Friday, March 4, 2016

James Review -- The First Salik War: V’Dan

This week I decided to review The First Salik War: V’Dan by Jean Johnson.
The book begins not long after the first book ends, opening with the arrival of the United Terran Planets diplomatic fleet at the home system of the V’Dan Empire. The Terrans have come to aid the V’Dan and their allies in the fight against the Salik, but, despite the best efforts of Grand High Ambassador MacKenzie and Prince Li’eth, relations between the Terrans and the allies of the V’Dan run into a number of issues. Many V’Dan refuse, or at least struggle, to see the Terrans as adults because Terrans lack the markings most V’Dan gain in puberty. One of the worst of the bigots acts to sabotage the first meeting between the K’Katta and the Terrans by exposing the two species to each other before the humans--most of who are instinctively terrified by the appearance of K’Katta if not trained to deal with them--are prepared.
And some of the leaders of the non-V’Dan worlds adopt the belief that Terrans aren’t true adults due to their lack of spots. With the aid of the V’Dan Empress, efforts to halt the anti-Terran bias move forward, but the ambassador and the prince must deal with both their growing feelings for each other and their strengthening psychic bond which both aids and endangers them.
They find themselves aided by the legendary Immortal who transported the ancient V’Dan from Earth to escape disaster and founded the V’Dan Empire but they are soon under siege from both within and without as a team of Terrans and V’Dan, angry at them, plots a fatal strike against them even as a Salik war fleet moves to launch a direct assault on the V’Dan capital.
I give this book 4 out of 10. What’s really bad is that I feel the book is mostly decent, if short on action. While there is a little more combat in this book than in the first one, it is still mostly political and societal issues being dealt with against the backdrop of a war. However, I consider this a textbook example of a lousy ending dragging a good book down. This is one of the worst endings to a book that I’ve ever read. I don’t want to go into detail but it involves a character who is usually reasonable going utterly and (hopefully) temporarily insane for no apparent cause. I just hope the next book digs itself out of the pit the ending left it in.

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