Review of Peacekeeper – Book 1 of the Ariane Kedros series by Laura E. Reeve

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Military science fiction fans might find the cover of this debut novel from Reeve somewhat misleading, as it isn’t merely some high-octane, shoot-‘em-up kill fest. Not that I’ve got anything against such books – they’re great escapist blasts. But Peacekeeper is something more.

peacekeeperFifteen years ago, Ariane Kedros piloted a ship on a mission that obliterated an entire solar system. Branded a war criminal, she was given a new identity and had to forge a new life. In return, as a Reservist, she regularly goes on undercover missions where she does her duty – and someone else’s dirty work. But now twelve of Ariane’s wartime colleagues and friends are dead – assassinated by someone who has discovered their true identities. And her superiors have placed her directly in the assassin’s line of fire on a peacekeeping mission that will decide the fate of all humanity…

Apparently, as an Air Force officer, Reeve participated in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and she has put those experiences to good use in Peacekeeper. In the world she has constructed, the Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds still regard each other with suspicion and dislike years after the war between them has ended – and it falls to the enigmatic alien race, the Minoans, to broker and keep the peace between them.

This adventure story is set in a complex, multi-layered world, with the mandatory tough-yet-vulnerable female protagonist. But what sets it apart for me are the themes explored within all the non-stop action. The guilt Ariane Kedros feels over her part in the obliteration of the Ura-Guinn system is doubtless a useful plot twist to give the character extra depth and interest – but it also raises the issue of when a serving soldier should turn around and say ‘no’. None of the Kedros’ team did so – and they all pay a high price. Can remorse redeem such a terrible act? One of the characters is convinced it can…

Reeve also explores the idea of revenge and at what point it stops being a natural reaction to a terrible wrong and becomes something a lot darker – or maybe that’s what it always is. And before you go away with the impression that this book is full of declamatory rambles about these ideas (let’s face it – we’ve all read ‘em…), I’d like to reassure you that Reeve manages to embed her themes within the story such that neither the pace or narrative tension lets up for a nanosec to accommodate them.
All in all, this is a cracking, enjoyable read that manages to raise some interesting issues along the way, making it a cut above much of this sub-genre. I’ve already gone out and bought the sequel…
9/10

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