Feb 23, 12
Read in February, 2012
This is the third book in Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series. This series is like a written word version of the Mass Effect games in which the main character is Starbuck from the Battlestar Galactica reboot. It's chockful of action, romance and bug-like aliens (some good, some bad).
In this book, Sirantha finally fulfills the mission she was given at the beginning of book two - acting as ambassador to Ithiss-Tor. She's not even remotely qualified for the job but she happens to be the only person in the human-dominated Conglomerate who is friendly with an Ithtorian (Mantis-like aliens who humans refer to pejoratively as Bugs or Sliders). The relationship between the Conglomerate and Ithiss-Tor is similar to the relationship between Europe and China in the 19th century. Like the Chinese, the Ithtorians have a closed door policy towards diplomatic relations. They look down on other cultures, viewing humans as barbarians. Unfortunately, war with the Morgut (arachnid-type aliens) is on the horizon and the Ithtorians are the only race who have ever defeated the Morgut in battle. The Conglomerate needs the Ithtorians. And a minority of Ithtorians want the intellectual enrichment and technological advancement that would come from opening up the planet to new ideas and new races. To complicate matters, Sirantha's lover March is suffering from a serious case of PTSD.
I've read five of the projected six books in this series and so far the first and third are by far my favorite. I love how Sirantha's relationships are deepening. Not just her relationship to her love interest, March, but her relationships with her friends, especially the Ithtorian bounty hunter, Vel. This book manages to be action-packed while still developing meaningful relationships and cultures. The exchanges where Sirantha learns to communicate with Vel in his own language are actually kind of poetic and beautiful.