Review: Fortuna (Nova Vita Protocol #1) by Kristyn Merbeth

Rating: ★★★☆☆+


Fortuna launches a new space opera trilogy that will hook you from the first crash landing.

Scorpia Kaiser has always stood in Corvus’s shadow until the day her older brother abandons their family to participate in a profitless war. However, becoming the heir to her mother’s smuggling operation is not an easy transition for the always rebellious, usually reckless, and occasionally drunk pilot of the Fortuna, an aging cargo ship and the only home Scorpia has ever known.

But when a deal turns deadly and Corvus returns from the war, Scorpia’s plans to take over the family business are interrupted, and the Kaiser siblings are forced to make a choice: take responsibility for their family’s involvement in a devastating massacre or lay low and hope it blows over.

Too bad Scorpia was never any good at staying out of a fight.

Perfect for fans of Becky Chambers and Catherynne M. Valente, Fortuna introduces a dazzling new voice in science fiction.


Thanks to the publisher and author for an advance reading copy of Fortuna (Nova Vita Protocol #1) in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ARC did not influence my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

Fortuna is a promising start to this new space opera trilogy, but not without a few bumps in the road. The premise ultimately hooked me into picking this one up, but the execution is slightly different than what I was expecting. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. There is plenty to like here and plenty more to look forward to in the sequels.

How can you not want to read about a family of space smugglers? Especially with a rebellious and alcoholic heir that can’t seem to get on track, and with her brother back in the picture after a three (3) year absence, getting on track is the least of Scorpia’s worries. Mix that with an overbearing mother who has been abusive and negligent most of their lives, though is the head and heart of the operation, and you have a pretty messed up family prior to the smuggling operations.

Unfortunately, these relationships are mostly surface with not a lot of depth, which I believe led me to feel a large disconnect with the characters.

Scorpia, at times, felt way to juvenile a character with the responsibilities handed to her, and given her age. I get that she enjoys alcohol and that plays a big role in her actions, but there are a few times where you are just left scratching your head and asking “Do people really act like that?” Not to say I don’t see that on the daily with social media, so maybe it just becoming a norm for mid-twenties people to act carelessly. On the other hand, Corvus is dealing with PTSD from the war he has since returned from, and his actions are fairly in-line with a vet, but again, are a little too top of the water and the illness is there to continue moving the plot along.

Don’t come into Fortuna expecting a ton of space battles or chases. This is more of a politically driven story with a family drama syrup and revenge cherry on top. It is an engaging read that will definitely appeal to fans of science fiction and space operas, but without the immense world-building and galactic warfare.

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