RogerBW's Blog

Peacekeeper, Laura E. Reeve 29 July 2018

2008 science fiction, first of a trilogy. Ariane Kedros was involved in a mission that's often regarded as a war crime; under her new identity she prospects in new star systems. But Intelligence still has jobs for her.

There's an awful lot going on in this book, and it has to introduce its world too. Ariane's back from a prospecting mission where she and her partner found something Really Big; she's assigned as treaty compliance officer to one of the bases that operates Temporal Distortion weapons, which have just been banned, so the other side's coming to inspect the draw-down; and the other side have weird body-reading powers; and Ariane has a substance abuse problem; and the enigmatic alien Minoans are involved in ways which presumably make sense to them; and there's an unexpectedly capable AI; and someone's been murdering the people in the chain of command that produced that war-crime incident; and everyone's culture is heavily Greek-influenced, because, um?

Reeve is a former USAF officer and the military setting works: it's not about whizzes and bangs, but about training and politics. Yes, the commander of the squadron that operates the banned weapons knows that it's in the process of being shut down and continuing to do exercises is pointless… but she still has to produce good readiness reports until that happens, for the sake of her future career. Parallels with nuclear weapon inspections are very obvious: we have to let Them into our secret bunker, so we make it as hard for them to gather intelligence as we can manage, but things still go wrong.

There are few infodumps and some aspects of the book didn't entirely hold together for me, but the central conceit – that nobody knows what happened after that war crime incident fifteen years ago, because the FTL navigation point in the target system was destroyed, but the light from the event is only months away from being observed – is a good one. It's not resolved here, though; this is only the first of a trilogy.

The characters don't completely work; most of the attention is on Kedros and her problems, but she's a fairly straightforward person with a Tortured Past and her moments of personal growth are very clearly signposted. Similarly the mystery of the murders isn't especially mysterious. I think Reeve's major enthusiasm is for the Big Events, with some of what happens to Kedros feeling like procedural filler.

It's OK, but doesn't really stand out for me. I'll probably read the next volume, but I'm not in any hurry to do so. Followed by Vigilante.

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