Book Review – The Chains of Their Sins by Anna Butler

Taking Shield #4
Publisher: Glass Hat Press
Pages: 276
Characters: Bennet/Flynn,
POV: 3rd
Sub-Genre: Series, SF

Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment after his rotation out.

On Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…

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I’m already a huge fan of this series. The world building is very detailed, the settings easy to visualise, and I love the characters.

This story picks up two years after the last book, and both men’s nervousness about seeing each other again was very tangible, and awkward, and not just because of the anti-Fraternisation Regs. I really felt for them in this story, and could feel their frustration and pain. It was a difficult read, but that also made the story so so good. I thought the author did a great job showing Bennet trying to, and not coping, with the horror of the each new discovery about the Maess and their plans.

As with the previous books, although Bennet and Flynn’s romance plays a part in the story, this is a solid SF story with a romance, rather than a romance against a backdrop of SF.

The plot is complex, and very engaging. I liked the way it linked back to the previous stories, and built on them. The author doesn’t shy away from the ethics and politics in this story, which adds to what is already a very powerful read. There are a lot of difficult questions asked, and some of the characters come out as definite shades of gray. The politicians have a store of dirty tricks, and are very self-serving in the way they tap into feelings of resentment and powerlessness and use it to their own advantage. I really liked the analogy of a cup on a volcano used to describe the unrest in the other colonies, and the political situation as a whole.

The complex world building is another one of this series’ strengths. I love how a little more of Albion’s history is revealed with each new book, and the Egyptian connection to their culture. I thought the attack flights were very realistic, and easy to visualise. The author writes fabulous action scenes which have me on the edge of my seat.

I already own the first two books in hardcopy, and I will be buying the rest. This series reminds me of why I love SF. I’m hanging out for the final book although I must admit I’m a little worried about what the author has in store for these characters I’ve grown to love.

I’d recommend The Chains of Their Sins to readers who enjoy an edge-of-your-seat political military SF with fabulous characters and world building. 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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