It's been a while since I've encountered space opera that has been so effortless to slide into, and Embers of War by Gareth L Powell has all the hallmarks of my favourite stories. Honestly, Powell had me at the 'sentient space ships' part.
Central to the plot is the sentient ship Trouble Dog, who is employed by the search and rescue organisation The House of Reclamation. She and her dysfunctional crew, who are still smarting from the war in which they all served, are sent on a rescue mission when a liner is shot down on a planet-sized alien artefact. Yet what starts out as a seemingly simple rescue mission turns into a fight for survival that sees Trouble Dog hopelessly outgunned and in dire circumstances. Not only that, but they need to discover who is willing to kill to protect a greater mystery.
Powell's tale-weaving is eminently more-ish, and while his world building doesn't make my head implode with strangeness, his writing is absolutely what I needed to read at the time – an adventure, personality clashes among characters, and some wonderful, clever little twists at times when I feared the worst. I'm totally on board for book 2, which is already burning a hole in my Kindle app.