This is the third novel in the Sirantha Jax series. With so much potential it utterly falls flat, for the most part, in advancing the story. Worse yet, it really does not advance any of the characters and sadly fails to provide very good insight into the Ithiss-Tor.
If you have not read the first three books in this series this review will make little sense, nor will this particular novel in most respects. It relies, rightfully so in a series of this nature, in its predecessors.
This book finds Sirantha Jax on Ithiss-Tor as an ambassador for The Conglomerate that has take over as governing body of human habitable space. In the last novel we saw a nasty race of war like creatures who find humans tasty, the Morgut, spreading into the universe. The Ithorians are a warlike race, looking somewhat to me like a black Praying Mantis, who have the potential to thwart the Morgut. Problem is, they are not too fond of humans and have no strong reason for helping them. But humanity, now ruled by the Conglomerate, through their new found, mostly reluctant ambassador (see previous novels), must convince the Ithtorians to enter into an alliance to thwart the Morgut.
Unfortunately, this novel takes a second rate science fiction series a notch down. The previous novels were entertaining enough in their own right, but this was a huge disappointment on many levels.
First, Sirantha Jax is pretty much the same person not learning all that much from her pervious experiences. I want to call her a Heinleinesque reluctant hero, but that would be an abomination to the Grand Master. But she does rather bumble along and make do with she has, mostly successfully.
Second, the Ithiss-Tor are an interesting race but they seem utterly uninteresting in this novel. While an attempt is made to “characterize” these alien beings, it is rather poorly done and a lost opportunity. And then the mentally damaged love interest of Jax, March, is simply a post-traumatic stress disorder mess. His character seems the most combustible and least understandable and basically our understanding of him goes nowhere here. And frankly, he becomes kind of a ridiculous character as well. And none of the other intriguing characters like the Doc and Diana are developed in the least.
Even Vel, the Ithtorian who is an outcast of his own race and maybe the most interesting of all the characters, isn’t advanced much here, but maybe a little. His role as an outcast of his own race and his empathy for humans is endearing.
Third, and finally, the story is just dull, uninspiring, and maybe is just filler and a set up for something in the future.
I hope for better in new installments.
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Doug Baker (cdbaker)
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