Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Gavin Smith

The Hangman's Daughter (The Bastard Legion #1)

Title: The Hangman’s Daughter | Series: The Bastard Legion #1 | Author: Gavin Smith | Publisher: Gollancz | Publication date: January 26th  2017 | Num. Pages: 336 | Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia | How I owned it: ARC copy kindly provided by the publisher via Netgalley

3 stars – A good novel with a good premise

Many thanks to Gollancz and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Four hundred years in the future, the most dangerous criminals are kept in suspended animation aboard prison ships and “rehabilitated” in a shared virtual reality environment. But Miska Storrow, a thief and hacker with a background in black ops, has stolen one of these ships, the Hangman’s Daughter, and made it her own.

Controlled by explosive collars and trained in virtual reality by the electronic ghost of a dead marine sergeant, the thieves, gangsters, murderers, and worse are transformed into Miska’s own private indentured army: the Bastard Legion.

Are the mercenaries just for fun and profit, or does Miska have a hidden purpose connected to her covert past?


The Hangman’s Daughter was my first Gavin Smith novel and it is a novel about space, marines, prisoners and all kinds of corrupt officials. It is not just the name of the novel but also of the main ship – a prison barge with a 6000 strong crew of murders, thieves, sex offenders and more.

The basic premise of the book is that the main character Miska commandeers a prison barge orbiting space with 6000 prisoners encased in some sort of cryo-stasis in the hunt for the criminals who murdered her father 6 months prior. What follows is possibly one of the weirdest stories I’ve read but with plenty of action and messed up scenarios.

I had a real issue with Miska personally as a reader, she had this overwhelming feel of psychosis that wasn’t really explained until right at the end – for example, she’d just been shot at and followed that up by blowing someone’s head up and she goes “This is fun!” – all kinds of crazy. Though, in fairness, grief does crazy things to people and finding out what she did about her father’s death would cause some problems.

As this was my first Gavin Smith book I went into it quite openly with no exact expectations and found myself pleasantly surprised by the writing style. Although I had a dislike of the main character the story itself was interesting, with just the right amount of space interaction to class it as a Sci-Fi but there was also a slight undertone of romance which was unexpected given the overall seriousness of the book.

Plenty of humour with good secondary characters (Mass and Ultra in particular) and an ease of reading that is unparalleled for the genre.

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