She’s sabotaged, tortured, and killed in the name of her empire. Never questioning, never yielding.
Being asked to turn her skills against the empire was not a consideration… until now.
Cover paintings by Ryan Moeck

About "Kestrel & Claw"

Samantha Mori is a blindly loyal — and cold-blooded — assassin and saboteur who performs the tasks her corrupt empire would prefer the public never have to know about. While on a routine torture-and-interrogate mission, evidence of high-treason and betrayal from within the empire’s highest ranking leaders is discovered. 

Unable to trust that her own agency isn’t compromised, Samantha is sent on an off-the-record mission to discover who is behind this attempt to cripple the empire. What she learns will leave her confronted with a question that has no answer: is it her duty to stop the coup… or help it succeed?

With no support, no approvals, and no backup, Samantha must race against powers she cannot hope to stop, while the distinctions between loyalty to an empire, to the ideals of an ordered society, and to her own deteriorating moral compass continue to blur and crumble.

Experience it your way!

Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook!

About the dauntless gambit book series

The Dauntless Gambit is a sci-fi, espionage adventure that blends the spy-vs-spy thrills of authors like Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, and Richard Morgan, or shows like Homeland, Counterpart, and The Americans, with the sci-fi stylings of Star Wars, Bladerunner, Agents of SHIELD, Firefly, and Battlestar Galactica.

With complex characters, coherent plots, and thematic dilemmas that will leave you questioning who is the hero and who is the villain, The Dauntless Gambit is the new adventure you've been waiting for!

View the series page on amazon!

Fans of sci-fi adventure love it!
"5 stars, no doubt. This is my favorite new series, can't wait for more!
"I could see elements from some of my favorite stories all pulled together - Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and Guardians of the Galaxy to list a few."
- Audiobook listener
"The first chapters of this book immediately serve to transport our minds to a familiar yet new reality, that of the Imperium, Fringe and Gulf and the endless struggles for balance between power and equality in that corner of the universe."
- Audiobook listener
"Even after reading the first four books, I can open to any page and still smile - this is the kind of adventure where rereading it is a delight, not a chore."
- Paperback reader
"The Dauntless Gambit was a tight, fast-paced romp! This sort of soft sci-fi is just what I needed, a blend of cowboy-diplomacy and swashbuckling adventure."
- Kindle reader
"Like a new Bladerunner, very Phillip K Dick. Found myself hooked after chapter five and just kept going."
- Paperback reader
"Listening is like a TV show beamed right into my mind. The level of detail and immersion makes this a must-binge series!"
- Audiobook listener
"Couldn't stop listening, I binged the entire series!"
- Audiobook listener
"The books are super fun and engaging. By 10% of the first one, I was already hooked and needed to get to the end to know what was going to happen."
- Kindle Reader

Back of the book for Kestrel & Claw

The Dauntless—an Imperium Navy starship–vanished while answering a distress call outside the borders of imperial space. Ship and crew: gone.

The Red Kestrels, paramilitary activists and outer-sector thugs, are thought responsible. But, for a small, fringe group like the Kestrels, pulling off a heist of this scale and risking the wrath of the empire isn’t just unlikely, it defies reason.

Imperium field-operative Samantha Mori is hunting down a Kestrel lead when startling new intelligence offers a more plausible—and damning—explanation, one which threatens not only her mission, but the stability of the empire. When a dangerous figure from her past offers an ultimatum, Samantha must abandon her plans and turn to an unlikely ally that no one, including herself, would have suspected.

Far outside the empire, freelance ship captain Decker Sagan is out of both funds and luck. When an unsavory offer for easy money arrives, he is forced to consider that his principles might be a luxury he can’t afford. One quick job, what could go wrong?

With all her loyalties severed, Samantha’s adversaries have all the advantages: they are ten steps ahead, have unlimited resources, and control the story they want the public to hear. Samantha has just one: everyone underestimates how much damage a rogue agent with a vendetta can do. And Samantha is determined to show them.

With the empire in peril, both sides race toward the imminent collision of kestrel and… claw.

Series cast of characters


A rogue agent loyal to the decaying empire, Samantha is one of the best operatives the Imperium has ever seen... and now she's hunting her own people. Surrounded by deception, who can Samantha trust? Or... who can trust her?


Former friend, former ally, and former something-like-lover, Renic and Samantha have not spoken in a year. Renic plans on changing that; his attack against the Imperium depends on it.


Co-captain of a restored and retrofitted wartime freighter named Matilda, Decker only wants to live a life of roaming the Fringe, far outside the Imperium's reach. And for good reason: Decker has a big secret to keep far from the Imperium Navy.


The Imperium Navy is a place of strict rules and stern punishments. Aboard the navy's flagship Terminus, Qin is one of the most gifted intelligence offers in the fleet. And now, she is asked to turn her gifts against her own government, with Samantha at the top of that list.

4+ books. Infinite readability.

The Dauntless Gambit is an ongoing series, the first arc is 4 books, available now in paperback, ebook, and audiobook!

Book 1:
Kestrel & Claw
246 pages
Book 2:
Legacy & Lies
321 pages
Book 3:
Turnabout & Temerity
335 pages
Book 4:
Ascension & Ash
378 pages

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the series complete?

Yes, sort of. Arc 1 is complete and resolves the central conflict and plot of the first 4 books!

The story continues with book 5, which is currently being outlined, and will pick up 6 months later as the story has evolved and the focus of the overarching central conflict is shifted.

You can feel confident that books 1-4 "end" well, and if you want to continue the story with characters you love, books 5-8 will be equally as familiar and present / resolve a new arc.

How's the editing and narration? Is this "self-published" junk?

Your eyes and ears are in good hands. The entire series went through 5 drafts and is both professionally edited and narrated by experienced literary experts.

Independent authorship doesn't mean I sacrifice quality. Hopefully, it feels like you bought it at an airport gift shop or down at your local bookstore at the mall. Hopefully I'll see it on a beach chair someday!

Wasn't this a podcast?

Yes, I wrote and completed the entire series in 2018 and 2019, and was in the editing and revision process.

Then, in April of 2020 I decided to release the chapters as a podcast as they were edited and narrated, twice a week, as a way to endure the pandemic and give people something to listen to between Tiger King and Ted Lasso.

The final episode, chapter 60, was released in March of 2021. The response was so overwhelmingly good that I decided to properly consolidate everything into four volumes and market it as a book series.

Are you working on more?

I am! At the time of this writing, I am in the beginning phases of a 5th entry in The Dauntless Gambit, and also I am nearing the final stages of outlining an all-new sci-fi dystopia story about a frozen Earth 400 years in the future suffering the aftermath of an alien race's glorified refueling stop.

I also have over 100,000 words written of an epic fantasy in the same vein as The Stormlight Archive. If these stories sound like something you want to hear about, be sure to sign up for my newsletter!

Are you a full-time author?

Not yet. It takes a tremendous amount of time to produce the stories I want at the quality you deserve. Multiple planning, outlining, and editing passes takes months and months.

So until the time comes, I maintain a full-time career as a product strategist, doing what I can between work.