The Ship Avenged
Written by: S.M. Stirling
Published By: Baen Books
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
Believe it or not, I still have some books left in that $20.00 box of 20 hardcover science fiction novels purchased on eBay that I haven’t read yet. I decided to pull one from the stack and realized that I might have a problem with this one. The Ship Avenged by S.M. Stirling was part of a series of novels begun by Anne McCaffrey and S.M. Stirling. I was afraid that by reading this book and starting in the middle of the series, I might be totally lost from page one. As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about.
As the novel begins, we are introduced to the Kolnari, a warlike race who once sought to rule the universe. Their terroristic ways were thwarted when a virus was let loose among their people, virtually wiping out whole armies and culling their numbers. The Kolnari ruler, Belazir, wants revenge and what better way than to let loose a new manufactured virus amongst his mortal enemies, the Bethelites. His plan is to capture the Bethelites’ leader, Benisur Amos ben Sierra Nueva, inject him with the virus and return him to his people to spread the infection. However, he wasn’t counting on Joat Simeon-Hap.
A survivor of the war on SSS-900-C and a woman fully aware of what the Kolnari are capable of, Joat is called upon to help rescue the leader of the Bethelites. More than happy to help, Joat has no idea what she is getting herself into, especially when Central Worlds Security gets involved in the rescue operation. Can Joat save Benisur Amos from the Kolnari? Can she prevent the virus from being spread across the galaxy? And when one of her crew members is captured by the Kolnari, can Joat go the distance to save him from certain death?
I was surprised to discover that once I started reading The Ship Avenged, I found the storyline very easy to follow. Of course, I was coming into things midway through the series, but the author had clearly thought of this, providing new readers with insight into what had happened in the storyline prior to this novel. Bits and pieces were revealed throughout the story and not once did I ever feel lost. I was completely up to speed in the storyline and capable of following this new adventure without a hitch. And what an adventure this was!
I was immediately invested in the character of Joat Simeon-Hap and her outcome. Nothing comes easy for Joat Simeon-Hap. We learn this has always been the case from the very beginning, but this adventure is especially trying. Not only does it seem like everyone is out to thwart or use Joat for their own personal objectives, but we discover that one of the contacts she must use to get access to the Kolnari is a member of her own family who abandoned her years before. Joat has a score to settle, but must remember that the mission comes first – not an easy prospect considering what Joat had gone through after being abandoned. The mission becomes even harder once Joat realizes that all she has struggled to attain – her ship, her reputation, her AI friend – hang in the balance. With every page turned, I found myself rooting for Joat to succeed.
There is plenty of action and intrigue to be had in The Ship Avenged. S.M. Stirling’s writing is mesmerizing and I felt withdrawals every time I had to put the book down to do menial things like eat, sleep or work. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next. Three hundred fifty plus pages flew by like they were nothing and once I had turned the last page, I found myself wanting to read the other novels in the series to see how things started prior to this novel and what events would transpire after this adventure was complete.
The world created by Anne McCaffrey and S.M. Stirling is thoroughly intriguing and I truly want to learn more about it. Warring religious nations, artificially intelligent beings capable of self-awareness, major space battles , greedy mercenaries, greedy politicians – this novel has it all. I was thoroughly impressed with The Ship Avenged and can’t wait to check out the rest of the series.