The Choice of Weapons (The First Raoke Gang Novella), by Alex Valdiers

30 Dec 2023

The Book

The Choice of Weapons
Series: The Raoke Gang
Pages: 99
Age Group: Adult
Published on 29 Aug 2023
Publisher: Self-Published
Available on:


Ren is an officer on the rise, going from planetary conquest to conquest, until he crosses path with a senior female officer from his native Japan. His meeting with Izuna ends in a bloody duel — the first of many. As the war against other species progresses, Ren’s obsession for Izuna grows and his discontentment for army life along with it. When Izuna gets isolated on an icy hell, Ren volunteers to rescue her for what may be his ultimate mission.

The Raoke Gang series is prime entertainment with heart and brains, humor and sex (occasionally, when the story commands it), and, most of all, incredible characters running wild in the most exciting of settings: the Far West in space!  

My Review

The Choice of Weapons is the novella that kick starts the Raoke Gang series, a science fantasy proposal which drinks from influences such as Japanese culture and Western films, written by Alex Valdiers. We will be following Satoshi Ren, a military officer whose career is on the rise, conquering planet after planet, and whose life changes after crossing his path with Izuna, a senior officer from his native Japan.

From this moment, Izuna grows as a persistent obsession for Ren, a piece that ties him to the duels they had and to the land he misses since he entered the army; not surprising, this obsession ends leading to a duel between both. A scene where Valdiers shows his competence for writing those kinds of scenes, making it vivid and spectacular from the perspective of a spectator; a fight that ends with Ren's being hurt, but changing him on the inside.

It is interesting to see how this duel, despite costing Ren a part of his life expectance, ignites something inside him; passion for life, for doing things, creating a discontent that will progressively evolve towards the military life. With all of this in mind, when a mission is proposed that would involve rescuing Izuna from an icy hell, Ren volunteers to accomplish it.

The relationship between Izuna and Ren plays a key role in the whole plot, a relationship that definitely changes after the duel; even in the icy mission, we see how Ren has changed (and one could say even maturate). Those immobile codes that are part of the military culture, and even some that are rooted in the one Japanese tradition, are defied with all that he has experienced.

I personally enjoyed this novella, as there is some much potential in this world, and it serves as a way to introduce us to the Raoke Gang; however, I must say there are some rough edges in the pacing territory, especially when the characters get lost in their own soliloquy. They have a role, but I feel they could have been spread more evenly alongside the narration.

In general, I found The Choice of Weapons to be a really cinematic novella, which has some clear influences and that embraces them to make a great read; I can't wait to continue read more in this universe.

Disclaimer: This novella has been read as part of the SFINCS. This review/rating only represents my personal opinion and it might differ with what the team decides.

The Author/s

Alex Valdiers

Alex Valdiers

Alex Valdiers is a French indie Space Western Fantasy author of Laotian descent who currently lives in the South of England. The lack of a suitable platform and market for French Fantasy prompted Valdiers to move to the UK in 2012. After years of practice, his debut novella The Choice of Weapons, the first Raoke Gang novella, was released in August 2023. It is currently a SFINCS semi-finalist. His debut novel, A Wolf in Space, the first Raoke Gang novel, comes out on January 23rd. Valdiers aims to publish another two Raoke Gang novels before 2024 is over.