Promise is a Marine for the Republic, having signed up after witnessing the death of her pacifist father by pirates. Now she can get off the backwater planet where she was born and instead roam the universe, fighting against the same kind of criminals who killed her father.
But in a twist of fate, Promise is promoted for the very purpose of representing the Republic on her home planet, Montana, as a sort of public relations gesture. In the past the Republic hasn’t done its best protecting the rim planets from pirates and the Empire. Now it’s Promise and a single company of Marines assigned to protect a planet of ninety-eight million people, with only the help of a couple of scraggly space platforms, and an aging warship to patrol the orbit. No wonder the Montanans’ view of the Republic is less than stellar.
However, before Promise’s assignment is up she must prove her mettle in the face of impossible odds.
Recently I read the Paradox series (EBR Review) by Rachel Bach, which I really liked, but I wouldn’t exactly call that military Science Fiction. I hated the first Kris Longknife book. I disliked the Theirs Not to Reason Why series with the shrill Ia (EBR Review). I suppose ANCILARY JUSTICE (EBR Review) was close to the genre… OK who am I kidding. I’m totally not the target audience for these books. Seriously, Promise changes her last name to Paen. So her name is Promise Paen. Everyone takes it seriously. And I thought women Urban Fantasy writers got silly sometimes–they have nothing on Military Science Fiction.
So Promise is in a bind. It’s actually entertaining to watch her squirm as she works around the problems that fall in her lap. She’s way more believable than Kris Longknife or Ia. She wants to do the right thing and is willing to take the risks necessary. Bauers does an admirable job helping us to differentiate between the members of Promise’s company since the majority of the first 3/4 of the book is spent in Promise’s viewpoint. Then as the action ramps up the PoV spreads out between the company members, ships, and the enemy, sometimes going omniscient. I understand why it was necessary, but it could have been smoother (see our editorial on PoV Commentary).
The setting was a standard multi-planet post-Earth universe with spaceships, the Republic and Empire competing for resources. There was plenty of military jargon and commentary on equipment (yawn). Montana’s independent, gun-toting culture could have been annoyingly stereotyped, but hey, I live in Idaho. I know people like this. And Promise’s attitude toward the populace was refreshingly tolerant, and she eventually comes to appreciate who they are despite their foibles.
The real problem with the book was the pacing. It took about page 80 before something happened, and not until the second half of the book when things really got going. The prologue has her sitting on a ship cleaning her gear when her long-dead mother appears to her. Um, what? Then we see her father’s death, Promise joining up, some of her training. It was boring. I slogged through it, though, when I usually give up at page 50. That’s what EBR is for.
Promise has to be clever for what’s coming, she uses her resources, and the end is bloody, brutal, and bittersweet (even if it’s predictable). This is the kind of book that would be fun for your summer plane ride. It isn’t long or requires deep thinking.
- Recommended Age: 15+
- Language: Surprisingly little
- Violence: Lots
- Sex: Referenced