RogerBW's Blog

Redoubtable, Mike Shepherd 14 August 2022

2010 military SF, eighth of the Kris Longknife books. Kris is hunting pirates and slavers beyond the edge of human-claimed space.

More or less, anyway. The first part is a fairly straightforward tale of something being wrong on a planet and Kris fixing it, as we've seen several times before in this series – but it turns out to be more complicated than that, as what starts with a simple delivery of relief supplies quickly escalates to the point that overthrowing the dictator will be less work than fighting them off while trying to give out the food… at which point, suddenly we need to set up our own police and courts and so on. It's well-observed, and if perhaps it should have been mentioned before, normally Kris has been able to get clear of the planets she's interfered on before the retributions start.

Things quickly move on to the Rival Space Empire (comic-opera Space Commies with a nominally corporate structure), which a couple of books ago purged its secret police (off-page) and is now learning that it doesn't seem to have any police (and its planetary and city managers, free of the threat of being shot in the head for thinking the wrong thing, are going into business for themselves). Fortunately Kris has already made friends with the heir to that polity, so they can work together on a covert operation.

The practical details of militaria work reasonably well; what we don't get is anything like character development. Nothing happens to change any of the principals, so while there's some plot development (in human politics rather than the alien threat not quite introduced last book), they come out very much as they went in. (Also all of them are now firmly and heterosexually paired off, except for one child, Kris herself, and her chief bodyguard who's been around since the beginning.)

More than anything else this feels like filler, with a grudgingly-measured drip of plot development to make it another book in the series rather than a stand-alone.

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Previous in series: Undaunted | Series: Kris Longknife

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