly drawn characters make this a standout science fiction adventure. One of the best things about being a book blogger is discovering books and authors that you normally wouldn’t find on your own, and thanks to Titan Books, I now have a new favorite author! Ten Low was so much fun, a dark, gritty, action-packed science fiction adventure with interesting characters and even some humor thrown into the mix. Think Mad Max meets Dune with a bit of Firefly, and you’ll get an idea of what you’re in for. Although comparisons aside, Ten Low has its own unique feel, and it was exactly the mix of elements I love. The story takes place on a distant moon called Factus and revolves around an escaped prisoner named Ten Low. Ten—named for the number of years of her sentence—was convicted of a war crime when she was asked to steal something that resulted in thousands of deaths. Rather than rot in prison, she decides to escape and tries to make up for her crime by saving as many people as she can—literally, since she was a medic in the military. When the story opens, Ten is struggling to survive in a wind blown, dusty land called the Barrens, when she witnesses a ship crash. She’s surprised to find a young girl still alive, although critically injured, and she manages to get her to safety. But the girl, a teenager named Gabriella Ortiz, turns out to be a military General, one of the Minority Force, children who were recruited into service and modified to be super soldiers. The General makes a deal with Ten: help her get off world and she’ll pay Ten in precious medical supplies. But as it turns out, the General is being targeted for assassination, and now Ten is stuck in the middle. And then there are the Ifs, strange, dream-like creatures who can predict the future and are somehow communicating with Ten. There are many possible outcomes for every situation, but will Ten make the right choices? Holborn’s post-apocalyptic world is a harsh one, full of criminals, scavengers and other lowlifes, all trying to survive on a dying moon. Food and water are scarce, and people survive mostly on snake meat and grubs and the occasional (and very rare) tin of fruit. Ten and her friends are constantly trying to avoid the Seekers, gangs who deal in organ harvesting. There’s also the Accord, the military presence who is after both Ten and the General, and of course the last thing they want is to be captured. I loved the Wild West feel to the story, with its lawless characters, guns and miles and miles of desolate landscape. Holborn’s writing is top notch, and I could almost feel the sand in my eyes and the sun beating down on my head. And let’s talk characters. First, I loved that most of the main characters are women, all of them tough and capable and ready and willing to kick some ass if need be. Ten has plenty of personal demons she’s dealing with. She feels terrible remorse for the crime she committed—the details of which are revealed later in the book. She tries to save people, not kill them, but unfortunately in this world it’s often a “kill or be killed” situation. The terrible scar around her neck from the convict collar she had to wear is a constant reminder of where she came from and what she did, and it doesn’t help that others judge her by that scar. Poor Ten, I really felt for her! She’s also trying to figure out how she fits in with the Ifs, the otherworldly beings who feed on chaos and games of chance.  The General was also an interesting character, but she took some time to warm up to. She knows what Ten has done and hates her for it, and she spends the entire book calling her “traitor,” even though Ten keeps saving her life. I loved their antagonistic relationship, which was unexpected and didn’t go where I thought it would go. I was expecting them to bond more because they are both fugitives, but their relationship was like trying to mix oil and water and they just never seemed to mesh.  One of my favorite side characters was Falco, a woman who runs a bar at a way station and ends up helping Ten at one point. Falco’s “G’hals,” two friends named Pegeen and Boots, were awesome characters too, and I only wish they’d had more page time. Finally, Silas is one of the few males in the story, a pilot who comes in very handy when they need a ship to get the hell out of whatever bad place they end up in (actually, all the places in this story are bad places!) There’s a bit of romance between Silas and Ten, and it was sweet and just enough to add a little brightness to an otherwise very grim story. When Silas and Falco enter the picture, Ten and the General join them on their ship, and I just loved these characters together, a scrappy, found family who have to work together to survive. And speaking of surviving, everyone in Ten Low is in constant danger and it was so stressful! The action pauses now and then, but a lot of the story is full speed ahead, as Ten and her friends are always having to outrun trouble of one sort or another. There are plenty of suspenseful fight scenes, and some of the action is a bit over the top, but honestly I loved every minute of it. Holborn adds in a supernatural/metaphysical element that sets the story apart from other sci-fi tales, the “Ifs,” creatures who seem to be from another dimension and can communicate with Ten, for some reason. Whenever Ten faces dire circumstances, the Ifs allow her to “see” multiple outcomes of her situation, thus showing her the best choice to make. These visions, for lack of a better word, take only a split second, and in the face of danger or even death, Ten must make her choices quickly. The Ifs feed on the chaos created by games of chance, and even if I didn’t quite understand what they were, I loved the fact that they saved Ten’s life many times during the story, yet they remain a mystery. Why do they speak to her, and what do they want? Holborn really nails the ending, too. Again, it wasn’t the ending I was expecting, but it was just right for the story. And although Ten Low doesn’t seem to be the start of a series, I sincerely hope that Stark Holborn has more to say about this world and these characters, because I will be the first in line for that book! Highly recommended. Big thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I received this as an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Ten Low is an adrenaline rush! It is a quick-paced, exciting, and fun adult sci-fi with a western flair that kept me engaged the entire time. I loved it. I was so invested in the characters. Ten is complex without being melodramatic, with a dualism to her that was realistic and understandable. She is driven but questioning, and tough yet vulnerable. She was easy to identify with and her motives made sense. I also adored th I received this as an e-ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. Ten Low is an adrenaline rush! It is a quick-paced, exciting, and fun adult sci-fi with a western flair that kept me engaged the entire time. I loved it. I was so invested in the characters. Ten is complex without being melodramatic, with a dualism to her that was realistic and understandable. She is driven but questioning, and tough yet vulnerable. She was easy to identify with and her motives made sense. I also adored the other character, the General. The blurb makes it seem like she’s a teenager, but in truth, she’s a child, which was even better. Snarky teenagers with chips on their shoulders are less interesting than child soldiers with tragic backstories. And because she’s a child, her actions and remarks turn from irritating to almost endearing, as you know it’s self-preservation and not just … puberty. The other minor characters, Falso, her G’hals, and Silas were very likable, quite awesome really, and the villains were few but worthy of the title. I must say, I enjoyed the female-driven cast quite a bit. It’s very diverse in terms of LGBTQ+ representation and these aspects were normalized and not forced. What I particularly loved about this novel is the gradual exposition of the setting and world-building. I’m so glad this is a trend now in sci-fi because one thing I hate is an info-dump. This novel drops you in media res and forces you to learn as you go as if you were a new arrival to the moon Factus yourself. The setting itself is very fun - it has a real Firefly-like setting, very Western in the sense of small towns struggling to survive in the dust. It also reminded me of the game Borderlands a bit, with the various raider-like gangs and overlords. The fight scenes are more reminiscent of Mad Max Fury Road, as they are a lot of fun and I was never bored. While I am listing comparable media, Ten Low doesn’t feel like parsed-together pieces of other things - it is its own story and setting and characters. The plot is one conflict after another, but the story doesn’t feel rushed. The novel provides the characters with a few moments of downtime, which helps to broaden their personalities and dynamics. This allows for small bits of humour, usually with the General, and it served to build their relationship. The mystery around Ten is both what you expect but also not, which was a nice twist. The writing is also as lovely as it is visceral. Overall, the novel is a raw, exciting ride that deals with how far a person will go to redeem their conscience if that’s even possible. I recommend it to anyone who loves gritty sci-fi, especially those fond of the game Borderlands and the show Firefly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Quiraang

    I was given an ebook review copy by the publisher. Factus is bleak, desert moon, out on the edges of human exploration. It provides the setting for this rollercoaster paced space opera that has shades of Mad Max crossed with a Western style Dune. Ten Low (aka Doc) is a medic with a mysterious past who wanders the lawless, barren wastes of this moon helping the sick and injured in the desolate communities . Low comes across the wreck site of a military space ship and she helps the only survivor - an I was given an ebook review copy by the publisher. Factus is bleak, desert moon, out on the edges of human exploration. It provides the setting for this rollercoaster paced space opera that has shades of Mad Max crossed with a Western style Dune. Ten Low (aka Doc) is a medic with a mysterious past who wanders the lawless, barren wastes of this moon helping the sick and injured in the desolate communities . Low comes across the wreck site of a military space ship and she helps the only survivor - an injured teenage girl. However, Gabriella Ortiz is no ordinary teenage girl. She is a genetically modified warrior, a General in the army of the Accord, winners of a recent bloody war, in which Low was on the opposing side. Low decides to forget the past and help Ortiz, but it soon becomes apparent that the crash was an assassination attempt by the Accord against one of their own. They must flee across the lawless wastes to find safety for Ortiz, avoiding military hit squads, smugglers, robbers, black market organ dealers, and a strange alien presence. She enlists the help of crime boss Malady Falco and her all female gang of G'hals, and between them they fight their way across the moon. A terrific cast of characters of which Malady Falco and her G'hals deserve their own book. One of the most fun books I've read this year - can't wait for the next installment

  9. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    A story filled with Mad Max adventure, Western gun fights, and Space Opera fun. I loved "Ten Low" and I hope we see more of her adventures in the future. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for my ARC. A story filled with Mad Max adventure, Western gun fights, and Space Opera fun. I loved "Ten Low" and I hope we see more of her adventures in the future. Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher for my ARC.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Harris

    Following from Stark Holborn's Nunslinger, Triggernometry and Advanced Triggernometry, I had high expectations for Ten Low and they were fully justified. Ten Low is a woman living on the remote moon Factus, somewhere out on the edge of known space - a desperate, arid place inhabited by organ scavengers, smugglers, religious fanatics and outlaws, all kept alive by a dripfeed of resources from the ruling power of space, the Accord, much of which is skimmed off before it ever arrives. Ten has some da Following from Stark Holborn's Nunslinger, Triggernometry and Advanced Triggernometry, I had high expectations for Ten Low and they were fully justified. Ten Low is a woman living on the remote moon Factus, somewhere out on the edge of known space - a desperate, arid place inhabited by organ scavengers, smugglers, religious fanatics and outlaws, all kept alive by a dripfeed of resources from the ruling power of space, the Accord, much of which is skimmed off before it ever arrives. Ten has some dark things to atone for, things we gradually learn, but at the beginning all we really know is that she's trying to save lives, trying to even up the score. Her status as a medic buys here a degree of protection, of neutrality, among her fellows on Factus but it's not proof against all dangers - and particularly not the weird, fate-shifting effect of the mysterious 'them'. 'They' are a race - or a supernatural power - apparently native to Factus, causing, and feeding on, consequences and chaos. And Ten's all about the consequences, so is constantly on her guard, looking for signs that They may be taking a hand. Into the blighted wastes of Factus comes an outsider - a child General of the Accord, a woman (or girl - it's truly mixed up) with plenty of blood on her hands, but absolved, as a member of the winning side in the recent war. Marooned after an accident with her ship, she's determined to get back to her command, but Factus isn't an easy place to escape. The two must make their way across the moon, trading for basic necessities at windswept outposts and evading an eager posse of bounty hunters, kidnappers and aggrieved citizens (it's complicated). Playing on the characteristic notes of a Western in a SF setting, Ten Low gives us one Woman With a Past and another who may not have a Future. or who may have many Futures, if They have their way. Their relationship is initially hostile. The General assumes that Ten is a traitor, but they need to cooperate to survive, and besides, Ten has obscure reasons of her own for wanting to save lives. The General is a decorated war hero, but rather at sea on this dusty moon and unable to call in help. Not a new setup, but Holborn truly makes it her own, allowing the two to speak for themselves (and through a range of allies and enemies with whom they have history). The relationship she draws is complex, drawing on hurts and crimes and losses that are rarely described but which make themselves felt by their influence on the behaviours we see and on the goals and methods of the protagonists. Ten, for example, is reluctant to hurt or kill which frustrates the General but then something happens and we suddenly understand why she's like that... Also unclear but (partly) revealed in the evolving pattern of this book is a developing mystery revolving around what 'They' want, something hinted at in obscure prophesies and startling moments where the hidden threads of the cosmos seem to be exposed. Ten seems important to that, although she doesn't understand the reasons any more than we as readers - though they do at times seem to give her an edge. It's a genuinely gripping story, driven by action on almost every page and the kind of book that once picked up, you don't want to let go till you've finished. Those desert wastes and enigmatic characters do grow on you...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Paige

    I was sent a copy of this book by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. When a book is compared to Mad Max, Firefly &Dune you go in with pretty high hopes, and thankfully Ten Low surpassed my expectations! It gave everything it promised including morally-grey characters, LGBTQ+ characters, and a place called the Edge where you do not want to go. This is a Sci-Fi set on a moon at the edge of the universe, where the reach of The Accord barely exists and lawlessness abounds. I loved reading I was sent a copy of this book by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review. When a book is compared to Mad Max, Firefly &Dune you go in with pretty high hopes, and thankfully Ten Low surpassed my expectations! It gave everything it promised including morally-grey characters, LGBTQ+ characters, and a place called the Edge where you do not want to go. This is a Sci-Fi set on a moon at the edge of the universe, where the reach of The Accord barely exists and lawlessness abounds. I loved reading a story about a backwater moon where the rest of the universe is clearly populated, if not entirely cared for. It gives the characters who live there a lot to fight for and not a lot to lose. The race across the landscape means you see farms where crops can't grow, towns built like prison hulks, and shining fancy transport that is at odds with its surroundings. Somehow Holborn has taken this space-desert moon and filled it with life and with threats. Ten Low has a small cast of characters. It is entirely told from Ten's perspective, and while she is a loner she ends up with a constant companion in the General. There are vast swathes of this book where they are the only two characters we see. Their relationship is built on mutual dislike and distrust, but also a need to survive. We get to meet other morally-grey characters along the way. While they help Ten and the General there is always this undercurrent of potential betrayal and relationships formed out of need. There is no one to save and it's every man for themselves on this moon, so who needs heroes anyway? Towards the last 50 pages of Ten Low I found myself wondering just how this was going to end. There isn't an overarching quest to complete and when plans are thwarted I wasn't sure how it was going to wrap up. After all, no-one needs saving and it's a fight for survival. I was very pleasantly surprised by the ending, and I actually feel like it wrapped everything up it needed to, while keeping some things open. At the beginning of the book you don't know much about Ten or the General, but as they travel together their pasts begin to come out. Essentially they were both involved in a big war. Throughout the book you get to discover what they did, what sides they were on, and why they are where they are now. Everyone was involved in the war so it's something that binds some people together and pushes others out. One of my favourite parts of the book took place in the Edge. Essentially the moon is at the edge of the universe because past it is the Void, and it sounds utterly terrifying. The Edge seems almost like it's a part of the Void. It very much plays on the fear of the unknown and it led to some of the most engaging scenes in the entire book for me. There is also a faction called the Seekers who I think are my favourite group, not because they're good, but because they are mysterious and everyone is afraid of them. A big theme of this book is fear of the unknown and the role that fate plays in out lives. Ten is haunted by 'them', or 'the Ifs'. Mysterious forces who prey on confusion and muddled thoughts. I don't want to delve too deep into 'the Ifs', but they add a sense of inevitability to the story. Ten Low is an action-packed adventure, filled with morally-grey characters and mysteries that is utterly unputdownable.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sunyi Dean

    A startling and surprising book (and written in first person present tense! Which I love! But thought I'd throw that out there so all the FPPT snobs can recoil appropriately lol.) I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but TEN LOW defied those expectations in the best way nonetheless. #### If you've read the blurb or the other reviews, you'll already know that Ten Low is an ex-con with an incredibly traumatic and complex past. Her name, Ten, refers to the sentence in years she is supposed to A startling and surprising book (and written in first person present tense! Which I love! But thought I'd throw that out there so all the FPPT snobs can recoil appropriately lol.) I'm not sure what I was expecting exactly, but TEN LOW defied those expectations in the best way nonetheless. #### If you've read the blurb or the other reviews, you'll already know that Ten Low is an ex-con with an incredibly traumatic and complex past. Her name, Ten, refers to the sentence in years she is supposed to have served, and for reasons not readily apparent at the start, she is living on a tiny wasteland of a moon in the farthest reaches of the galaxy. This moon is, in fact, right on the edge of the Void - a great darkness from which exploratory ships have never returned (this chilling bit of information is casually dropped in at just the right moment.) Acutely conscious of her crimes and sins, Ten Low spends her time travelling painfully across the moon, trying to heal and help anyone she finds. Ten is a brilliant character. She is by turns stoic and paranoid, philosophical and superstitious, haunted and hunted; her self-imposed mission of mercy frequently spins out more disaster, and the people she kills or is forced to kill far outweighs the people she manages to help, despite her best efforts. In this context, Ten Low rescues a young girl from a crashed spaceship, who turns out to be an Enders Game-esque child-general--one who fought on the other side of the war from Ten Low. the General's motivations for working with an enemy are initially clear cut (survival), becoming more convoluted as the story unfolds. Ten's are complex right off the bat, and the explanations for them span the entire novel (a good thing.) There's so much I could unpack in this review: for example, my admiration of the craft skill needed to sustain a propulsive and action-filled novel with a *very* small cast of characters. Large swathes of the book are filled with just Ten Low and Gabi. The twisting of expectations and cliched relationships is another. World-weary old mentor figure and bratty naive warrior is an age-old combination, but everything about Ten Low and Gabi feels fresh, because the author doesn't allow the characters to ever slide into complacent, easy roles. Although initially sympathetic and admirable, Ten Low's past makes her a difficult character in some ways as the book progresses; meanwhile, although initially "spoilt" and violent in her presentation, Gabi actually has a clearer and more consistent sense of ethics than Ten, albeit a shade too much conviction for her own good. Mostly, though, when I think back on the book, it's the atmosphere and the setting which stand out to me--above and beyond the written descriptions, although those are good, too. The wonderful thing about frontier-settings is that they explore, in very literal terms, what the breakdown of society looks like, in a context where we can still see the original society (usually positioned "back east" in a historical western, or simply on developed planets in an SF one). And it's at this peripheral edge of civilisation where society frays that individuals can be put to the ultimate test, their natures laid bare and exposed. What does it mean to be good or evil, when ethics is a distant idea? What does it mean to be human when there is no room for anything other than survival? If there is no law to judge you, no system to weigh and process you, no eyes to see your actions, does it matter what you do, and who you are? Ten Low lives not only at the edge of human civilisation, but of literal reality: her moon, inhabited by whispering metaphyiscal creatures, stares straight into the universal abyss. And Holborn, with quiet grace and adroit craft, takes us right to that edge with her. Would definitely recommend this book, although the cover + mention of teens made me think it was YA at first. I only mention that in case it puts off anyone looking for adult fiction (or conversely, might disappoint someone hoping for a YA voice.)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    A world of snakes, Ifs, and child soldiers I usually don't tell people that I enjoy science fiction or fantasy books because the actual niches that I like are pretty darned narrow in each genre. That being written, there are plenty of both genres that I do love but there are tons that just don't interest me. This book was JUST right for me. It was a cross between Mad Max and maybe Total Recall (yes, those are movies but this book played vividly like a movie as I read it). I liked that not all my q A world of snakes, Ifs, and child soldiers I usually don't tell people that I enjoy science fiction or fantasy books because the actual niches that I like are pretty darned narrow in each genre. That being written, there are plenty of both genres that I do love but there are tons that just don't interest me. This book was JUST right for me. It was a cross between Mad Max and maybe Total Recall (yes, those are movies but this book played vividly like a movie as I read it). I liked that not all my questions were answered by the end of the story. I do not want to read a sci fi book that reads like it could be taking place in my present day living room. This one definitely did not do that. Ten Low is an escaped convict turned medic on the moon desolate moon Falco who happens to rescue a modified child soldier General Ortiz. I loved the characters, the setting, the undercurrents of "mysticism," and I heartily recommend this book to sci fi enthusiasts who enjoy strong female protagonists. I received this book from Titan Press through Edelweiss in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Crini

    Compare a book to Mad Max: Fury Road and I’m immediately interested. I’m a sucker for desert settings and western style stories in general but Ten Low takes it even further by also being set on an alien planet with its very own touch. Does Ten Low deserve that comparison, you may ask!? Oh hell yes! Ten Low is the first book I’ve read by Stark Holborn (which is a pseudonym shrouded in mystery btw) and it certainly won’t be the last. I immediately loved the writing style and knew I was going to lik Compare a book to Mad Max: Fury Road and I’m immediately interested. I’m a sucker for desert settings and western style stories in general but Ten Low takes it even further by also being set on an alien planet with its very own touch. Does Ten Low deserve that comparison, you may ask!? Oh hell yes! Ten Low is the first book I’ve read by Stark Holborn (which is a pseudonym shrouded in mystery btw) and it certainly won’t be the last. I immediately loved the writing style and knew I was going to like this one a lot within the fist few pages already. I can’t say I read a great many books told in first-person (not by choice but I don’t come across by as many) and must say it works perfectly for this story. Low is somewhat of an unreliable narrator, there are things she sees/hears that might or might not really be there (you gotta read this for yourself to find out). Either way, I loved her voice and being inside her head makes her inner struggles of coming to terms with her past that much more intense. Directly related to that is the very unique concept of alien life on this planet. It’s definitely one of the most clever ones I’ve read so far and would LOVE to read more about. The overall plot of Ten Low is one hell of a ride. Once it gets going (and that happens almost immediately) it’s non-stop action. This is exactly the kind of high-stakes, oh-my-god-they-are-all-gonna-die-aren’t-they, no-break-for-you-ladies thrilling plot I had hoped it would be with lots of amazing fighting scenes, just as this western-style setting demands. And it doesn’t help that it basically comes without chapters which made it very hard for me to take breaks and I almost read the whole thing in one sitting. That the action-packed plot is mixed with the slow unraveling of Low’s past is just the cherry on top. While Low is the only POV character, you still get a very good feel about the many other characters as well. This little group of morally gray characters is what I call “squad goals”. I loved them all A LOT, which made reading this not easy because who even is save in this book. NO ONE. I certainly wouldn’t mind reading a whole book just about the G’hals, a kickass bandit crew. Ten Low is a damn good book that kept me glued to the pages but what makes it even better is its subtle queerness, its queernorm world. From the mention of two dads, over the multiple non-binary characters, to the f/nb and m/m couples, I really just assumed everyone in this book was queer by default. Ten Low is exactly the kind of story I hope to get when someone mentions Mad Max: Fury Road. A desert type of setting but with its unique touch, super rad gunfights / fighting scenes, non-stop action and amazing, morally-gray (queer) characters. I highly recommend reading this one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Claywood

    There’s no other way to say it: this book is a masterpiece. The pacing, the characterization, the setting, the plot…they all come together flawlessly. This is a mixture of Mad Max Fury Road and Firefly, with a splash of The Matrix thrown in for flavor. My mind also cast fuzzy, nostalgic Fallout (the games) impressions and Stephen King Gunslinger memories to the fore. Nettie Lonesome (A Wake of Vultures) was also never too far from my thoughts. In spite of all these lovely tingly cherished feeling There’s no other way to say it: this book is a masterpiece. The pacing, the characterization, the setting, the plot…they all come together flawlessly. This is a mixture of Mad Max Fury Road and Firefly, with a splash of The Matrix thrown in for flavor. My mind also cast fuzzy, nostalgic Fallout (the games) impressions and Stephen King Gunslinger memories to the fore. Nettie Lonesome (A Wake of Vultures) was also never too far from my thoughts. In spite of all these lovely tingly cherished feelings of past enjoyment, this book was original and unique as hell. I’m coming to find that I adore Westerns, and this book has cemented that realization for me. The writing was expert level, mind-blowing, dare I say, metaphorically, orgasmic. This is my favorite book of 2021 so far, and Stark Holborn will be an instant buy from me until the last of my days. Buckle up for the ride of your life, this one is a doozy!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Loyd

    Not sure why it has such a high rating. Maybe I'm hyper critical of a world marketed as "Firefly meets Dune" or others just have really low standards. The world feels barely explained and instead feels like just a backdrop. The side characters are... there? They never grew on me through the book and I often wondered why Ten would ever put up with someone like the General even with the whole "redemption" arc. Not sure why it has such a high rating. Maybe I'm hyper critical of a world marketed as "Firefly meets Dune" or others just have really low standards. The world feels barely explained and instead feels like just a backdrop. The side characters are... there? They never grew on me through the book and I often wondered why Ten would ever put up with someone like the General even with the whole "redemption" arc.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Runalong

    A fantastic science fiction ride that throws in magic, western adventure, fantasy and a little horror. Although action rarely gives up its character focused and a hugely enjoyable read Full review - https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl... A fantastic science fiction ride that throws in magic, western adventure, fantasy and a little horror. Although action rarely gives up its character focused and a hugely enjoyable read Full review - https://www.runalongtheshelves.net/bl...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mike Shackle

    wow. I loved this book. Not what I normally read but I'm so glad I picked it up. A great sci-fi western that keeps you turning pages, written with a brutal simplicity. Go read it now wow. I loved this book. Not what I normally read but I'm so glad I picked it up. A great sci-fi western that keeps you turning pages, written with a brutal simplicity. Go read it now

  19. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    Thanks to Titan Books, who sent me the ARC through Edelweiss. Ten Low’s past has doomed her to live out her life on the inhospitable desert moon Factus, right on the edge of human inhabited space. After fighting on the losing side of the system-wide civil war, Ten, named for the ten year sentence she received for her actions during the conflict, had nowhere else to go. Factus, with its roving gangs of scavengers, smugglers, cultists and thieves, at least presents a medic with plenty of opportunit Thanks to Titan Books, who sent me the ARC through Edelweiss. Ten Low’s past has doomed her to live out her life on the inhospitable desert moon Factus, right on the edge of human inhabited space. After fighting on the losing side of the system-wide civil war, Ten, named for the ten year sentence she received for her actions during the conflict, had nowhere else to go. Factus, with its roving gangs of scavengers, smugglers, cultists and thieves, at least presents a medic with plenty of opportunities to ply their trade. Each patient she treats helps Ten serve her self-imposed penance, providing a balance against the mental tally of all those she harmed during the war. Circumstances conspire against Ten’s plans for a discreet, if not peaceful, life. Ten pulls a child, the lone survivor, from the wreck of a military ship. But Gabriella isn’t a child, really, she’s a genetically modified soldier in a teenager’s body, an experimental weapon that helped the Accord win the war and doomed Ten’s side to defeat. Gabriella needs to find a way off Factus and Ten has the local knowledge to help. The two reluctantly set aside their natural animosity and set off for what is effectively a wild west adventure. Though it doesn’t slouch at the beginning, the pace continuously accelerates throughout, dropping Ten and Gabi from frying pan, to fire, to somewhere even hotter. There are chases on land and air, a train heist, plenty of shoot-outs and quite a bit of headlong flight across Factus’s badlands. The world-building is surprisingly deep too, with the author fitting an impressive amount of detail amidst the action. It's Ten and Gabi's partially-hidden histories that lead them to mistrust their growing, mutual respect, but each sticky situation they pull each other out of brings them closer to the other. The pair careen into an interesting pack of new allies too, including one-eyed Malady Falco and her gang of gun-toting G’hals, and Silas, a shady smuggler piloting a rust-bucket of a ship. Behind all the action there is another presence too, a hidden force that seems to thrive on possibility, and which might be the key to seeing Ten and Gabi escape their ordeal alive. Highly recommended, Western, space opera thriller.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    6/13/2021 Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 6/14/2021 Welcome to one of the last planets on the outskirts of the galaxy: the low-oxygen, mostly desert, way out of the way Factus. This dusty little outpost didn't take a side in the war between the Accord and the Free Limits, not that either power had much use for the waterless wasteland anyway. With the FL defeated, the Accord has half-heartedly taken to administering Factus, but their forces are spread thin and lawlessness is the norm. 6/13/2021 Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 6/14/2021 Welcome to one of the last planets on the outskirts of the galaxy: the low-oxygen, mostly desert, way out of the way Factus. This dusty little outpost didn't take a side in the war between the Accord and the Free Limits, not that either power had much use for the waterless wasteland anyway. With the FL defeated, the Accord has half-heartedly taken to administering Factus, but their forces are spread thin and lawlessness is the norm. So it's the perfect place for an ex-army medic named Ten Low to travel the barrens, trying to atone for her sins during the war by saving lives now, no questions asked. When Ten witnesses a fiery crash in the desert, she's the first person on-scene. There's only one survivor, a young girl Ten knows she has to get out of the wreckage before the Seekers, a cult feared for their allegiance to the strange beings that live in the wilds of Factus, come and find them. But Seekers aren't the deadliest threat to Ten or to the girl, who turns out to be the fearsome, decorated General Gabriella Ortiz of the Accord, a child-soldier specifically engineered for warfare. Once the General regains consciousness, she demands Ten bring her to the closest Accord base. But treachery soon has the duo on the run from military hit squads, bandits and worse, as Ten's purpose narrows to this one thing: getting the General to safety no matter what the cost. Ten Low has been compared to Dune, but I think a much more accurate comparison is to Mad Max, with a strong dash of Firefly. Ten fights the voices in her head, desperately determined to do the right thing in a post-war setting reminiscent of George Miller's desert Australia as his series progresses. The insertion of a cool quantum physical aspect to the spirits that haunt Factus adds an even headier scientific aspect to what's essentially a road trip Western undertaken by two people who don't much like one another. The General isn't afraid to use her seeming childlike innocence to her advantage, and Ten's dislike of the high-handed military commander is tempered by her meditations on what it means and what it must have cost to be molded into that form. The conversations between the two on military service are one of the highlights of this book: both went into it with the highest of ideals but now have vastly differing viewpoints. I'm rather hoping for a sequel, as I think there's a lot of potential story to be explored as Ten embraces her connection to Factus' monsters. The world-building is excellent, tho let's be real: I've never met a Space/Weird Western I haven't liked. That said, Stark Holborn is one of the best current writers in the genre, with a knack for adding high concept science and math to the proceedings. More please! Ten Low by Stark Holborn was published June 8 2021 by Titan Press and is available from all good booksellers, including Bookshop!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leanne Mullaney

    When Stark contacted me and offered me a copy of her book I was beyond excited as it sounded so good. Thank you so much Stark and Titan books for sending me a copy. I have to admit I was a quite nervous I wouldn't like it as I am still relatively new to the SF genre but I honestly needn't have worried!! I absolutely loved it!! This book is told from our main protagonist Ten Low's POV ... Ten Low was amazing - I literally loved being in her head, she was such a complex and interesting character. Lo When Stark contacted me and offered me a copy of her book I was beyond excited as it sounded so good. Thank you so much Stark and Titan books for sending me a copy. I have to admit I was a quite nervous I wouldn't like it as I am still relatively new to the SF genre but I honestly needn't have worried!! I absolutely loved it!! This book is told from our main protagonist Ten Low's POV ... Ten Low was amazing - I literally loved being in her head, she was such a complex and interesting character. Low is an ex-con and former army medic who is on the loosing side of an interstellar war. Barely surviving on Factus, a remote moon on the edge of the universe, Low is attempting to make up for all the crimes of her past by providing basic medical help to others in need whilst trying to hide from the authorities. One day Low finds herself rescuing a girl from a spaceship crash - but this young girl is no ordinary girl ... she is a genetically modified child soldier and general ... who also happens to be on the opposite side of the war that Low fought on. The two obviously don't get along with the general seeing Low as a traitor but after realising they both need the help of the other they strike a deal that benefits them both .... however ... everything doesn't quite go to plan and they soon find themselves in one dangerous situation after another. There is so much more I could add but you know, spoilers!! I really don't want to risk saying too much. Overall, this book was a fast paced, atmospheric, action packed read with a brilliant cast of characters (good, bad and morally gray) fab world building and is so gripping you will struggle to stop reading! Also I just want to add that I loved Malady Falco and her G'hals! ... LOVED THEM! I can't wait to check out more of Stark's work!! I highly recommend this one!!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Watts

    Thank you to Stark for sending me an advance copy! This was a thoroughly enjoyable western style sci-fi story set on a desert planet - compare a book to firefly & the mandalorian and I KNOW I’m going to love it! I loved Stark’s writing style & gentle worldbuilding - I immediately felt immersed in the story & found the twists well placed and unexpected. The female-lead set of characters was absolutely brilliant - think powerful, unyielding women running towns & breaking out of prison-type-characters Thank you to Stark for sending me an advance copy! This was a thoroughly enjoyable western style sci-fi story set on a desert planet - compare a book to firefly & the mandalorian and I KNOW I’m going to love it! I loved Stark’s writing style & gentle worldbuilding - I immediately felt immersed in the story & found the twists well placed and unexpected. The female-lead set of characters was absolutely brilliant - think powerful, unyielding women running towns & breaking out of prison-type-characters. YES! Absolutely loved reading this & I’d love to return to this universe to explore more planets! Most definitely one to preorder.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Thank you to NetGalley and Titan for the ARC. This in no way impacted my review. Wow. Just… wow. This was just really, really good. Ten Low is an ex-convict, a former medic on the losing side of an interstellar war trying to eke out a living and atone for the crimes she committed. Living out on Factus, a barren moon on the edge of law-abiding space, she finds plenty opportunities to work off her tally – all the while being haunted by them, a presence that has a special interest in her. Her path cr Thank you to NetGalley and Titan for the ARC. This in no way impacted my review. Wow. Just… wow. This was just really, really good. Ten Low is an ex-convict, a former medic on the losing side of an interstellar war trying to eke out a living and atone for the crimes she committed. Living out on Factus, a barren moon on the edge of law-abiding space, she finds plenty opportunities to work off her tally – all the while being haunted by them, a presence that has a special interest in her. Her path crosses with Gabriella Ortiz, a child soldier from the opposing side of the war. Gabriella has been genetically engineered, is a decorated general and quite the force to be reckoned with. When it becomes clear that she is in danger, Ten takes on the challenge of keeping Gabriella alive and thus begins a thrilling journey across Factus aided by gangsters and smugglers. Ten’s story is a compelling one, told from her point of view with her backstory fed in drips. She’s a likable character, despite the shadows of her past – and boy, are they some dark shadows. It’s not just her story though, but Gabriella’s too, and their not-quite-hatred-not-quite-friendship bond drives the plot forward through twists and turns, leaping from one high-stakes situation to the next. The tension never quite lets up – and I wouldn’t have wanted it to. It’s the sort of book that’s exactly the right length: never dragging, always surging on, and yet, still leaving you wanting more. The queernorm world of Ten Low is bleak and cruel and dangerous, but there’s still a kernel of hope buried deep beneath the surface, because even in this world people live and love. They’re friends, lovers (Mala/Peg <3)), family – and to see that still exist even though life is hard, food and water scarce, that’s something that the book does really well. Five stars. And I repeat. Wow.

  24. 5 out of 5

    T.O. Munro

    An excellent fast paced tale with a fresh, if bitter, protagonist. Full review will follow on the fantasy-hive in May.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Alicia White

    Ten Low is a former army medic who fought on the losing side of an interstellar civil war. Ten was given her name after being sentenced to ten years in prison for the crimes she committed during that conflict. She's now barely surviving on a harsh desert moon called Factus which has barely enough water and oxygen to sustain life. She works to save the lives of others in order to even out the "tally" she racked up, trying to balance the scales for the lives lost as a result of her actions during Ten Low is a former army medic who fought on the losing side of an interstellar civil war. Ten was given her name after being sentenced to ten years in prison for the crimes she committed during that conflict. She's now barely surviving on a harsh desert moon called Factus which has barely enough water and oxygen to sustain life. She works to save the lives of others in order to even out the "tally" she racked up, trying to balance the scales for the lives lost as a result of her actions during the war. One day, Ten sees a ship crash in the desert and she pulls the lone survivor from the wreckage. It's a young girl named Gabriel Ortiz. But, she's not just any girl. she is the product of a secret military program that turns young orphans into skilled military leaders using technological implants and strict indoctrination. Even though she's just 13 years old, she's a highly decorated general who helped win the war that Ten's side lost. Ten quickly discovers that the crash was no accident: it was an assassination attempt on the General's life. She and the young General, her former enemy, now must work together to escape across the barren landscape of Factus to smuggle the girl off-world but it won't be easy. Factus is hostile to life and is full of military hit squads, bandits and criminal gangs. One of the reasons why I liked it so much was because it had great characters and action. Ten seems to be more than just a former army medic. She's bitter and angry at where's she ended up (and who wouldn't be stuck in a place like Factus?). To be honest, she isn't very likable at first. It isn't clear at first *why* she tries so hard to help people, why she cares so much about the other people unfortunate enough to be stuck there with her or how she ended up where she is. That's one of the mysteries that unfolds as the story goes along. You learn more about Ten and the thirteen year old General and you learn to care about them both. The fights are exciting and will have you on the edge of your seat. There were points when I literally couldn't put the book down. I also really liked the people in this story: Ten, the General, and the other characters you meet along the way. They are complex with some well thought out back stories that give them some depth. My only complaint about the book is the pacing. Instead of chapters to break up the story, the book is divided into four sections. The book is over 300 pages long and, without those expected chapter breaks in the story, some parts seemed to drag on a little too long. But, the action sequences make up for that. I received an advance copy of the ebook in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.com. My rating for this book is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. If you're a fan of gritty, harsh dystopian environments like Mad Max and Firefly, you'll like this story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alicia White

    Ten Low is a former army medic who fought on the losing side of an interstellar civil war. Ten was given her name after being sentenced to ten years in prison for the crimes she committed during that conflict. She's now barely surviving on a harsh desert moon called Factus which has barely enough water and oxygen to sustain life. She works to save the lives of others in order to even out the "tally" she racked up, trying to balance the scales for the lives lost as a result of her actions during Ten Low is a former army medic who fought on the losing side of an interstellar civil war. Ten was given her name after being sentenced to ten years in prison for the crimes she committed during that conflict. She's now barely surviving on a harsh desert moon called Factus which has barely enough water and oxygen to sustain life. She works to save the lives of others in order to even out the "tally" she racked up, trying to balance the scales for the lives lost as a result of her actions during the war. One day, Ten sees a ship crash in the desert and she pulls the lone survivor from the wreckage. It's a young girl named Gabriel Ortiz. But, she's not just any girl. she is the product of a secret military program that turns young orphans into skilled military leaders using technological implants and strict indoctrination. Even though she's just 13 years old, she's a highly decorated general who helped win the war that Ten's side lost. Ten quickly discovers that the crash was no accident: it was an assassination attempt on the General's life. She and the young General, her former enemy, now must work together to escape across the barren landscape of Factus to smuggle the girl off-world but it won't be easy. Factus is hostile to life and is full of military hit squads, bandits and criminal gangs. One of the reasons why I liked it so much was because it had great characters and action. Ten seems to be more than just a former army medic. She's bitter and angry at where's she ended up (and who wouldn't be stuck in a place like Factus?). To be honest, she isn't very likable at first. It isn't clear at first *why* she tries so hard to help people, why she cares so much about the other people unfortunate enough to be stuck there with her or how she ended up where she is. That's one of the mysteries that unfolds as the story goes along. You learn more about Ten and the thirteen year old General and you learn to care about them both. The fights are exciting and will have you on the edge of your seat. There were points when I literally couldn't put the book down. I also really liked the people in this story: Ten, the General, and the other characters you meet along the way. They are complex with some well thought out back stories that give them some depth. My only complaint about the book is the pacing. Instead of chapters to break up the story, the book is divided into four sections. The book is over 300 pages long and, without those expected chapter breaks in the story, some parts seemed to drag on a little too long. But, the action sequences make up for that. I received an advance copy of the ebook in exchange for my honest review from NetGalley.com. My rating for this book is a solid 4 out of 5 stars. If you're a fan of gritty, harsh dystopian environments like Mad Max and Firefly, you'll like this story.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Chi Lough

    Review now live at Grimdark Magazine https://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/revi... Chaos reigns at the edge of the universe. Ruling in second are all the outlaws. Ten Low by Stark Holborn is the story of an ex-convict known as Ten, and her desperate plight for redemption. Ten Low takes place on the desolate moon, Factus. This barren land is scarcely habitable, but surviving its harsh terrain is only the first battle. Yellow rot plaques its inhabitants. Organ-stealing cults hunt the rest. There is a for Review now live at Grimdark Magazine https://www.grimdarkmagazine.com/revi... Chaos reigns at the edge of the universe. Ruling in second are all the outlaws. Ten Low by Stark Holborn is the story of an ex-convict known as Ten, and her desperate plight for redemption. Ten Low takes place on the desolate moon, Factus. This barren land is scarcely habitable, but surviving its harsh terrain is only the first battle. Yellow rot plaques its inhabitants. Organ-stealing cults hunt the rest. There is a force or demon that manipulates the fate of those living here, distorting reality and possibility. Only those with no other choice would dare seek refuge in this wasteland. Yet here, Ten hides from the Authority of Accorded Nations and the bounty on her head. Ten lives for a tally. Using her skills as a medic, her life mission is to save as many lives as possible. She keeps track of this number, counting each life as if her very own depended on it. At first, her criminal past is shrouded in mystery. We don’t know the full extent of her charges nor why she is compelled to this penance. Her guilt-ridden conscious rarely permitting her to self-reflect, we only get scraps of history to piece together throughout Ten Low. I loved learning more about this conflicted character. Ten Low begins when Ten witnesses a ship crashing from the sky. She scours through the wreckage and rescues a young girl. To Ten’s dismay, she discovers that not only does this girl belong to the Accord, but she is a General from the Minority Force. A group of genetically crafted super soldiers designed to be the Accord’s greatest asset. They discover the crash was no mere accident, the young human weapon is now the hunted. “How to explain to this child, who is no longer a child, that the tally is all? That it matters over compassion or fear, that it drives me more than the threat of arrest ever could?” Ten Low is bleak. The novel challenges us to question whether we control our own lives. It destroys romantic ideologies and replaces them with the importance of atonement. The real story begins when everything seems impossible. From the quarter of this book and on, the pace of Ten Low is light breaking. I’m not sure if I read or inhaled all the grit and twisted turns of this novel. Its story is a violent course of Dune and Mad Max. I hope we see more of Ten in a sequel. Her story is captivating and ended far too soon.

  28. 4 out of 5

    astaliegurec

    2.0 out of 5 stars Almost Adequate July 29, 2021 At first, I was somewhat intrigued with Stark Holborn's 2021 novel [[ISBN:9781789096637 "Ten Low"]]. The story was OK with some interesting world-building and most of the characters were well done (except for "The General," whose personality makes no sense). Then, around half-way through, the wheels start to come off: things happening that don't make sense, people doing stupid things, totally silly improbabilities, etc.. Near the beginning, I was rea 2.0 out of 5 stars Almost Adequate July 29, 2021 At first, I was somewhat intrigued with Stark Holborn's 2021 novel [[ISBN:9781789096637 "Ten Low"]]. The story was OK with some interesting world-building and most of the characters were well done (except for "The General," whose personality makes no sense). Then, around half-way through, the wheels start to come off: things happening that don't make sense, people doing stupid things, totally silly improbabilities, etc.. Near the beginning, I was ready to rate the book at an OK 3 stars out of 5. But, by the end, my feeling for the book had declined so far that I felt I ought to compromise UP to a Pretty Bad 2 stars out of 5 just because the start was interesting enough. Besides the lack of sense at the end, here are some of the other issues I had: - There's no explanation given for two central, physical aspects of the book's universe. - Half the time, for no rhyme or reason, the author uses various forms of the plural "they" instead of the singulars like "he" or "she." The use of the wrong pronoun isn't even consistent per person. - The plot basically consists of the protagonist running across something that she thinks needs doing, encountering escalating disaster after disaster until it's done and then repeating that process a couple more times. - As the disasters noted above escalate, the main characters find themselves in a very bad situation near the end of the book. So, they decide to get drunk. - At the 77% point, we're treated to this gem: "A whole system of people scattered from every [expletive] corner of old Earth and there are still some white people who want to see us under their boot." WTF?!? As far as I can tell, nowhere else in the book besides this single racist statement out of the blue by the author is there any mention of race, let alone racism. Plus, the whole premise of the book is that just about everyone/everything in this universe wants to get everyone/everything else "under their boot." - Near the end, the author introduces a character backed by the "Insurers" or "Underwriters." Supposedly, that group is the most powerful and evil group in the book. Yet, it's never mentioned before or afterward and there's nothing in the book that anyone would want to insure or underwrite. So, no. Don't bother reading this book. It's not horrible. But, it's not worth the time, either.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Swords & Spectres

    I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've never tried a book by Stark Holborn before, so wasn't entirely sure what I was in for. Now I know, I'm more than tempted to try more of her work. Ten Low was a fast-paced, fun, punchy bit of science fiction filled with intriguing characters, an interesting world and a dab of the unknown that served as the cherry on top of a damn tasty book. I loved everything about Ten Low and want more from it. I'm uncertain as to whether there I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've never tried a book by Stark Holborn before, so wasn't entirely sure what I was in for. Now I know, I'm more than tempted to try more of her work. Ten Low was a fast-paced, fun, punchy bit of science fiction filled with intriguing characters, an interesting world and a dab of the unknown that served as the cherry on top of a damn tasty book. I loved everything about Ten Low and want more from it. I'm uncertain as to whether there will be more as this fits into that niche of 'sits really well as a stand alone, but has the potential for a book or two more without feeling like there'd be a dead horse for the flogging'. I'm firmly in the camp of 'I hope there's more'. The world building was simple yet effective and happened as it happened. In some books that could leave the reader feeling like they were being bombarded with names and locations that felt as though they were being made up on the fly. With Ten Low, Holborn drip fed bits and reinforced later, giving it the feeling of a world you already knew but had kind of just forgot. It was certainly a nice feel that fit in well with the fast-paced storytelling and never had the action feel bogged down by too much explaining of when and where everything was. For a relatively short book (my copy had fairly large font with what looked like 1.5 line spacing) the author manages to fit in more story than the page count feels as though it's capable of holding, whilst all the while leaving opportunities open for more. Everything from character interactions and character growth, to high-octane action and intriguing plot developments can be found within. The character of Ten Low, in particular, is one of the more interesting I have come across for a while, and that was certainly something I wasn't expecting. If you're after a book with a strong female lead and an inclusive feel over all, Ten Low is certainly the sort of book you need to give a try. Overall, Ten Low was one of the more enjoyable science fiction novels I have read in a good while. I think this was even more enjoyable to me as it was one of those books that gave me the joy of discovering a new author and it had flown under the radar for me and just hit, full force, with a lot of enjoyment.  Top marks from me.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susanna

    Ten Low is a stand-alone sci-fi novel by Stark Holborn. It takes place in not-so-distant future from earth at the edge of the universe, on a badly terraformed moon that’s basically a desert. People fleeing from the dominant political force, the Accord, and ex-convicts try to make the most of the meagre reserves they have. It’s a desolate, violent place where bandits and protectors alike prey on the weak. And the most feared of all are the Seekers who harvest the organs of the dying. But the human Ten Low is a stand-alone sci-fi novel by Stark Holborn. It takes place in not-so-distant future from earth at the edge of the universe, on a badly terraformed moon that’s basically a desert. People fleeing from the dominant political force, the Accord, and ex-convicts try to make the most of the meagre reserves they have. It’s a desolate, violent place where bandits and protectors alike prey on the weak. And the most feared of all are the Seekers who harvest the organs of the dying. But the humans know they’re not alone on the moon. There are beings no one can see and only a few can sense; beings of potential and chaos, who feast on human will. They were there first. And they are very interested in some humans, like Ten Low. Ten is an escaped convict, a former army medic with a past she’s trying to atone by striving to save as many lives as she can, and never kill again. One night, the beings give her a vision of potential futures. Compelled to follow the path they show her, she ends up saving an enemy general, a genetically enhanced child soldier, Gabi. The story follows the pair as they try to make it to safety through a hostile terrain where safety is only an illusion. Ten is on an inner journey as well, as she begins to trust the beings that guide her steps, for reasons that she doesn’t understand. Little by little we learn what she has done to earn her sentence and why she’s atoning. And little by little it dawns on her that the atonement is not what she thought it would be. This was a great book. It’s a blend of sci-fi, western dystopia, and paranormal. It’s told solely from Ten’s point of view, and she’s strong enough to carry the narrative, though it leaves the side characters, even Gabi, slightly vague. The world is gritty and dry, and the action is plenty. As the story progresses, the paranormal side takes over more and more, creating improbabilities that nonetheless become realities. And somehow it works. Really well. If you want your Firefly (sans spaceships) with a hefty dose of mystical, this is for you. I received a free copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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