Jumpdrives & Cantrips

Kris Longknife: Audacious
February 3, 2008, 0021
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , ,


Mike Shepherd (aka Mike Moscoe) wrote the first Kris Longknife book in 2004 and since then put out 4 more books in the series, culminating in Kris Longknife: Audacious. I was excited to get my hands on this new installment, expecting the action and page-turning nature of the previous entires in the series. I like the Kris Longknife series, and have from the outset. Kris, the central protagonist in the series, is a multi-faceted character as the Princess of Wardhaven and a naval officer trying to cope with the fame of her family. Not something that’s always possible when her family rules her corner of the universe and pulls rank within upper echelons of both family and political realms.

This book in particular explores the conflict between her and her Grandfather Ray (aka The King of Many Planets), who plunks her on a “vacation” on the peaceful and relaxing New Eden. As any astute reader expects New Eden has a few snakes in the garden, to the tune of multiple assassination attempts on Kris as well as civil unrest. And of course, what Kris Longknife book would be complete without more Peterwald family plots? In the first book of the series her interactions with the Peterwalds were questionable, and have only gone downhill from there. The Peterwalds are almost a pleasant and expected villain: they are to Kris as Elmer Fudd is to Bugs Bunny, just with more explosions and less humour. For some reason though, the plot treats the Peterwalds as throwaway villains whose motives are never fully explored.

Mike Shepherd puts a strong emphasis on class differences and freedom of information thematically, but any message is buried in the frequent rah-rah marines-are-gods statements and poor copy editing. I thought perhaps this was an inherent irony, but I suspect not. With Kris’ privileged station in life and her position as a military officer it’s unfortunate the author didn’t give these themes the full attention readers deserve. It took some effort to stay involved in the story because the characters and plot offer little to connect with, which is unusual for this series.

Sadly this book took a well-established series of enjoyable light-hearted sci-fi fluff and turned instead to choppy plotting, cardboard characters, and staid platitudes. And I have to say this: I suspect at least 3 or 4 trained sets of eyes went over the manuscript, yet there were a plethora of errors that made me stop and shout something about every 20 minutes at best (ask my husband–he had to hear about each error). For fans of the series there is light at the end of the tunnel; after a full book of reacting, Kris finally takes some action that may burn some bridges. The concluding chapter offers a promising story arc. So despite my disappointment in this volume, I am optimistic that the next book in the series will move in new directions.

The bottom line: Kris Longknife: Audacious is a passable read if not the gem of the series. I’m hoping this is all just symptomatic of Kris’ growing pains, and Mike Shepherd will make it up to us in the end after such a promising start.

Shepherd, Mike. Kris Longknife: Audacious. New York: Ace Books, 2007.  373 pages. $10.99 (Canadian).


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