After In Command, I had high hopes for some amazing political wrangling in this book. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what I got.
After the events of the last book (and novella), it’s pretty clear that SpaceTech is coming for the Aunare sooner rather than later. But due to parts of the Alliance treaty, Lorne acting preemptively against them could lead to the other parties allying with SpaceTech. On top of that, the other members of the Alliance are still refusing to talk to Lorne, so he agrees to a diplomatic meeting on the Yhona home planet of Telnon. But SpaceTech always attacks in threes, and something’s not right with the alliance – or with Amihanna. Stymied at every turn by people who seem to care more about political machinations than their own people, Ami’s trying to figure out what her new purpose in life is. With time running out, can they figure out how to save the Aunare.. without sacrificing themselves?
“I wasn’t going back to Earth how I left. I was going back stronger.
I was a warrior.
I was a leader.
I was the person that was destined to take down SpaceTech.”
First off, I still really like Amihanna. I was especially touched by the revelation that she still keeps her go bags, and that she had the rest of her security team make them, too. Sure, she’s practically the High Queen now, but the Ami I started out rooting for was the kid just trying to survive in Albuquerque. For his part, Lorne makes some typically dumb Lorne decisions, but I’ve gotten more used to the idea of him and Ami as a couple, and there was one scene that I found really quite sweet.
I liked seeing a new planet and new alien races. Telnon was interesting, but there seemed to be a lot of implications of things going on behind the scenes that never explicitly gelled. There wasn’t too much about the other allies besides the Yhona (basically space Switzerland) and Vyic, who’s kinda Lorne’s friend but also kind of not and who basically defies description. And since we’re talking about Vyic, I noticed it a bit in the novella as well, but there’s a few off-handed comments about God – Amihanna offering up all her worries to God, praying, etc – that stuck out strangely, especially since she wasn’t particularly religious before.
My main critique of the book is that it felt disjointed. There’s the main plot about winning allies in the war against SpaceTech, which involves going to Telnon. Then there’s preparation for the actual war, which Amihanna is convinced needs to involve them going to Earth. Then there’s the latest series of SpaceTech attacks against Amihanna. Then there’s the matter of where the heck are Declan and Ahiga??? And there’s the whole bit about Lorne and Amihanna navigating their personal relationship while all that other stuff is going on. Each of these plot lines moved forward, some more than others, but in ways that never quite connected. I spent sections of the book not quite sure where the plot was supposed to be going.
“Your mission can be so much bigger than what you keep going back to.”
Even more frustrating, I found it a lot harder to suspend disbelief in this book. OK, two day limit to declare war, that’s weird, but I can get that. OK, sure, totally normal for the High King and (future) Queen to go on dangerous missions! But after listening to Lorne’s internal monologue for the past book-and-a-novella, the thing that really broke my brain was that I couldn’t believe that he’d agree to travel on a separate ship from Amihanna. Of course that doesn’t go well, and it sets the stage for Ami being ill for the rest of the book. Now, to be honest, one of my favorite things about Amihanna is how she perseveres even when drastically ill, but the way she reacted to this particular threat seemed foolhardy in the extreme. I couldn’t understand her and Lorne’s motivations at all.
Overall, I left this book feeling confused about the direction the series is going in (back to Earth, I guess?). I’ll probably pick up the final book just because I want closure about what happens with Amihanna, but I won’t have high expectations for it.
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.