Matadora is the sequel to The Man Who Never Missed. Whereas the first book covered the evolution of a revolutionary, this book does something very different. It stars Dirisha Zuri, a female ronin in search of martial bliss. Wandering between solar systems, challenging fellow warriors in personal combat, Dirisha is constantly looking to improve herself with the hope of finding something greater. When she finds herself joining a Matador school to train in a new martial arts, that greater purpose reveals itself. Through a deep character journey, author Steve Perry creates a story stands apart from it’s predecessor.

As male oriented as The Man Who Never Missed was, Matadora tries to break that trend by focusing on a female lead. Dirisha certainly fits the label of strong female character, as she’s actually physically strong and a more than competent fighter. Spending years in the Musashi Flex, she has traveled between planets in search of fellow warriors. Followers of the Flex fight each other in order to improve their martial skills and to judge their own talents. They also fight each other for the thrill of it. Like roving gladiators, their bouts can end in death. Yet they follow this path in hopes of reaching a sort of nirvana. Through the story, readers discover how Dirisha arrived on this path, and they come to understand her dissatisfaction with it. It’s an interesting turn for a character who was introduced as a mere pub bouncer in the first book.

Much of Matadora focuses on the legacy of Khadaji, the main character in The Man Who Never Missed. Dirisha winds up on Simplex-by-the-Sea and in the school Khadaji setup. It’s a place where select students have been brought together to learn advanced martial arts. They are trained to be elite warriors who, once their training is complete, can go into the galaxy as the finest bodyguards money can buy. The whole thing is part of Khadaji’s dream of undermining the hostile rule of the Confed government. Dirisha’s training at the school sheds further light on Khadaji’s plans, while also further developing her character. Flashbacks yield clues to her earlier life. She develops relationships at the school that explore some of the flaws of her character. It all builds up to the moment where she must discover who she is and how to let go. Her inability to trust holds her back, and part of this story is her struggle to overcome her greatest flaw.

The character arc for Dirisha is pretty compelling and held my interest for much of the book. Toward the end there is some mushy relationship developments that caused my interest to wane. There’s also some graphic sex scenes in the book that I could have done without. That said, I did enjoy the ronin aspect of a wandering warrior going around learning new fighting techniques and challenging other warriors. It created an interesting angle to Dirisha. Even so, near the end of the story, I found myself thinking this was a somewhat average book. It started out really good, but I got dragged down by all the heavy relationship elements and Dirisha’s struggle to find her bearings. The good news is that the end of the book has a nice hook that improved the overall story. It was enough to bump it from a three metal bikini rating to a four. While this sci-fi story might not be for everyone, it is a worthwhile story. If you enjoyed The Man Who Never Missed, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up. For those trying to determine if the series is worth their investment, this book definitely provides a different feel from the first and adds to the overall direction of the series. It’s too early to say if this is a must read series, but it certainly has promise.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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