Kris Longknife: Daring, by Mike Shepherd, is the ninth book in a series I'd yet to read. Starting that far in, I was afraid I would have no idea what was going on or be able to get to know the characters easily. For the most part, the book did a great job of letting me know who was whom and what had come before. The only thing I think I needed to have read previous books to really understand involved Nelly the computer and her ...uh, children?
In Daring, Lieutenant Commander Kris Longknife, Commodore of the Fleet of Discovery heads out with an odd assortment of not-quite-allies to investigate the cause of ships disappearing at the edge of Iteeche space. Her fleet comes across a rather hostile species hellbent on destroying anyone that crosses their path.
While there seemed to be a lot of politics and machinations going on off-page, it wasn't prevalent and front-and-center in this novel like in the Honor Harrington series to which this series has been compared. This, to me, made the story move much more fluidly and kept the action at just the right level, with some pauses for good character development.
Our hero Kris Longknife is definitely not perfect. She sometimes makes the wrong decisions, in quiet moments she's unsure of herself at times, and at other times is headstrong and brash. Kris relies on her friends and retinue to keep her level.
The space combat was active and interesting. The technology was different enough from other military science fiction that it felt fresh, but similar enough that it wasn't outlandish. However, I did have to look up the word boffins. At first, in context, it almost felt derogatory. In addition, the Iteeche were an interesting alien species, and the threat of the new unknown aliens really upped the game.
This is great military science fiction, with little politics to get in the way of moving the story forward. Action, exploration, interesting characters, and maybe even some conspiracies afoot.
My rating: 4 Stars out of 5.
Kris Longknife: Daring, by Mike Shepherd, was provided to me by the publisher for review (thanks!). It's due in stores in paperback October 25, 2011.