Science Fiction


Written By: Karen Traviss

Published By: EOS

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I love the Wess’har Wars series of novels by Karen Traviss.  I’ve been reading them slow so I can savor each one.  I just finished the fourth book in the series, Matriarch, and the series still hasn’t lost its magic for me.

                When we last left F’nar airspace, former Marine Ade and his Wess’har “brother” Aras had done the unthinkable.  You may remember Agent Mohan Rayat and former Marine Lindsay Neville and their failed attempt to destroy the organism known as c’naatat.  Having polluted the water of Bezer’ej by detonating cobalt-laced explosives, the two unwittingly destroyed most of the Bezeri, a water-based species.  Upon delivering Rayat and Neville to the Bezeri for their punishment, Ade and Aras never expect that the two would volunteer to aid the Bezeri in their quest to preserve their history before it’s too late.  Of course, the only way they can survive below the water is for Ade to infect them with the dreaded c’naatat.

                Ade and Aras must now return and reveal what they have done to the love of their lives, former cop Shan Frankland.  Having spaced herself to keep anyone from getting their hands on c’naatat and bringing it back to Earth, Shan is probably not going to be pleased.  Add to that the fact that Eqbas is about to invade Isenj airspace and make good on their promise to rehabilitate their world per their now deceased leader’s request, despite the disagreement of the rest of the people living there.  Oh, and by the way, remember the ussisi who jumped out of the airlock with Shan?  Well, he’s still alive thanks to c’naatat, suffering the same amount of damage Shan did, yet still surviving. 

                And that’s not the worst of it.  Shan is starting to feel ill, something that she has never experienced since c’naatat was introduced to her bloodstream.  And the reason for that illness is something Shan Frankland could never have fathomed.  It’s something that will cause her to question every decision she has made regarding c’naatat over the years.

                Just when you think Karen Traviss has nothing else to offer that will surprise you in this series, she gives us Matriarch with all sorts of twists and turns.  This book will definitely get you talking – if not about what it means to destroy our planet or the means of preserving what is left of it, then about outcomes versus motives or the morality of our actions.  There are good arguments to be had here and I love the fact that the Wess’har and Eqbas, though fundamentally desiring the same thing, are on different sides of the argument as to how to save organics from themselves. 

                I loved the way the book parallels what is going on in the world today.  The concept of global warming and how we are systematically destroying our planet is explored on a much grander scale in this book.  Set in the future, the reader is able to see what our world can become should we decide not to do anything to fix it.  Personally, I think we may be too far gone.  I believe that we will some day have a planet like Isenj, devoid of any plant and animal life that isn't synthesized.  A sad future to look forward to indeed.

                The shockers in this novel are plentiful and will keep you guessing at outcomes every step of the way.  The final chapters will have you saying, “Holy crap,” “No way” and “No, she didn’t!”  In fact, I found myself so absorbed in the events of the novel, I was saying these things out loud, much to the humor of the people sitting around me.  Slightly embarrassing, but when a book is this good, who cares about what people think about your outbursts.  Perhaps they will be so intrigued, they will read Matriarch as well and you will have some new debating partners.

                I can’t wait to read the fifth book in the Wess’har Wars series.  With that shocker of an ending, I just have to know what happens next and how Shan Frankland is going to react!


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