RogerBW's Blog

Pathfinder, Laura E. Reeve 22 June 2021

2010 science fiction, last of its trilogy. Ariane Kedros is testifying at the trial of surviving terrorists, and someone seems to be trying to blow her up, but at least the enigmatic aliens have a new job for her. Oh good…

As a conclusion to the trilogy… this isn't. There's plenty of revelation, a little bit of wrapping-up at the end, and some speculation about what will come next, but if this had been volume three of five it could have ended in just the same way. (Reeve has gone on to write a pair of fantasy novels but there's no sign that she plans to extend this series.)

Which is a shame, because I'm interested in these people and I'd like to see their stories get some kind of resolution. Yes, many things have been dealt with and several arcs have been concluded, but that really isn't enough for me when there are big questions left unanswered about the futures of everyone one's come to care about in the slightest. In some ways, the whole thing feels quite abrupt.

As for what is in this book rather than what isn't, there's more of Ariane's personal development; she has to work with old enemies, and indeed to distinguish between the kind of enemy with whom one can make common cause in the face of something bigger and the kind who's always going to be opposed to whatever one is or does.

The stand-in for the Soviet Union is perhaps a bit too obviously Soviet as seen by Americans this time round; its distinctive bits, the Overlords known only by numbers and the State Princes who are just one rank down from them, don't make up for pervasive paranoia, a large but mostly incompetent system of informers and secret police, an inferior computer technology, and so on. All right, perhaps I was just being obtuse before, or I was hoping for a less direct translation of Reeve's USAF experiences.

I'm glad I read this trilogy, mainly for the aliens, who are effectively enigmatic and patronising while not being two-dimensional. And for the Greek basis for human culture, though it doesn't show up much beyond the names. Other things, such as the setup for FTL travel and the wear it puts on its pilots, are handled competently but not particularly originally or better than I've read in other places.

I haven't loved these books, and I haven't rushed to get to the next volume, but they have a distinctive flavour that I'd be sad to have missed.

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Previous in series: Vigilante | Series: Major Ariane Kedros

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