When war ends, peace begins; but old grudges never die, and past enemies make uneasy neighbors. It’s a perfect setting for espionage; so let’s begin the Major Ariane Kedros trilogy by spying into Peacekeeper, by Laura E. Reeve.
First in a brand new action-packed military science fiction series, meet Major Ariane Kedros—daring pilot, decorated soldier, war criminal.
Fifteen years ago, Ariane Kedros piloted a ship on a mission that obliterated an entire solar system. Branded a war criminal, she was given a new identity and a new life in order to protect her from retribution.
But now, twelve of Ariane’s wartime colleagues are dead— assassinated by someone who has uncovered their true identities. And her superiors in the Autonomist army have placed her directly in the assassin’s line of fire on a peacekeeping mission that will decide the fate of all humanity…
Peacekeeper falls into that interesting category of sci-fi involving the future not of Earth as we know it, but of an alternate-history that already diverged in the distant past. In this case, Alexander the Great succeeded in unifying the Earth, resulting in the continued dominance of Greek language and culture up to the point humanity was contacted by the alien Minoans. Though it’s only a background detail unrelated to the specific details of the plot, it adds an interesting flavor of uniqueness to the setting. In that way, I’d say it’s most similar to R. M. Meluch’s military sci-fi series Tour of the Merrimack, which features heavy Roman cultural themes in its futuristic setting. Whereas Tour of the Merrimack is much more focused on active combat engagements and warfare, however, Peacekeeper is more intrigue-based: formerly warring sides ostensibly truce adhering to the terms of a truce while secretly still looking for advantage of the other.
To be honest, though, I actually prefer the more combat-heavy, action-oriented style of Tour of the Merrimack. With intrigue-based plots, I often have the problem where they’re either so simple that I figure them out in the first half of the book and spend the rest waiting for the characters to catch up, or so complicated that even after multiple re-reads I still can’t figure who exactly was betraying whom and why. Spin Control by Chris Moriarty is an example of the latter type, while this book unfortunately falls into the former. As soon as Cipher appeared in a flashback, and it was mentioned that Cipher’s “death” occurred out of order with the others and no body was recovered… well, the big reveal didn’t exactly come as a surprise.
Now, to be fair, I didn’t call the reveals of Jacinthe as the Terran mole or Mr. Customs as Nestor’s murderer. Then again, neither of those mysteries were given the same plot significance. The answers were basically just tossed out at the end in an “oh, and by the way…” aside.
In the book’s defense, though, the rest of it worked pretty well. I liked Ariane Kedros’s character: an old soldier given a new identity to avoid retribution for alleged war crimes, driven to substance abuse by the guilt over her actions during the war, still undertaking suspect black-ops missions for the military because she doesn’t know how to adjust to civilian life. And while the mystery of this particular book may have been a flop, it set up some juicy plot threads ripe for exploration in the rest of the trilogy: the new discovered non-Minoan alien ruins, and the imminent arrival of information which will confirm the uncertain consequences of the deployment of Temporal Distortion weapons against the Ura-Guinn system during the war. It has succeeded in getting me interested enough in the universe that I’ll be checking out the sequels.
Final Rating: 3/5