**UPDATE: Stephen surprised us by releasing the books early! What a wonderful treat. Read on to find out why you want them . . .
If you've read Stephen Fender's The Army of Light (Kestrel Saga), the announcement of the release of its follow-up, Icarus, should make you pretty happy.
For those of you who haven't yet discovered Fender's books (ranked #2 on Amazon in the category of Science Fiction: Space Opera), you're in for a treat. Not only is Icarus scheduled for release in all formats at the end of September, but The Army of Light will now be available in hardcover, upgraded inside and out, as part of the celebration.
Shawn Kestrel is ex-military—a former fighter pilot whose current goal in life is to deliver his interstellar cargo without getting shot at, robbed by pirates, or threatened by sleazy arms dealers. Oh, and it would be wonderful if his ship didn't need so many repairs, since repairs need spare parts, parts cost money, and money isn't forthcoming when shipments are stolen.
Of course his semi-peaceful existence is shattered by a woman. (Isn't every man's?) Not just any woman, though: Melissa Graves, the daughter of his former commanding officer, arrives out of the blue, seeking Kestrel's help to find her missing father and to find out whether the Kafarans really are active and threatening war again.
I love the interplay between all the characters: Kestrel and Graves remind me of Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis' characters on the old TV show, Moonlighting. She's uptight and bossy, and he's a smart aleck who, though not a strict rule-follower, nevertheless is a good man. I'm pretty sure I'd enjoy hanging out with him. Side characters like Kestrel's mechanic are enjoyable, and all the characters are written with depth and personality. The dialogue flows very naturally and never feels stilted.
Icarus picks up right where The Army of Light leaves off—only hours later, in fact—and just keeps rolling right along. Shawn's life takes an interesting turn as he's recruited back into Sector Command and placed as the head of an elite squadron of starfighters, just as the crew discovers the remainder of a ship from Sector Command's missing fleet.
You'll have to read the rest for yourself, because my description can't possibly do justice to all the good guys, bad guys, space fights, fist fights, eye rolling, witty banter, explosions and aliens.
Find Stephen Fender on his website, www.stephenfender.com; on Lulu.com; on Facebook; or on Amazon to get these great books for yourself.