For that reason, this military scifi -closer to hard scifi than soft- might lose readers who do not enjoy instant immersion in a secondary world or prefer a lecturing narrator, but everything is explained in one way or another and everything is not unfamiliar, invented or an acronym. I liked that she is not afraid to portray the more "mundane" elements -that is, the deciding elements- of events, the goings-on behind the scenes of treaties. Reeve's characters are all also nicely fleshed-out, even the villains, although I would have liked more development. Main character Ariane is undercover, and I enjoyed the extra layer of tension as she maintained her disguise. But let me explain it anyway..." Although Ariane's alcohol addiction was a nice touch and added some grey, I actually thought Edones was the most believable and interesting character, so I hope he's in the sequel.
Ariane Kedros, however, has a secret, several years earlier, she was the pilot on a secret mission, for the Autotomous World's who were engaged in a war with Terra, and her crew deployed a temporal distortion Bomb (TD Bomb), which has the power to destroy a sun, but whose primary purpose was to destroy a space buoy, a kind of navigational buoy that allows flight to that area. Although the cover of the book seems to show this as a military science fiction tale, its more like an espionage story as Kedros seeks to find out who is after her and the person she is trying to protect.
There are some fascinating SF concepts in this book--the difference between humans raised on "generational" ships versus those born on planets; a body control technique mastered by some Terrans; the character of Colonel Edones, who may or may not have a thing for the heroine; and the alien race called Minoans. What kept me from really enjoying this book was the overuse of acronyms and too little insight into the main character.
Rather than have a dedicated and loyal crew of space-faring lugs from central casting as her backups, she has her boss from MI who is using her and possibly in love with her, and her other boss from the ship she pilots (2-person crew) who's loyal and maybe in love with her too. The book had a good pace. I almost didn't get the book because the cover is so kitschy, but the half-off price was too good to pass up.
Veiled and mysterious even now after a century of intercourse, the Minoans offered humanity N_space access, key to the stars in return for trade, and they play scrupulously by the laws of the respective polity they deal with. Opposing it, the Terran Expansionist League, known as TerraXL, is a mysterious society, seemingly hierarchical, and ruled by a group of "Overlords", practicing strict genetic controls and aiming at evolving humanity in a race of "superhumans", though from what we glimpse of it, the TerraXL does not seem a particularly grim place either, just a different set of rules that many people accept willingly. Fifteen years ago, the CAW ledership sent a TD armed starship piloted by our main heroine of the novel, currently known as Ariane Kedros, to fire it in the Ura-Guinn system, destroying the N-space buoy and presumably the sun which would have led "indirectly" to the deaths of 4 billion people, so under a strict legalistic interpretation it did not violate the Protocols. A sublight ship has been sent to Ura-Guinn and is set to report in 4 months after installing a new buoy. Matt Journey is an early thirties generation ship drop off and now explorer and majority owner of Aether Exploration which may have got a big strike at a recently opened planet - strike that means possible enormous wealth generation but also potentially fatal career ending attention from all the three big powers including the Minoans as well as various shady independents.
Distance is equal to time here and many of the characters issues revolve around not knowing the result of their actions to a full extent. I have a hard enough time relating to many female characters, but add to that a dependence issue and youve lost me. Characters that react and change given circumstances like SP Parmet are very real to me. I wish the author had given more time to Nestors Muse and what was actually found by Matt while out prospecting, but Im guessing these things will come up in later novels.
A huge amount of time is spent setting up things for later books in the series. This is like reading the plot of a first Spider-Man (or Batman) movie: there's so much time spent setting everything up and explaining why things are happening that there's no time for the thin plot to really get going.
Kedros also discovers that an assassin has been targeting her crew from her previous identity as a commander who was ordered to launch a weapon that devastated an entire solar system, making her a war criminal in the eyes of the empire that is now part of the peace treaty.