Major Ariane Kedros #2: Vigilante

So you’ve taken over a building, sealing all the exits and taking everyone inside hostage, and it seems nothing can stop your evil plan now. But then, next thing you know, there’s someone crawling through the air ducts, killing your minions and shouting “Yippee-ki-yay!”. Vigilantes, am I right? We now return to the Major Ariane Kedros trilogy with Vigilante, by Laura E. Reeve.

Synopsis:

Amidst an uneasy peace between the Autonomists and the Terrans, Major Ariane Kedros and her partner, Matthew Journey, have discovered alien ruins on a remote planet – ruins that bear evidence to an ancient and highly advanced technology. But their discovery has drawn the interest of high stakes players from every corner of the universe – including that of the rogue leader of a fringe Terran sect. Ari must find a way to stop him, before they all become ancient history…

Source: Goodreads

SPOILERS BELOW

When we last left off the Major Ariane Kedros trilogy, Ariane had discovered the ruins of a previously unknown alien civilization, and news was about to arrive regarding the effects of the Temporal Distortion weapon deployed against Ura-Guinn during the war 15 years ago. Excited to follow up with those plot lines? Too bad, because that’s not what this book is about. Rather, the whole the thing is dedicated to a cult of crazy misogynists stealing a TD warhead and the protagonists having to stop them. It’s Die Hard in SPACE! …No, that would be giving it too much credit. In Die Hard, Bruce Willis is sneaking around waging guerrilla warfare against the terrorists, whereas here Ariane gets captured right away and spends pretty much the whole book in captivity doing nothing. Let’s see: terrorists, weapon of mass destruction, misogyny… it’s True Lies in SPACE! And if you can say one thing about True Lies, it’s that… it wasn’t Arnold’s worst movie ever?

To be fair, there was nothing really wrong with the plot of the book. Terrorist cult steals a weapon of mass destruction and the protagonists have to stop them – perfectly fine hook. My main issue is, for a book in the Major Ariane Kedros trilogy, Major Ariane Kedros didn’t really do very much. It was Sergeant Joyce and Maria who were actually sneaking around fighting terrorists while Ariane languished in a prison cell. I mean, the title of the book is Vigilante; and what with the picture on the cover of Ariane firing a big gun and the subtitle “a Major Ariane Kedros novel”, you’d think that it would refer to Ariane. But the only time the word comes up in the novel is when the antagonist Abram says “I have to deal with a minor outbreak of vigilantism on Beta Primos”, and he’s not talking about Ariane – he’s talking about Joyce and Maria. I would have appreciated Ariane getting a bit more of a role in her own novel, is what I’m saying.

Alright, alright, enough with the complaining; onto the stuff I liked. I liked the bit at the beginning with Ariane taking the first steps to work out her addiction issues. I liked the Muse 3 AI developing further as a character. I liked Matt and David Ray giving us our first look at the inside of a Minoan spacecraft. I liked the subplot about Maria trying to defect from Terra to the Consortium. I liked the idle speculation about Boltzmann brains. I liked pretty much everything except the main plot, because reading about Ariane doing nothing was boring. Oh, and also except for the sections focused on Tahir. Because Ariane was boring, but Tahir was actively repugnant. I think we’re supposed to sympathize with him because he’s “less bad” than the other terrorists? But really, he’s totally fine with using the TD weapon to kill everyone in the system; the only part he has a problem with is becoming a martyr to the cause instead of saving his own greasy skin. So no, I wasn’t really feeling it in his sections. …And somehow talking about the stuff I liked has segued right back into my problems with the book.

“You bastards think mourning is women’s work? Wait and see what justice can be, when served by a woman.”
– Major Ariane Kedros, Chapter 12

A very badass boast; which would carry more weight if Ariane actually had delivered justice, instead of leaving that actual work to Sergeant Joyce and his band of vigilantes, and the Minoans and their warriors, and the rescue force lead by Colonel Edones, and pretty much every other non-terrorist character in the book.

Well, I may have my complaints; but really, the book was fine–

…Hey, whatever did happen with Maria? She pretty much disappeared from the narrative after she and Joyce parted ways in the Command Post. I think there’s a brief one-sentence mention in chapter 24 confirming she’s among the survivors once everything’s over, but what about her plan to defect? Is anything going to come of that? Can a character get some subplot resolution over here?

Anyway! As I was saying, I may have my complaints; but really, the book was mostly fine. An enjoyable enough read, despite its problems. Decent. Adequate. Basically okay. It had enough good stuff to outweigh the bad, at any rate. But seriously: I’m hoping for better from the third novel in the trilogy.

Final Rating: 3/5

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