Courage Iro will shatter the Gates of Power to protect his fleet.
Born talentless, Iro has all but resigned himself to a life of drudgery, watching his sister hop across to the massive space titan for supplies. But when the titan explodes and his sister is killed, Iro finds a new determination to take her place. He’s not about to let weakness prevent him.
When the fleet encounters a new titan, filled with powerful monsters, deadly traps, and mysterious cloaked figures, Iro is the first to spontaneously manifest a new talent. Now sent to a different ship, to train with others far beyond his strength, Iro will have to train twice as hard just to catch up.
To protect his fleet, and to uncover the mysteries of the titans, Iro won’t just open the Gates of Power. He’ll break them.
A progression sci-fantasy perfect for fans of Cradle and Iron Prince.
Disclaimer: This rating may differ from what the team might give to the book. This post only reflects my personal opinion.
Titan Hoppers marks the start of a new science-fantasy series, written by Rob J. Hayes. It was one of my most anticipated reads since the slush pile phase on the SPSFC2, and almost devoured it, because it's a really hooking story, and that is greatly written. We are going to be following Courage Iro during its progression from being a talentless tech boy to becoming a Hopper.
The story starts in a really explosive way, portraying how the Titan 1 gets destroyed, eliminating a great number of Hoppers, including Iro's sister among them. The fleet gets forced to continue its travel, looking for a new Titan they can raid to get resources, in order to maintain the ships; and with this situation is how Iro's arc starts, with him renouncing to be a Hopper, as he seems unable to manifest a talent.
After some years, the fleet encounters a new titan, filled with new monsters and traps. Iro accidentally gets into the first Hop, manifesting a talent, which marks the start of his path as a Hopper. Basically, we will continue to be spectators of how Iro progresses towards this path, adapting to new colleagues, new responsibilities, and a new ship.
I have to admit that I loved the premise and the world Hayes creates for the use of this novel. The whole concept of scavenging ancient titans, having to fight with monsters, and dealing with traps is really attractive, making the expeditions one of the most interesting parts of the story. We can't forget the nomad fleet, with several ships, ordered by their importance, and that is in the need of these resources they get from Titans, making Hoppers exceptionally important in the ship's social scale.
The discussion on how some ships might be abandoned to ensure others could survive, and how the inhabitants of the bigger ships see themselves as superior to others are also interesting elements of the narrative, adding an extra layer of complexity to the narrative.
Personally, I feel the elements that worked worse for me were the ones that are inherent to the progression fantasy genre. While I understand the whole process of improving, and how it is analog to the level up on videogames/rpgs, in my opinion, they were one of my main gripes with the novel, as they felt kinda unnatural to it. Sometimes it felt really forced into a story that would work perfectly without them, because the premise is really interesting.
Titan Hoppers is a great novel, which is really well written, but again, I feel it could have been slightly better without the elements that progression fantasy requires, such as classes and level-ups. If you love this particular genre, this is an excellent book, and even if you are not really a lover of it, if you like giant titans, complex explorations, and explosive action scenes, this is a great book for you.
Rob J. Hayes
Winner of Mark Lawrence’s 3rd Self Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO) with Where Loyalties Lie
Rob J. Hayes has been a student, a banker, a marine research assistant, a chef, and a keyboard monkey more times than he cares to count. But eventually his love of fantasy and reading drew him to the life of a writer. He’s the author of the Amazon Best Selling The Heresy Within, the SPFBO-winning piratical swashbuckler Where Loyalties Lie, and the critically acclaimed Never Die.