“Thief of Stars” rapidly follows The Final Dawn, the first in a space opera series that runs at a cracking pace. We follow Jack Bishop’s adventures in space with a team of sentient automata, his adventures both encountered but also pivoting around his central quest to find his home planet Earth. Ashford conjures up a vast world of stars, planets, and alien races, and Bishop’s team is brought to life through excellent characterization and dialogue. On this outing, Bishop, ever more desperate to seek home, finds himself boxed into stealing a “solar core” aboard a colony ship, and a sinuous plot ensues. As in the debut, the author is at his best amidst the vivid action scenes, and once more Thief of Stars is a quick treat to read, but I had the feeling the series could be stumbling a tad. I shall, of course, be hanging for another reprise of resourceful Jack Bishop in far-flung space.