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The Black Stars    by Dan Krokos order for
Black Stars
by Dan Krokos
Order:  USA  Can
Starscape, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Black Stars is a sequel to The Planet Thieves - first two episodes in a fast moving, exciting, new middle-grade SF series by Dan Krokos. The first book introduced Mason Stark and seventeen fellow teen Academy cadets looking for trouble aboard the SS Egypt. They found more than they bargained for, when the starship was attacked by alien Tremists.

Led by Mason, the cadets took the SS Egypt back from the Tremists. Peace was negotiated after both sides learned of a common enemy, the Fangborn. Along the way, Mason learned to control powerful gloves used by the Tremists' sorcerous Rhadgast warriors. And he discovered that his best friend Merrin was really the humanoid Tremist king's daughter.

As The Black Stars opens, though lauded as an intergalactic hero, Mason is still constantly in trouble, dealing with upper class bullies at the Academy. That ends when he and his friend Tom are summoned by Grand Admiral Shahbazian and given an assignment - to accept the Tremist king's invitation to attend their Rhadgast School, and act as spies there.

At the school, the boys are tested to see which faction they belong to - Blood or Stone. They are accepted by some students and staff, but face extreme prejudice from others. And they learn that students are disappearing - what is happening to them? Of course, Mason finds out, and learns his parents' fate when he does. He also finds - and is able to wear - the fabled gloves of the legendary Rhadgast Uniter.

Mason goes on to perform extraordinary feats with them when the Fangborn attack both Earthlings and Tremists. There are captures and escapes and a constant struggle against the darkness that creeps into Mason through the gloves. But, through everything, Mason's friends are there for him, as he is for them.

It's all highly improbable but also tons of fun and high adventure. This is a great series to pull in the more reluctant of readers as well as those who are already avid bookworms.

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