This exciting addition to a fantastic space opera series continues to provide a mesmerizing multi-layered read. It is exhausting to think of all of the constant consultations performed by the heroine to make sure that events are unfolding as they should and the stark example of the ‘butterfly effect’ made a significant impression, not only because it showed that Ia is capable of great emotion but it also demonstrated her dedication to her cause and willingness to put her body on the line for her beliefs. I was thrilled to see the reappearance of those important to Ia and enjoyed watching her crew (including the requisite spies) being won over to the cause. There are plenty of exciting descriptions of military engagements for those who are fond of such things but there is a beautifully emotional depiction of the price required to ensure that the final goal is feasible, no matter who it harms or how much regret is engendered. The understated humor and veiled insults that Ia wields in addition to her firm conveyance of the logic behind her actions is contrasted with the reactions evoked in those she interacts with, whether alien or human, and the exquisite way she tailors her actions to the audience. I think that it would be easy to fall into the spell woven by this wonderfully talented author if one hasn’t read the rest of the series but this story is best savored by starting at the beginning with “A Soldier’s Duty”. That way you can fall under the spell and join me as I cheer for Ia’s accomplishments and mourn for her losses and anxiously await the next installment of her adventures.
“Hellfire” by Jean Johnson is part of the enthralling ‘Theirs Not to Reason Why’ science fiction series. Ia is a massive precognitive who is also known as the Prophet to some of the Feyori and has honed many of her skills, including electrokinesis and her ability to use what she calls the timeplains. She has become captain of the ship known as Hellfire which is armed with the Godstrike cannon and staffed it with a handpicked crew who are known as Ia’s Damned and who become her greatest asset in the war against the Salik. Ia constantly navigates the narrow path that she sees as the only way to save the most beings in the future but she is sorely tested in her convictions, and challenged by her need to deal with the ‘Meddlers’, the Feyori who object to her half-blood connection to them. The struggle to constantly juggle a myriad of potentially fateful choices exert a horrendous pressure upon the driven female but she never loses sight of her goal, no matter how many obstacles she has to destroy, avoid or restructure. She just has to make sure she has the right beings around her at the right time. Simple for a precognitive, right? Definitely not.
Her story began in the national bestsellers A Soldier’s Duty and An Officer’s Duty. Now Ia is captain and commander at the helm of Hellfire, where she is finally free to chart the course for the fulfillment of her destiny?
As captain, Ia must now assemble a crew that can rise to the ultimate challenge of saving the galaxy. The hardest part will be getting them to believe her, to trust in her prophecies. If they don’t, her own crew will end up being the biggest obstacle in her race against time.
The Salik are breaking through the Blockade, plunging the known galaxy into war. Ia cannot stop it this time, nor does she want to. This is the terrible price she has seen all along?that some must pay with their lives so that others might live. Now only time itself can prove whether each member of her crew is merely a soldier or truly one of Ia’s Damned.