Behind Blue Skies is the second release in JS Morin's Mercy For Hire series, set in the Black Ocean universe, continues the adventures of the wizard Esper and her not dog sidekick Kubu as they attempt to hide from the Convocation on a tiny colony surrounded by fresh air and farmland. Of course this can't be peace and quiet (honestly, does anyone want to read a book where the heroes rest, relax and enjoy themselves like, oh say, normal people? Of course not - we want adventure), and they quickly find themselves helping out another underdog, and once more missing the entire point of being a bounty hunter - which is getting paid!).
Being in the middle of the series, this is not a good jumping on point, as you are expected to know the main characters already. That is not a flaw in the book, and being a sequel to a sequel, Morin is able to avoid not only introducing the heroes, but also having to tie this in to his other books. So, where Esper ends up seeking <spoiler for Wayward Saint> help from some of her friends from the Mobius </spoiler> in the previous book (which helps to tie this into the overall series and universe), now she and Kubu stand alone.
This reminds me of some of the first episodes of the Star Trek sequels - Next Generation had a cameo by DeForest Kelley as McCoy in the first episode and Voyager started out stopping by Deep Space Nine. But now it is time to stretch it's wings and stand alone.
Once again Morin spins a cinematic story that feels more like a good tv show than a book. I'm not sure exactly how he does it, but reading this feels more like watching the story unfold on a screen before me, the characters, background and action are so vividly described. Even to the point of breaking the plot down into acts where, even though it is not separated into chapters, it feels like natural points where the commercials would interrupt the story. Even to the point of having a scene before the opening credits as it were. (As a teenager watching reruns of the original Star Trek after school every day, I made it a game to be able to identify the title of every episode solely by the scene before the title.)
It even follow some standard tropes, <spoiler> introducing characters early on who then don't appear for quite awhile, only to return to become major factors in the plot</spoiler>. Even the inevitable climax <spoiler> and surprise </spoiler> felt familiar in a good way - nicely set up that while unexpected, did not leave me feeling cheated because so many clues led up to it (making it fairly obvious in hind sight).
Once again I have to say that Kubu is my favorite character, by far. While his motivations in general are simpler (he is, after all, still growing and not yet an adult), he does have some deeper emotions and complexities that his appearances would show. Even though he can eat almost everything, he is learning more and more that he shouldn't eat everything (Don't eat pets. Pets are not food. But sometimes food is a pet?)
A light story, which did manage to have some relevance to current real world headlines (it kind of amazed me how it could touch some current events, when I know it had to have been written at least weeks, if not months, before these headlines came appeared), but no heavy message, I found it a very enjoyable read. Not quite in the category of "can't put it down", it still left me eager for the next next episode / mission / sequel. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
Because it is all fun and games . . .
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