Sunday, March 27, 2011

Audacious – the Kris Longknife series, Book 5

  1. Mutineer (May 22, 2009) – 3 out of 5  
  2. Deserter (May 22, 2009) – 4.5 out of 5 
  3. Defiant (May 22, 2009) – 4 out of 5  
  4. Resolute (July 28, 2009)
  5. Audacious (July 28, 2009) – 4 out of 5
  6. Intrepid (July 28, 2009)
  7. Undaunted (October 27, 2009)
  8. Redoubtable (February 1, 2011)

Narrator: Dina Pearlman  – 4 out of 5 
Length: 12:41 hours, purchased on audible 

At the end of Resolute, the Navy is done trying to keep Kris Longknife, a princess and a Navy lieutenant, on active ship duty.  Not after Kris removed a war-hawk, maverick commanding officer in Mutineer, and inspired a class-based revolution on Turantic in Deserter, on Hikila in Defiant, and on Last Chance in Resolute.  It isn’t only that no commanding officer wants that sort of a subordinate.  At the end of Resolute, Hank Peterwald the 13th, the son of the Longknife’s arch enemy and greatest political competitor, died after a direct confrontation with Kris, and now the assassination attempts are up.

In the beginning of Audacious, Kris’s mission is to buy paperweights and similar supplies on the safest, most evolved, civilized planet in the universe, New Eden. So what is Victoria Peterwald, Hank’s twin sister, doing there?  No sooner does Kris land on New Eden then Vicky tries to kill her, and it becomes obvious that not all is well on the economically advanced planet.  For Kris to legally carry her firearms, she needs to document at least three assassination attempts with the police, and even then, they seem hesitant to let her or her entourage of marines to carry.  Even more interesting, ever assassination attempt is swept under the rug, and all involved are reported by the news to have died in skiing accidents.  While investigating the short-leashed media, Kris discovers that only those descended from the first freemen to arrive on Eden have the right to vote.  Others, either immigrant or who descended from indentured servants, have no representation even though they are citizens who work as police officers, teachers, etc. It doesn’t take long for Kris to realize that the status quo government fears she will lead another class-based revolution and has no qualms with her leaving New Eden, even if it's feet first.

Ode to the first two Amendments
Audacious goes back to the wonderful military feel of the original Mutineer. I know not whether Mike Shepherd is politically conservative or liberal, but Audacious can be read as a cautionary tale for any society that considers itself evolved and safe simply because it is technologically advanced.  The major conflict of New Eden, without a doubt, is its lack of suffrage for all citizens, but the reason why living on New Eden is unsafe boils down to a lack of the first two amendments. There is a lack of free press, and the powerful pay dearly to keep the media ignorant of any crimes.  This includes a scene toward the end of the audiobook where Kris has to threaten the life of an official to get medical assistance to a battle scene after the police set up a roadblock, more interested in keeping the media back then letting in ambulances to save lives. The second is the right to firearms.  New Eden is a “safe” society, where no one, not even the military, should have deadly weapons. The problem is that in New Eden, like in most of our cities, those who operate outside the law already have weapons, leaving the law abiding vulnerable.

As I mentioned, the military is back in this audiobook.  There is an inspiring scene where Kris is invited by the marines to jog with them in the morning, but after she is detained by local authorities, a bunch of marines, including one who is injured, join to stand by her.  Kris realizes at that moment that, even though she’s Navy, she has been adopted by Corps.  Kris’s spine straightens when she realizes that they’re willing to die for her and, in return, she’s willing to die for them.  I also enjoyed the scene toward the end of the audiobook when after rendering honors to fallen Marines, Kris and her men leave New Eden to a futuristic rendition of the Marine Corps Hymn.
    From the Halls of Montezuma
    To the shores of Tripoli
    We will fight our country's battles
    On land, space and the sea
This audiobook also gives us a lot more on Abby.  We meet her mother, sister, and niece, and get to see the neighborhood on New Eden where she grew up.  It explains a lot about her motivation and character, and she even gets a possible love interest in this audiobook.

On Narration:
Dina Pearlman’s reading of Audacious reminded me of her reading of Deserter. She was back to a faster pace, the authoritative tone, and the solemnity necessary for war and battle.  I miss her Tommy accent, but there were no Irish or Lorna Dune people, so I was out of luck on that count.

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