Eighteen year old Ishmael Horatio Wang was to start University, where his mother taught, on Neris. Then like the breeze, his life drasticly changes with a series of bad news, starting with his mother's death in a flitter accident. In order to stay on Neris, a company planet, he has to find work. There is no work for him. Even though he and his mom lived comfortably, there is no credits for Ishmael. Even with his one time payment for 90 days rent, he's still short to pay for transport off planet. Needing a job to get off planet with his lack of skills for Neris work, he makes a quick friend at the Union Hall who helps Ishmail enters work on a freighter ship at Quarter Share, the lowest rating level and pay at starts. But, Ishmael has a quick mind and learns fast.
First I want to mention. I've been wanting to read or listen to this story for over a year now, since I heard about it at Balticon 2012. However, I was afraid I'd be bored as well, so I dragged my feet at getting to it. That was a mistake. Thanks to a small push from View from Valhalla, I dove in and listened while working the day away at the office. I found myself getting irritated at people when they started talking to loud (there are only 3 of us in the office) as I wanted to hear EVERYTHING that was happening. And thankfully, my desk was on the quieter side with the phone these days.
The story is in First person, which I don't read very often. I got nervous when the story started in the first podcast, but I quickly found I enjoyed hearing from Ishmael and it really drew me to his character. Made him friendly to me.
One of Ishmael's talents is making quick friends. Even though he has limited friends on Neris, people seem to take a quick liking to him in the freighter business. My heart went out to Ishmael. He's young and new to the world outside of his comfort zone at home. My heart twinged a bit for him as he faced what he had with his mothers unexpected death and left home for the first time, alone. Yet he's smart. He downloads things what he can on his mothers account at the University so he can keep studying. Ish starts in the mess hall cleaning up. But the chef has an insight of Ish's personality with a quick test of the thick, grimy coffee test. The kid has initiative. And there could be a great deal more in his future, if only he knew what he wanted to do. But Ish takes that and runs with it as well. He wants to learn everything to see what he wants to do. And he does it!
To me this is a tale from a commoner's position. Ish is no superhero but this is what drew me to the story more. I liked the mention of common things. Oh, poor kid and his mothers underwear drawer. lol. They are quick mentions, not ones to bog down the story and slow it, but brings the feel of normal life to the forefront as well. Makes the story feel closer to real and Ish as a person to me. Even the work that Ish does is common stuff, but Nathan draws you in to the characters in an amazing way. I never thought common everyday things could be interesting. And they are! Because of the sparking mind of Ishmael.
One thing I learned here, even the little things we take for granted (even as simple as coffee) means a great deal to others. Ish's small actions accent this and by the end of this book, you see how much he's raised the whole crews spirits in such a short time.
I enjoyed the characters surrounding Ish. This crew is one kind group and they enjoy what they do here, you can tell the captain and her staff make this a comfortable place to be. I want to stay here! There is humor with the characters and they do make me smile. I've become curious about the whole crew, even the Captain and what history she may have for us to learn.
The set up of rating and shares earned are rather interesting and Ish thinks broader and takes it all to a new thinking and level. One you admire him for. Ish learns a great deal and influences others in the same share. Well thought out and constructed system here. The universe is interesting and each planet has it's specialty of product. We learn the universe through trade, which Pip and Ish heavily get involved in. Well defined worlds on each planet and a rather well oiled system to earnings.
I don't know how to explain it. It's not the end of world battles and wars I'm use to. But I couldn't stop listening to know how their lives go. I'd become caught up with Ish and his pal Pip along with the other crew members.
I found I kept wanting Ish to succeed in the trade and on the ship. Rooting for Ish to succeed and strive for more. Not only for him, but to see more of this world and the characters. The tale of a common man making his way in the world, influencing those around him as he goes. How one man can make such a huge difference. I found I really enjoyed this traders tale. Learning of different worlds through their trades.