Next up: “Tarnished Knight”, “Perilous Shield”, and “Imperfect Sword” by Jack Campbell.
Don’t think I don’t see your pseudo-Mass Effect armor, there, “Imperfect Sword” cover…
This is a companion series to Beyond the Frontier (reviewed here), in that it takes place at the same time but starring the Syndics (oooo!). Both series are sequel-series to The Lost Fleet (reviewed here), which means that there may be spoilers below the cut. This series is on-going, with the next book (“Shattered Spear”) due out in May.
After Geary got the Syndicate Worlds to surrender, a lot of citizens and former soldiers on different worlds took the opportunity to shrug off the yoke of their corporate leaders. This series follows two CEOs (what exactly this means is explained in the books) in Midway Star System: Artur Drakon and Gwen Iceni. They both have similar-yet-different reasons for wanting different governance of Midway, and they find themselves having to work together, since Iceni controls the mobile forces while Drakon controls the ground-troops.
A coup is not so easy when you are afraid your partner might kill you at any time, or when you might have Syndic spies infesting your planet or ships, or when the Syndicate Worlds aren’t particularly happy with you declaring independence from them. It’s especially not east when you also have to worry about aliens and the presence of the victorious Alliance in your system. But, somehow, Iceni and Drakon must work together to make their coup succeed and to protect Midway.
Finally we see more of the Syndics! And what an interesting look it is, too. They’re actually very reminiscent of soviet Russia, but (ironically) extremely capitalist. It’s a brutal system of government, with plenty of what Star Trek fans know as “Klingon promotions” (aka, you kill the dude and take his position). This makes people very very wary of each other, since maybe your neighbor thinks they can advance in the world if they tell The Man about your seditious thoughts, or maybe your neighbor is a Syndic spy him/herself.
They’ve got something of a Prisoner’s Dilemma going on in these books. Iceni and Drakon both want for Midway to be independent, neither trusts the other enough to give up their power, and neither really trusts each other not to hire assassins. It’s a series that’s as much about conquering themselves– stopping themselves from using typical Syndic tactics, learning how to govern without oppressing, learning how to trust and work together– as much as it is about beating the Syndicate Worlds’ attempt to re-assimilate them and protecting the system from aliens.
I like Iceni and Drakon, but Drakon’s bodyguards are crazy-cakes. Especially Morgan, oh my god. Lady’s crazier than a bag of cats. I don’t think she knows what the word ‘moral’ even means. Probably can’t even speak it without her lips blistering, jeez.
In “Perilous Shield” there’s an instance of consent issues– being that someone deliberately got someone else drunk so that they’d have sex with them.