Science Fiction

SPSFC Semifinalist Review: Heritage by S.M. Warlow

Well well, here we are in the semifinalist round! If you haven’t been following along, I’m a member of team At Boundary’s Edge and like to post my individual reviews.  My opinions are mine alone and don’t reflect those of the team nor anyone else.  Anyway, let’s look at the book then you can see my first review out of six to come before the end of April!

Bookish quick facts:
  • Title: Heritage
  • Series: Tales of the Phoenix Titan, #1
  • Author: S.M. Warlow
  • Publisher & Release: Self, 2022
  • Length: 622 pages
  • SPSFC score: 6/10
Here’s the synopsis from Am*zon:

Heritage is the debut novel from S.M. Warlow and the first instalment of the Tales of the Phoenix Titan series. This space opera is perfect for fans of Firefly, the Expanse, Star Wars and Mass Effect.

Make them proud, son of Earth.

25 years after the fall of Earth, the Commonwealth is locked in a vicious, galaxy-spanning war against the Revenant. Countless worlds have been lost in the fighting, and now one crew must come together and stand in the way of galactic annihilation.

Nathan Carter is an efficient criminal, but when he’s hired to steal supplies from a Commonwealth warship, what starts as an easy job soon transforms into something that could change the course of history. Now, Nathan must work with a group of unlikely allies to protect a woman whose heritage is the key to everything.

My thoughts:

One sentence TLDR: this is a good space opera adventure with plenty of action that had an unfortunately rough editing & presentation.  

The thing with Heritage is that while I genuinely enjoyed the plot, this is a 622 page long book that is absolutely riddled with presentation issues. There are punctuation typos involving commas, colons, and semicolons on every single page. The book repeats itself constantly and the character names keep changing spelling.


My last gripe is that the text changed sizes inconsistently to emphasize inner monologue, epigraphs, and anything else the author thought should stand out. Anything structurally, I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to my EPub reader.

So now let’s pretend that all didn’t happen and talk about the story itself.

The plot is interesting.  We get to see a crew come together and meet quite a few different species of intelligent life.  Everything from cats that can operate sniper rifles with giant paws (what?) to doglike creatures, human types, droids, and many others.  The book certainly isn’t hurting for alien diversity. Between the ships and weapons and history there is a lot of good sci-fi material in there too.

There are many different plot lines to keep things moving.  Some are political and hint at conspiracy.  Others involve drawing moral similarities between different warring factions.  We are tracking down alien artifacts, building a crew, fighting bad guys, pulling off heists; there’s a lot going on.

(That’s a semicolon, in this case used like a super comma to designate a similar main clause that needs more separation than another comma could indicate).

There were a ton of characters too.  I wasn’t believing the romantic aspects but other than that, I liked the crew.  They worked together well despite being from different backgrounds and formed a fairly interesting dynamic.

My last main point is about the quasi cliffhanger. I’d love to read the next book to find out what happens, but I’m not a big enough fan of cliffhangers to read forward unless some form of editing is going to be involved.  I’d like a little more closure from Vol, Russell, and Gordon for where they are going next.  Also I really don’t think Jack’s storyline got enough closure for the amount of time we spent repeatedly hearing about it.

Would recommend for space opera fans that can take the editing

Thanks for checking out my SPSFC book review of Heritage by S.M. Warlow.  I was provided an e-copy for judging purposes and as always, all opinions are my own. Stay tuned for more team reviews!