Book Review – Gryfalcon by Anna Butler

Taking Shield #1
Publisher: Glass Hat Press
Pages: 281
Characters: Bennet/Flynn, Bennet/Joss
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Series, SF

Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield serial, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—and with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down.

He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war.

What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

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I’d heard good things about Taking Shield by Anna Butler and as a long time SF reader, wondered if the hype was well founded. It is! A couple of pages into this story, and I was hooked. The world building is wonderful, and I felt like I was walking into a world with a rich history, and yet I had no problems in jumping in at the point this story takes place within it. The story starts with a fast pace action scene which grabbed my attention immediately. The technical aspect of the series is obviously well researched, but didn’t bog down the story either. I loved the way the author approached the aliens in this story—the reader learns about them alongside the characters, and I reacted in the same way Bennet did when he discovers—sorry, spoiler—which reflects how engrossed I was in the story.

Bennet and Flynn are very different characters, but they complement each other so well. There is a lot standing between them and their HEA, which makes a lot of sense considering everything else going on. I would have been disappointed if their relationship had gone smoothly, even though their romance is not the focus of the story. Although this story includes a romance, it is so much more than that, and I felt the romance was secondary to the plot. This is a SF story in which the characters are gay, rather than vice versa, and it works perfectly.

The supporting cast are well fleshed out too, and have their own motivations. I did find though, that as soon as I’d read the final words in this story, I had to keep going and read the next one…and the next one… so expect a few reviews while I play catch up.

Gyrfalcon reminds me of why I love SF, and I’d highly recommend the book—and the series—to readers who enjoy military SF with fabulous world building, complex characters, and a story that leaves you wanting more. Gyrfalcon is up there with one of the best books I’ve read this year. I don’t buy many hardcopy books because of the cost of postage etc to NZ, but there are a few I have on my wish list. This series definitely is. 5 out of 5 stars.

About Anne Barwell

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with a cat with “tortitude” who is convinced that the house is run to suit her; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date, it appears as though Kaylee may be winning. In 2008, Anne completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra. She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts and reviews for other authors, and writes monthly blog posts for Love Bytes. She is the co-founder of the New Zealand Rainbow Romance writers, and a member of RWNZ. Anne’s books have received honorable mentions five times, reached the finals four times—one of which was for best gay book—and been a runner up in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical. Anne can be found at
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