July 8th, 2014

_Vicky Peterwald: Target_, Mike Shepherd SPOILERS RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN FASTER NOW

The Kris Longknife series is getting kind of leggy; it has moved into oooo super scary big bad guys out on the edge of the known universe and we must unite with our multi-generational enemies to have a hope of surviving territory. So just as Hemry/Campbell's Black Jack Geary series has a series of novels written from the point of view of some ex-Syndics, now the Longknife series has a series? written from the perspective of a Peterwald from Greenfield.

If you cannot figure any of this out, you definitely shouldn't start with this entry.

Vicky is like a slutty Kris, altho unlike Kris, she completely misplaces her entourage in book 1. Which is weird -- I kept waiting for them to reappear but maybe they never will. Hope they are okay. Longknifes and Peterwalds alike are subject to repeat assassination attempts. In Vicky's case, it is a lot more about family and a lot less about galaxy-level rivals. Step-mom, or step-mom's family really just will not stop. It would be funny -- I think it is intended to be funny -- but there is so much collateral damage that it is mostly just disturbing.

I had mixed feelings about Vicky's sluttiness. On the one hand, I whole-heartedly approve of sexuality being detailed in novels, preferably in the service of relationship development, and I have no warm, fuzzy feelings for monogamy. On the other hand, I am not a fan of The Player, and I _am_ committed to the idea of consent. Consent is compromised in a _lot_ of the sex in this book. If you have any rape triggers, you might want to stay away. It is mostly empowering, from Vicky's perspective (and I did HEY SPOILERS RUN THE FUCK AWAY ALREADY DON'T YOU REALIZE WHOSE BLOG YOU ARE READING?), especially the central event where her cute dead gets mowed down and she has to slaughter her would-be rapist/torturer/murderers and then ride the bus around town until she can find some Navy people to help her escape. And to Shepherd's credit, Vicky primarily uses sex as a basic need, an enjoyable activity and a stress reliever/way to get to sleep. If you're not going to use it to develop relationships, this is definitely a second best in character development.

The politics of the Peterwald empire don't make much sense. That palace didn't sound that expensive, compared to the number of planets they are collecting taxes from. The tax collection system sounds pseudo-ancient-Roman, sort of pre-Soviet era Tsarist Russia. And the dinners at the palace and the clothing sound straightforwardly ancien regime. Kudos for picking some classy historical sources, but it's a bummer they aren't integrated better into a total picture of culture of the Peterwald worlds.

As with Hemry/Campbell, Shepherd uses a lot of idiomatic language that is difficult to believe would still be around in a far flung space faring future. On the one hand, it is usually in the service of the story. On the other, it is jarring.

If this is the kind of thing you like, you're probably already reading the Longknife series. I don't think this would make much sense as a standalone, but it might be fun anyway, if you like an appealing anti-heroine.