Sunday, February 15, 2009

BOOKS: Review- Kris Longknife Intrepid

Technically speaking, this is actually a review of the whole Kris Longknife series by Mike Moscoe, of which Intrepid is the most recent one. It was proceeded by Deserter, Mutineer, Defiant, Resolute and Audacious. All published in the last five years, the first two coming out in 2004. I should also note that Moscoe uses the pseudonym Mike Shepherd for these books.

If you've read my review of Elizabeth Moon's Vatta or Serrano books, you have the review for the Longknife books already in mind. This is military science fiction with a soap opera-ish bent. The main character, Kris Longknife, starts the series off as a low-level sailor in the United Sentient Planets' marine corps. She's a bit more than that. Her dad's a planetary prime minister and one of her grandfathers becomes an interstellar emperor along the way. She's got connections.

And because she's got connections, she's dismissed for being a woman, young, and obviously enjoying nepotism at its best. Turns out that although she's a woman and young, she's doing her darndest to get out from under the occasional self-serving thumb of her relatives. They keep shipping her out to crappier and crappier assignments with every intention of busting her out of the Marines and into civilian life. She keeps succeeding in her missions and coming back with a bump in title. The scene where she receives her promotion is a highlight in each book.

The first book in the series details the fracturing of the long-time status quo of the United Sentients Alliance. Old Earth, is tired and can no longer maintain its grip on the outer planets. Earth opts to condense its sphere of control and the outer rim planets break into two main groups and a bunch of unaligned planets who can't make up their mind as to which of the new groups to join. The Longknifes are the good guys and there's a bigger portion of the planets under their sway. But the Peterwald-controlled planets are awfully aggressive about the undecideds joining up with them. The Peterwalds wear the black hats in this series and if you conflate them with the old Prussion ideals, you are bang on.

Through the series, Longknife tangles with one Peterwald scion or another. She cozies up with Hank Peterwald, who seems the white sheep of the family. Unfortunately, when she does in the dire plans of the elder, Hank is called home and told to man-up or be cast from the family. The relatively pleasant frenemy of the second book turns into a snarling martinet, too stupid to know when he's in over his head. That leads to death. A not uncommon factor in this series, as Longknife loses more than a few characters that readers would assume were in the series for the long haul.

And with Hank gone and buried, his sister steps into the fray to become the latest in a long line of people who attempt to kill Longknife or have her killed by proxy. The sister does the opposite of her brother and becomes a frenemy by the conclusion of this book, which is about all I'm going to say about Intrepid.

Here's a line you won't see in this blog often. DON'T READ THIS BOOK. Well, not until you've read the first five books in the series. I see no reason to start here and miss the buildup that explains why the events of Intrepid are so extraordinary.

If you like military science fiction from the likes of Moon or David Weber, you owe it to yourself to take in all six gems in this series. It's a simple as that. But please don't start with Intrepid.

You've been warned!

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