Like learning how to swim, it is somewhat daunting to start on a long-running series, with all its built-in history and side stories, and rabid fans. But after sitting by the planks for a while, there comes a point where the only thing left to do is jump in. So I did. And was pleasantly surprised.
I was looking for space opera, and found it in this book. I was also looking for scientific extrapolation, and there was some of that, though the focus is more on the adventures of the main characters, there is still enough SF in it to have kept me going on to the end.
The dialogue is in an Old Western form, reminiscent of the Firefly series, a shoot-em-up but with less of the wise-crackin'. The main characters seemed sketchy, perhaps less so to those familiar with the same POVs in later books, so I felt like I was missing something from the future exploits of: Jela, a manufactured soldier, dedicated to his noble objective (protect and preserve the human race), externally enigmatic and yet internally tentative and unsure; Conthra, ex-assassin smuggler and dedicated to preserving her own skin and spaceship; and the potentially interesting Tree, who does not have any speaking parts.
I found the book episodic, with some scenes having no sense or relation to continuity, but I am assuming these were included to provide connections to events in other books of the series, this being an "origin" book of sorts.
But I enjoyed the read, easy and fluid, enhanced by great work form the narrator. I have already slotted the Audible for the second book of the duology. So my expectations are high.