Monday, January 23, 2017

#Monday Review - The Blockade by Jean Johnson #Science Fiction @AceRocBooks

Series: First Salik War # 3
Format: E-Galley, 416 pages
Release Date: November 29th 2016
Publisher: ACE
Source: NetGalley
Genre: Science Fiction

The First Salik War is underway, and the Alliance is losing—their newest allies must find a way to win, or everyone will be slaughtered.  Though committed to helping their V’Dan cousins, the Terrans resent how their allies treat them. The V’Dan in turn feel the Terrans are too unseasoned to act independently. And the other nations fear that ending the Salik War means starting a Human Civil War.   Even as Imperial Prince Li’eth and Ambassador Jackie MacKenzie struggle to get their peoples to cooperate, they still face an ethical dilemma: How do you stop a ruthless, advanced nation from attacking again and again without slaughtering them in turn?

The Blockade is the third and final installment in author Jean Johnson's First Salik War trilogy. If you are new to the series, let me summarize where we stand. The first thing you need to know is that this series takes place 200 years before the authors Theirs Not To Reason Why series. If you've read that series, you can immediately jump into this series since it's the beginning of how things will eventually shape up in Theirs No to Reason Why

Jacaranda (Jackie) MacKenzie is one of two main characters along with Li'Eth. Jackie is a very powerful psychic who served with honesty, and integrity over her military and political career. In Terrans, Jackie was called back to military service by the United Planets because precogs saw her meeting new races of aliens. She was given bumps in rank, and took up the mantle of Ambassador of the Terran United Planets. As with Star Trek, United Planets takes seriously their role in First Contact with new aliens. Which leads to Jackie and her crew meeting the vile Salik who love to eat people alive, and a human race called the V'Dan lead by Crown Prince Li'eth Ma'an-uq'en who they rescue and take back to earth. 

In book # 2, The V'Dan, huge issues flared up between the humans and the V'Dan over the fact that humans have given up completely identity politics to identity a person. The V'Dan believe humans are children because they don't have the same markings, which set Jackie off on repairing damage that could have led to catastrophe. As the end of the book, the hated Salik attacked the V'Dan home world, and casualties
rose quickly. Jackie and her Gestalt partner Li'eth saved the day. (Gestalt means rare quantum entanglement of psychic minds.) But, that doesn't stop his sister Princess Vi'alla from being ungrateful and churlish to the point where Jackie makes a powerful decision to shut down the Embassy and have no further contact with the V'Dan or Alliance. As if that weren't bad enough, Li'Eth finds himself sent away from Jackie which is not a good thing.

The Blockade picks up right where The V'Dan left off. The story is filled with politics, and a plethora of details that perhaps could have been cut back a bit. It is a book that weaves back and forth between Jackie and Li'Eth as they both try to cobble up an alliance with, yes, the Alliance of different alien species in order to fight off the Salik. Is there action? Is there adventure? Is there romance? Yes to all three. Does the author explain how she gets from this series to the Theirs No to Reason Why? AbsolutelyI have to say that I respect the V'Dan Empress, aka Li'Eth's mother. She sees a good thing by helping the Motherworld humans, and in return, see's a solid investment in having humans colonize various planets and bringing more commerce to their world.

She also slowly understands how important the Gestalt link between Jackie and her son really is, and that if they are separated, they could both die. She is really the third most important character in this book next to Jackie & Li'Eth when all is said and done. This story is filled with secondary characters that either play important roles, or are just there to make the story more militaristic in nature. After all, you can't fight a war without generals, admirals, soldiers, sailors, and marines on the front lines. I loved how strong Jackie was throughout this entire series, and I loved her decision at the end of the book. I dare say that her choice took a whole lot of courage. 

Would I read Theirs No to Reason Why after reading this trilogy? Yes I would and the reason is simple. The Alliance plus Earth made a huge choice at the end of this book in regards to the Salik. I would like to know what happens after 200 years of a Blockade, and the characters that are expected to pick up the pieces left a very long time ago by Jackie, Li'Eth, and their allies.

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