“ Author: Aleksandr Voinov / Kindle Edition / 78 Pages / Book is published 2012-07-07 by Riptide Publishing „
Just 6 weeks ago, Kyle Juenger had a successful military career. It all seemingly ended when a blast from a Glyrinny designed blaster severed his spine and rendered him a paraplegic. Not considered high enough on the food chain to have his body fully restored, he finds himself outfitted with cumbersome prosthesis and retired on a barely liveable pension. In fact, he's on the brink of having to trade food credit and other parts of his living allowance just to be able to use public transport to get about, and actually runs completely out of transport credits the day he is summoned back to military HQ for a meeting with top brass.
Karl agrees to take on the hunt for a Glyrinny double agent who is making a run for Glyrinny space with stolen data. For one thing, the pay is beyond good- he can buy himself new cybernetic legs with the cash and possibly even go back to his home planet, though he hasn't made up his mind about that yet part yet. For the other thing, he really, really hates those Glyrinny. It was after all, one of their weapons that nearly ended his life, and put him into such physical and mental misery. The catch is, he must use a false identity as a criminal that has been established for him and no one else can know about his mission. Oh, and one more thing-the Glyrinny could be anybody quite literally, as the Glyrinny are a race of shape shifters. Armed only with his false identity and some data to trade, along with a lead that brings him to a certain mercenary ship, he heads out. What he doesn't expect is to find someone from his own home world on board, and a person of the high Warrior caste at that. Grimm too is very, very interested in Karl, and would like to get to know him in a much more intimate matter. This could complicate matters as Karl tries to get around to find where his Glyrinny could be hiding...
Voinov brings an intricately plotted and well executed tale of political intrigue and double dealings that unfolds with itself with an almost military precision of its own. Karl is a very disillusioned man. Growing up on a planet where he was first rejected for the warrior caste, he nonetheless pursued his dream by bucking tradition and going off-world, where he had a stellar career still on the rise until it was suddenly, and quite brutally, cut short. Finding out the hard way that the powers that be had no further use of him nor any real concern other than the minimum they could get away with, he's left feeling bitter and outcast. He sees the Commissariat's offer as one that offers him redemption of a sort, and even a bit of revenge, and he thinks that this will make him a whole man.
Grimm however stops him cold in several ways. The warrior caste of their home world not only protects the weak and helpless, but literally also help take on their burden. As someone who rejected his home world's teachings and left, Karl should be off the man's radar pretty much, but Grimm takes a particular fascination with him. Through Grimm, Karl not only begins to see that he is not defined by his disability, but that other assumptions he is holding about his personal condition may not be true. he is, however, puzzled as to just why Grimm is bothering with him. It makes him uneasy, as he sees himself as undesirable for so many reasons, not the least of which is his disability which he sees as making him somehow half a man.
The complex interpersonal dynamics of the pair as they travel to their agreed upon destination together while Karl tries to find the spy that may be a passenger or stowaway on board livens up what otherwise could have been yet another well written piece of space opera. It's not even about the sex- the pair make love just the once in an emotionally impacting scene, but it is a scene that proves to be pivotal for our hero in so many ways. At once examining the often underhanded tactics bureaucrats will use to further their aims, the poverty and lack of enough after-care disabled veterans often endure, as well themes of prejudice, ego, and an examination of the possible true scope of human potential, this short novel packs quite the story in within its pages.
Please note that while this story takes place in the same universe as one of his previous novels, Dark Edge of Honor, you don't have to have read Dark Edge to understand what is going on as they are stand alone stories set in the same fictional universe. I'd love to see a sequel featuring this particular duo and the rest of the mercenary crew however, as there are so many possibilities for what happens next as they journey along their adventures and while the conflict between the political factions continues to heat up.
This book is available as either a paperback or as an ebook, and I'd like to thank Riptide Books for providing me with my review edition. You can also follow Riptide Books (@Riptidebooks) and AleksandrVoinov(@AleksandrVoinov) via Twitter for the latest news on upcoming releases and other related news.