Obtained: I obtained my copy for free via Amazon.
The Plot: Trelisa is a xenoarchaeologist with a real dislike for the government. As a result, she takes a job working with a group of smugglers trying to find alien artifacts before the government can on a newly discovered world. The trouble is, she and the smugglers have no real idea what they are getting themselves into when the arrive at the destination planet.
Upon arrival they discover an underground facility unlike any they’ve heard of before and to make things worse, the facility is intelligent in some fashion, changing itself in order to prevent them from ever escaping to the surface again. While trapped, the smugglers meet up with a strange alien being they nickname “Shiny” who helps them to escape the facility and then the planet. Once they are free, Shiny takes them on a journey back to his native area of the galaxy where they discover several other new and shocking developments.
The entire time, the government is chasing them down, determined to recover all of the artifacts Trelisa gathers during the adventure and then punish them for their crimes.
The Commentary: Heading into The Trilisk Ruins I was a blank slate. I had never heard of the author, it was clear the book was a self-published work, and a friend of mine had sent me a text message asking if I had ever heard of it. Given that I hadn’t, and because I’m a sucker for reading things so I can tell other people whether or not they should read them I grabbed a copy knowing the worst that could happen was it turned out terrible, but at least it was free. Well, it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t mind-blowing either.
The Trilisk Ruins holds rather true to what an experience reader of science fiction would expect it to be, a tale of aliens, spaceships, and mysterious circumstances that rolls along and doesn’t really wait for you to notice if it does or does not have any flaws. The most interesting parts of The Trilisk Ruins are the ones that feature Shiny, whether that be his introduction in the prologue, his viewpoint chapters, or when other characters are interacting with him in their own viewpoint chapters. The human characters are admittedly a bit thin when it comes to being unique or compelling, but they are serviceable as typical science fiction stereotypes. Would it have been nice if they had broken out into something more unique? Yes. Was the story ruined because they didn’t? No, not really.
It’s clear this book is the first of a series because a lot of groundwork is laid for Trelisa as a main protagonist along with the various bits of world building that happens. The book is relatively short and reads rather quickly, so anyone looking for a free science fiction book might be rather intrigued by what it has to offer. The book isn’t going to win any awards, but it does show the author as having the potential to write something a little more compelling with a bit more practice under their belt, and I like that sort of thing.
Needs More: Shiny. The alien is hands down the best part of the book because he is not anthropomorphized in any fashion which makes his viewpoint very unique and fresh. Giving him more screen time would have been a great idea.
Needs Less: Typical “government wants to keep all the secrets for themselves” stuff. It’s a trope that gets used all the time and while I can see the reason the author decided to use it as a backdrop for The Trilisk Ruins, it had no impact. There are probably better ways to create tension for the smugglers than such a worn out approach.
Worth It? If you are wanting to read something that is going to astound you, then The Trilisk Ruins probably isn’t your cup of tea. If you are looking for a capable science fiction tale that just happens to be free while you wait for another book to be released, or because you need something for a weekend vacation on the beach, then yes, The Trilisk Ruins is probably worth a download and a try. You won’t feel like you wasted your time, or at least, I didn’t feel that way.