Title: A Soldier's Duty
Author: Jean Johnson
Series: Theirs Not to Reason Why, book 1
Genre: Sci-Fi, Military
Publisher: Ace Books
...What if you could see the future? What if you foresaw that, three hundred years from your time, your entire galaxy would be destroyed in an overwhelming invasion? What would you do to stop it, when it would all happen long after you were dead and gone?
These are the questions that Ia must face, and the obstacles she must overcome. Spurred by her teenaged visions of an apocalyptic future, the young heavyworlder woman seeks to set up a series of events, a domino-chain of actions and repercussions that will hopefully stop the coming invaders long after her time has passed. But in order to do so, she must enter the military and engage in a four-front war: an old, barely contained enemy whose twin goals of galactic conquest and lunch terrify all sane sentients; an ancient foe whose technology vastly outstrips anything the Alliance can fling at it; a fanatic, xenophobic religious movement on her homeworld which Ia dares not stop; and her ongoing battle against Time itself.
If Ia fails, the stars and planets of the Milky Way will cease to exist, and so will the countless lives that depend on them. But the odds of her winning the ultimate battle are very, very small, when even the slightest, most innocent-seeming misstep could domino down through time in the wrong way, and doom untold septillions of sentients to a dark and terrifying fall. Bound by the ice of her duty, burned by the fires of her conscience, driven by what she foresees, Ia must become the herald of death herself:
The soldier known as Bloody Mary.
At a very early age, Ia started to develop her precognitive abilities; but the vision she had when she was fifteen years old was the one that changed her life. Ia knows the galaxy and all its inhabitants will die in 300 years, unless she does something about it. After long studies of the Time Streams Ia finds a way to save the galaxy, but everything has to be done perfect, any little discrepancy will have terrible consequences.
For three years Ia has prepared herself to join the marines, she has study all she needs to know and taken the necessary precautions to achieve her goals. Ia knows she needs to ace her training and get recognition for her plans to succeed. The legend of Bloody Mary not only needs to be born, but also needs to be known in the military world.
Couple of weeks ago I read The Terrans (first book in the First Salik War series) by Jean Johnson. Johnson said in the introduction that the First Salik War was a -200 years- prequel series to her Theirs Not to Reason Why series. I loved The Terrans so much that as soon as I finished it I started to read A Soldier's Duty.
First, I have to say that although both series are set in the same world and they portrait the same alien races, they are very different from the other. For once, the First Salik War series or at least The Terrans is Sci-Fi Opera, while Theirs Not to Reason Why is a military sci-fi series. I can see people liking one series, but not the other. Luckily for me I enjoyed both.
On the beginning, Ia is a difficult character to connect with because she feels detached from her surroundings, but after a while, when you start to know her better, you realize she has to be that way to protect herself. She knows what she has to do and she knows many people are going to die in the process. She also knows some of those people are close to her, for that reason she tries to keep emotionally apart from her surroundings; it’s the only way for her to survive all that is coming.
Apart from her precognitive abilities, Ia also possesses abilities like telekinesis, telepathy and biokinetic among others. Those abilities help her survive difficult situations with very little consequences or losses. At times, that makes her be perceived a little bit Mary Sue-ish.
The secondary characters are many and diverse. They all make part of a bigger scheme, the one that Ia has been planning since her first vision of doom.
The story sets the pace for what is to come; it’s also the introduction to Ia, her plans and her future. The story is also very military charged and in certain cases the military jargon and the very detailed description of guns and other weapons can be a bit tedious to read. I recommend you to have faith in Johnson, she knows what she is doing. Later on -in the story and in the series- you will realize the importance of what felt like “info dumps” have in the story.
The end is only the end of a chapter in Ia’s life and in her plans. There is a lot more to come and I’m ready for it all. Luckily for me this series is finished, so I don’t have to wait for future installments, as I have to do with The Terrans.
I recommend A Soldier's Duty to military sci-fi fans who love kick ass heroines.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
Other books in the series
A Soldier's Duty
An Officer’s Duty
Other reviews Goodreads