August 20, 2018

Review: 23 Years on Fire by Joel Shepherd


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Don’t mess with Cassandra Kresnov.

Next week, everyone’s favorite techno-android assassin is back in a fast-paced science fiction thriller that’s sure to impress.

In 23 Years On Fire by Joel Shepherd out in early September from Pyr Books, we are hurled along with Cassandra and crew into a military technological juggernaut spanning multiple future human worlds.

Not only must Cassandra’s crew face a new sociological menace as they assault the planet Pyeongwha, but they must also grapple with unraveling galactic political intrigue and a vast underground conspiracy. I love how many of the old world Terran religions are woven into the plot line for an authentic feel.

The book opens with a captivating scene, and throttles on in true military science fiction tradition throughout the book. Cassandra and her crew must dive and carry out a planetary assault… from orbit. This is a Navy SEAL HALO jump (High Altitude, Low Opening) on steroids, a feat that would make Felix Baumgartner green with envy.

23 Years On Fire is the fourth novel from Joel Shepherd in the Cassandra Kresnov universe, the other three being Crossover, Breakaway and Killswitch.

But this latest novel introduces a new dimension of Cassandra, as she displays emotions that even she wasn’t aware that she had, as she protects three young orphans on the world of Pantala. Unlike most “GI’s” who carry out their actions and assaults with nary a thought as to the larger picture, the conspiracy uncovered by Cassandra and team forces them to question the motives of all involved. But can such an ethical dilemma be maintained by a trained Federation killer?

23 Years On Fire harkens back to some of the best military sci-fi in the Heinleindian tradition. Far from being just programmed killers, a military often reflects the mores and values of the society it defends, and often has a broader spectrum of opinions than most people give it credit for.  23 Years On Fire gives that human dimension to its drama, all while delivering the goods in terms of fast-paced sci-fi action.

As a newcomer to the ongoing saga, there’s one thing that I would’ve liked to have seen in 23 Years On Fire… a glossary. True to its military background, the novel machine guns acronyms at you faster than a hurdling reentry op. It part of the culture (and great that the acronym soup of a futuristic military is depicted) but it would be worth having these bound up in a handy glossary for us late comers. That being said, we felt that 23 Years On Fire was highly readable, even starting with the fourth novel.

Can Sandy and crew head off a threat that may wipe out populated human worlds? At what cost? And can she do this while keeping herself both mentally and physically intact? The novel was definitely set up for a book five. Be sure to check out 23 Years On Fire for a futuristic high-speed military sci-fi roller coast ride of a novel!

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