January 11, 2006

Kris Longknife: Defiant by Mike Shepherd

skinny blonde girl with a big gun silhouetted against a spaceshipI've been calling this a military science fiction weepie. Kris Longknife is the daughter of a wealthy political family. Rather than follow the wealth-building arm of the family or the political arm, she joined the Marines. Rather than being a good little soldier she specializes in solving problems by using her natural leadership skills (and some supernaturally competent sidekicks) to foil bad guys' plots through insubordination and out-of-the-box thinking. She's kind of like Miles Vorkosigan, only without the physical handicaps. The book sees her first on a brief diplomatic misson that turns into a hostage rescue. This part of the book didn't have any connection to the later plot that I can recall. It could be that it was wrapping up some issues from one of the previous books (this is the third book in a series, but the first I've read), but it felt like a stand-alone story. Then in the rest of the book she takes command of a meager planetary defense force in an effort to repel a well-armed fleet of invading starships. So there's the military and science fiction parts of the story. The weepie part comes in because in the course of the battle all sorts of people make all sorts of personal sacrifices in an almost certainly doomed attempt to defend their home from the bad guys.

The book is written and paced well enough that it's easy to keep turning the pages, but the plot and setting felt unduly contrived to me. People follow Kris, but it's not clear why. The majority of the book is the leadup and execution of a single intricate battle scene and it was clear almost from the beginning what the outcome would be, at least to this jaded reader. It is a series, after all. A series I probably won't read any more volumes from. (And I only read this one cause I'm scoring books for the Endeavour Award again this year.)

Posted by jeffy at January 11, 2006 11:13 PM
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