Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mutineer – the Kris Longknife series, Book 1

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

Author: Mike Shepherd 
Narrator: Dina Pearlman4 out of 5 
Length: 14:26 hours, purchased on audible

In the 24th Century, Kris Longknife is a 22-year-old daughter of the prime minister of the planet, Wardhaven.  She is also one of “those Longknifes” – a family with a formidable military and political reputation, having living grandfathers who are legendary war heros.  She should be smiling at bureaucrats, kissing babies and shaking hands at balls.  Instead, Kris is a newly minted naval officer, exploring space while trying to make her way up the ranks on her own merit.  In the beginning of The Mutineer, Kris saves the life of a little girl in a hostage situation, only to learn that the entire conflict was a staged trap to have the daughter of the prime minister of Wardhaven killed.  Dodging assassination attempts, Kris must go to the planet Olympia to help feed a distressed, lawless planet, while the universe is on the brink of civil war.
Join the Society’s 24th Century Navy; see the Universe:
This book has some really wonderful elements. First of all, it's sci fi/high fiction, so we're in the 24th century, on a few different planets. Even so, it's more a military novel, following the Navy career of Kris Longknife and the political structure of the Society among over 100 planets that have human life expansion. We don't see any aliens, and most fantastic elements have to do with computers and technology. I should mention that the book was written in 2004, meaning that Nelly - Kris's personal (pet) AI computer - is probably a bit less powerful than the newest Android.

Be it as it may, the story is excellent, and very, very military. If you're into the politics of internal command hierarchy, or into rescue and humanitarian distress mission, it's a fun read. It's also interesting to hear a man write a story where the heroine is a 22-year-old female. He gets a lot of things right, but I think it's more because she's a soldier, and Mike Shepherd was Navy himself, so he knows a thing or two in the regard.

My only real criticism is that this book was a lack of cohesion - it seemed to be separated in three parts: rescue mission & return home (very well done; we really understand Kris's history from the mission, and we get a good understanding of her family - the prime minister family of an entire planet - from her return home); humanitarian mission on Olympia (this part sags. It tells us a lot of Kris's character and leadership abilities, but it gets too bogged down in the moral implications and reflections on a soldier's duties); and mission to attack (this is the crowning moment and the name-sake of the book).  Unfortunately, these three parts don't meld too well. I would have liked to see a bit less soldiering, a bit more politicking, and maybe even a love interest beyond one guy asking Kris out to lunch.

On Narration:
Dina Pearlman is excellent. If you are familiar with Jeanne C. Stein's Anna Strong series, or Rachel Caine's Weather Warden series, you know what I mean. She does a wonderful Irish accent, which takes up a good half-hour of reading when the Highlanders visit Olympia. She also does a great job with internal dialogue versus external dialogue. At times in the book, Kris makes comments basically to herself. Since the book is written in third-person, the way Dina Pearlman reads these lines versus external dialogue is very important to the listener, and she does it successfully.

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