Reserve Major Ariane Kedros (not her real name) has a big secret to hide: she is a war criminal implicated in the destruction of an entire solar system, the event that ended the war between the Terran League and the Consortium Worlds. She has been given a new identity by her superiors, and spends her time between prospecting alien solar systems, and going on shadowy intelligence assignments. Now she has a new assignment: to discover who is assassinating all those implicated in that war crime, before she herself falls victim.
This is a great first novel. It's set in an alternate universe, where Greek civilisation remained dominant, aliens contacted Earth just after its first moon landing to offer interstellar drives, and Earth itself was nearly destroyed when the Yellowstone super-volcano erupted. There is a complex universe, full of complex characters doing the best they can in difficult, dangerous, and morally ambiguous times. Interestingly, none of the factions -- the Terran League, the Consortium Worlds, the peace-enforcing alien Minoans -- are the "good guys". Ariane herself, prey to guilt for her actions, comes across as a strong but flawed character. There is a big coincidence driving the plot: the assassinations are happening just as everyone is interested in Ariane and her prospecting partner for a major discovery they have made. But apart from that, everything flows along plausibly, and in unexpected directions. There is some closure, but clearly room for many more stories here, as Ariane slowly gets to grips with her shattered life.
Ariane Kedros is off with her partner Matt Journey and their possibly-illegal AI Muse back to the strange artefact they discovered at G-145. She doesn't expect it to be a particularly troublesome mission, maybe a bit fraught when they are forced to take Sergeant Joyce with them. But then she discovers her old adversary Terran State Prince Parmet, who had her abducted and tortured, is also at G-145. As may be some of those shadowy alien Minoans. But things really start getting rough when a bunch of crazy isolationist fanatics take over the system, and promise to plunge Ariane right back into her old nightmare.
Again, this relies on a big plot coincidence: that the crazies try to take over just when they do. But apart from that, this is as great a roller-coaster ride through the alternate history future as before. The action opens out, so we get to see more of the generation ships, and of the aliens, and there's lots of running around, shooting, and plotting. Apart from the fanatics, again no-one is entirely bad-guy or good-guy, just people with different agenda. (Well, strictly speaking, I suppose that the fanatics also "just" have a different agenda, but only fanatics would think it a good one.) And again, there's closure to the main plot, but sufficient loose ends to promise an interesting sequel.
Ariane Kedros is not having a good day. Factions are trying to discredit her testimony about what happened in the system take-over attempt. The shadowy Minoans are trying to get her to agree to strange conditions in an exploration contract. And someone is trying to kill her. No rest for the wicked.
The complexity and depth of the machinations increases, as factions splinter into sub-factions, allies become enemies and vice versa, and it all gets very complicated and messy. (And I'm going to have to apologise for the comment about the "big plot coincidence" in the previous review.) Ariane manages to bull through in her usual manner, and resolve some of the issues, partly though her better understanding of how to interact with the Minoans (who remain just as enigmatic and fascinating as before), partly through sheer bloody-mindedness. But that resolution only raises many, many more issues, and the scene is definitely being set for a long complex series. A fun universe to explore.