An old ally of Grandmaster Vydor comes to him for help because an enemy, perhaps as old as the Empire itself, has turned its sights on his Cathratinairian race and means to wipe them out. Spectra and Dusty are sent to find and stop this new threat, while Spectra begins her plan to change the balance of power for the entire known multiverse. Dusty must decide to follow Spectra as she uses this mission of mercy for her own gain, or stand with the Wizards Kingdom, which could put him in direct opposition to his wife.
Like all the previous books in this book series this was an enjoyable book but, for me, this one was also the weakest book in the series so far. I almost gave it one star less but I finally decided to stick to my current rating. The first two books in the series are still the best ones by far but they had the advantage of a fresh main story arc with this mixture of fantasy, magic and modern science. The later books in the series of course have to fight against the fact that the novelty have worn off a bit.
As the name implies the focus of the book is on Spectra although a lot of other people are involved. I think this is one of the problems I had with this book. I never really felt attached to a main person. There are lot of heroes to follow around and to complicate things we have people from all these shadowy organizations lurking around in the background. I have read books with the same amount of characters in them before but I do find these ones more difficult than most books to read when there are many characters that you need to follow since the author have the habit of writing everything in first person perspective but switches the character from one chapter to another. These switches always throws me off and I am not too keen on this writing style.
Otherwise most of the familiar characters in the Lost Tales of Power universe are back in this story which is really less “magical” than the other books. Sure, all (almost) our heroes are wizards of one kind or another and they routinely use magic to achieve their goals but the story itself is much more a conventional one and so is really their main adversary. A lot of the time is spent stalking around on space stations or traveling from station to station trying to follow the tracks of the enemy.
The book blurb talks about an ancient enemy and the wiping out of an entire race. Well, that is not exactly what it sounds like and is more or less “just” the backdrop for what I would consider the “real” story which is what gave the book its name. I will not say much about what Spectra’s gambit really is since there is little I can say without introducing rather large spoliers into this review but I must say that I was a bit concerned about it up until the end.
On the whole it is a good book but it is “just” that. Good, not great. It feels more mundane and ordinary than the other books. There is less of discovery and less novelty in this book. There is also not really a distinct good and charismatic bad guy around but rather an obscure cloud of previously mentioned shadowy organizations. It is as if this book was introduced mostly to set the stage for coming books. There are some developments both with Mantis and Korshalem as well as in the wizard school and wizard kingdom that sets a bit of a new playing field for the future.