on July 12th 2022
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.
Titan Hoppers by Rob J Hayes is another quarter-finalist for the Wayward Stars team in the SPSFC. This is my personal review and doesn’t reflect the views of my team members. This is also the first progression fantasy/science fiction I read, and the first book I read by Rob J Hayes.
I had no idea what to expect. I knew Rob J Hayes is pretty popular in the fantasy genre but my tastes don’t particularly align with the general consensus of what’s good in the fantasy community. I also never read the genre before. That’s why I saved this book for last. I had high expectations for the writing style but had absolutely no idea what the story itself would bring.
We follow Iro as he becomes a Hopper through an accident. The progression mechanism is through gates the Hoppers have to unlock to increase their powers and talents. No one knows how they exactly work and how you unlock them because it’s different for everyone. I like this idea that everyone has their own path to follow, just as everyone has their different abilities. The trainees in Iro’s group all have different talents that fit their fighting style and physique. Iro isn’t as big as Bjorn or Torben so his talent is about mobility.
Aside from Iro, we get to know the other trainees and his teachers. Sadly, there were only a few characters I liked, most of them with their own points of view, I didn’t like. Too many grumpy, entitled, greedy people. I’d love to see Eir’s point of view. Or Ashvild. Even Frigg would’ve been interesting. It was nice to see the character development in everyone though. Even if I didn’t enjoy their personalities, the story arcs for these characters was satisfying.
The worldbuilding is intriguing, something I haven’t seen before. The stark distincting between the upper and lower ships is nice, to create that idea of privilege and poverty in a space setting. But at the end I was left with too many questions about the worldbuilding for it to be satisfying. I don’t expect the first book in a series to tell me everything about the world but here there were too many mysteries that were repeated again and again keeping that question alive. Since there was zero closure for this subplot, the ending felt rough. Only the main plot got some kind of closure and I’m not even sure I’d call that finished.
I really enjoyed Titan Hoppers. It reminded me a lot of the animes and mangas I used to read. It’s been years since I read or watched anything like this and I kind of missed it. I might try more progression fantasy at this point but I don’t know if I’ll continue with this series.
Also check out my other reviews for the quarter-finalists: Tropical Punch, Clarity of Cold Steel, Intergalatic Bastard.