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Her story began in A Soldier’s Duty and An Officer’s Duty. Now Ia is captain and commander at the helm of Hellfire, where she is finally free to chart the course for the fulfillment of her destiny…

As captain, Ia must now assemble a crew that can rise to the ultimate challenge of saving the galaxy. The hardest part will be getting them to believe her, to trust in her prophecies. If they don’t, her own crew will end up being the biggest obstacle in her race against time.

The Salik are breaking through the Blockade, plunging the known galaxy into war. Ia cannot stop it this time, nor does she want to. This is the terrible price she has seen all along—that some must pay with their lives so that others might live. Now only time itself can prove whether each member of her crew is merely a soldier or truly one of Ia’s Damned.

480 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 30, 2013

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About the author

Jean Johnson

157 books793 followers
Berkley/Jove Authors Bio

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
(1)romance author, science fiction author

Jean Johnson currently lives in the Pacific Northwest, has played in the SCA for 25 years, sings a lot, and argues with her cat about territorial rights to her office chair. She loves hearing from her readers, and has a distinct sense of humor. Right now she's living in a home with zone heating & decent plumbing, but hopes to some day put turrets and ramparts on it so that it looks like a castle.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 119 reviews
Profile Image for Lizzy.
305 reviews166 followers
August 23, 2022
Yes, I don’t need to confess how I enjoy military science-fiction. It’s out there in my reviews for anyone to see. It’s one of my hobbies, a rest from the mainframe of more serious readings.

Jean Johnson's Hellfire is #3 out of the 5-book Theirs Not to Reason Why saga. Being in the middle is a drawback; I know that from experience since I am a middle sister myself. So I know how hard it is to shine out in that spot. All the novelty has gone, and you know the end emotion is way in the future. Pun intended! Nevertheless, Hellfire is still a great book for us military science-fiction aficionados! Ia is back as Ship’s Captain, and there is plenty of action, though a bit too aptly as she applies her 'precognition' to even the tiniest of details. For me, in Hellfire Ia simply lost part of her drive, some flair or her élan if you will. But the last fifty pages do sizzle and lend me hope that the sequel just may bring Ia fully back to the pillar of strength and resolve that I sorely missed. And from already having read it, I can tell you it’s all there. So, don’t give up.

Helfire is a great entertainment a pleasure to read, a 4-star book and outright recommend.
Profile Image for Dreamthiev.
20 reviews2 followers
August 22, 2013
"This is a bloody terrible book," I quipped.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series, but I feel it's been going progressively downhill in the last two books.

For the uninitiated, the series about Ia, the most powerful precognitive ever. After looking forward in time, she decided to become a soldier because she learned that the only way to save the future is to stop and tell every single person she meets, at least three times, how she's fated to save all life in the known galaxy.

It's not just that the books are filled with repetitive phrasing and dialog (Ia keeps having essentially the same conversations over and over with practically everyone), it's also that these repetitions seem to happen instead of actual plot-advancement. While Ia having the exact same conversation for the hundredth time takes up page after page, the story leads up to encounters, battles, etc only to skip over them to another conversation where Ia convinces yet another person she's fated to blah, blah, blah all over again.

Besides that, the level of Mary-Sue-ism is absurd, to the extent it's pretty much killed my suspension of disbelief. All in all, I'm through with this series.
January 5, 2022
3.5-4 stars.

This was my favourite book of the series until the OP MC became even more OP. 😤
So far it's not a disaster but we'll see what the next book entails.

What I liked - there was a few incidents that Ia couldn't perceive or got very wrong which made a nice emotional impact and knocked her a little off her self imposed podium (if only for a very short time). One emotional impact was written well enough that even I got teary 😢 plus Ia lost her shit which was spectacular. There was romance in the air again - usually dreaded on my end but it did have the benefit of making Ia more human and more likeable. 🥳

What I didn't like - I'm sure there is a large amount of things that could be listed here. I won't list them all, mostly cause I've probably forgotten the majority of them, and it would be beyond nit-picking if we're being honest.
One of the biggest issues throughout the series is the occasional pacing and info dump, but I can live with that. I do however really miss the on-land hand to hand combat battles. Nearly everything is space-ship to space-ship now and it just doesn't have the same intensity to it.
Ia obviously being an annoying know it all is still high up on my agitation list.
That's all I can be bothered to write about ATM. (I'm sick - there's little fucks to give)

🤞 fingers crossed 🤞 the next book won't be ruined by Ia being even more OP. It's nice when there's at least a chance the bad guys can defeat the 'hero'.
Profile Image for Lyndi W..
2,045 reviews193 followers
November 5, 2020
I have a hard time reconciling the fact that this series is one of my favorites, but the same author wrote a book that I wanted to beat people with and another book that I couldn't stand past 5%. I don't really get it.
Profile Image for B.T. Jaybush.
Author 15 books3 followers
September 13, 2013
Ia had lost her spark.
Somewhere along the line in book 2 (Officer's Duty) Ia simply lost her drive, lost her flair, her elan. No, wait, I know exactly when it happened: when she let herself be bullied by her supposed friend and counselor Christine Benjamin into shacking up for a weekend with her hormonally resonant roommate, Meyun Harper.
Now, I'm no prude; I appreciate sex as much as the next meioa, in or out of fiction. But! The effect of the coersion (though possibly not the sex itself) was devastating to Ia, sending her careening off the rails...
...until well into book 3 (Hellfire). There, in one particular twenty-minute (and subsequent hour) of respite from her life-long mission she CHOOSES to be with Harper. Then as if my magic - the magic of hormones, anyway - the Ia we had grown to love in Soldier's Duty and the first ten chapters of Officers Duty came back.
I can only mourn that this doesn't happen until page 421 of 473. But the last fifty pages do sizzle, and lend me hope that book 4, when it arrives, just may bring Ia fully back to the pillar of strength and resolve that I sorely missed.
Oh, as for the story of Hellfire - it's fine. Plenty of action, though a bit too pat as Ia applies her precognition to even the tiniest of details. Certainly a pleasure to read, and even recommend.
But I regret not being able to give it that elusive 5th review star. Ia is more that the protagonist of this series, she is the meioa-e that we all must love, unconditionally, for the story to work - and you just can't feel the love when the character herself isn't sure.
So, Ms. Johnson, kudos for creating a character I can enjoy, even adore on many levels...but take care. Allowing her to be side-tracked, even by her (half) humanity, runs the terrible risk of making her less than she can, and MUST, be.
Profile Image for Marlene.
2,947 reviews205 followers
September 15, 2013
Originally published at Reading Reality

Damn if this isn’t a middle book. It’s a damned good middle book, but it is definitely a middle book, suffering from all of the attendant problems of a member of that dreaded breed. You need to have read the previous books in the Theirs Not to Reason Why series A Soldier's Duty and An Officer's Duty) and you need to wait impatiently for the next and hopefully finally book in the series, Damnation, to be published, probably next summer.

It’s going to be a hellishly long wait.

Ia is finally the Captain of her own ship, the Terran United Peacekeepers Space Force (TUPSF) Hellfire. Her crew will come to be infamously known as Ia’s Damned. She knows exactly when and in what circumstances they will acquire that nickname because Ia is a massive precognitive. Her coming has been foretold by one interplanetary religion as The Prophet of a Thousand Years. Ia has only one purpose in her life; to save the existence of all sentient races from an invasion that will wipe them from the galaxy, 300 years in the future.

She walks the timeplains, always seeking the one and only one choice that has a dim chance of success. For her people. For all “people”.

By the point where she takes over the Captaincy of the Hellfire, she has revealed herself to her superior officers in the TUPSF and to her crew. Forces have aligned themselves against her; not because they oppose her ultimate purpose, but because they are playing a game, and can’t believe that Ia is playing for such high stakes that their game will be rendered meaningless.

Hellfire is a book about the hurry up and wait involved in waging a long, slow war...because there is an enemy who comes before the ultimate enemy, and Ia has to defeat them first, so that the TUPSF still has something left when the dark days come.

It turns out that even a massive precog cannot account for all the possible chances.

Escape Rating A-: Notice that in the “format read” section above I have both an ebook copy that I purchased and I bought a paperback at WorldCon just so I could get the author to sign it. This probably gives a hint on my thoughts about the series as a whole.

Ia is a fascinating character. She knows everything, and yet, sometimes she still can’t control everything, which becomes the central tension in this story. She may see all events, but she can still be tripped up by her physical limitations. She can only be in one place at one time.

The story drags on in the middle by the need to describe the military logistics of the “hurry up and wait” wear and tear of a long campaign. It’s a necessary part of the story but it just wasn’t as interesting to this reader as focusing on the human (or Gatsugi, or any other sentient) aspects of the story.

The parts that sing for me were the times when the focus closes in on specific actions. The early scene where Ia returns to her homeworld of Sanctuary and gets to seriously tweak the nose of the religious zealot bureaucracy was much too much fun.

Near the end, there is a scene that should bring tears to any sentient. The aftermath of the scene explains much about the price that Ia pays for her knowledge and power. It’s about page 339 in either the paperback or ebook.

Ia’s story is definitely being sent into the light. Read it and you’ll be enthralled into understanding.
Profile Image for keikii Eats Books.
1,073 reviews53 followers
January 9, 2020
To read more reviews in this series and others, check out keikii eats books!

98 points, 5 STARS!
Alert: Complete and unabashed gushing ahead

Now at the helm of Hellfire, Ia and Prophet of a Thousand Years now has the authority from the Terran Government to act as she must. She has to prove herself, though, as her carte blanche runs out in less time than you would think. Ia can't stop the coming war, but she can act in the good of everyone, even if the Terran Government doesn't see how two events might be connected. 

My standard warning for this series: Don't read this review if you haven't read read prior books in this series and want to. I cannot guarantee no spoilers for previous books in the series, and I don't want you to spoil yourself.

This is the fourth time I have read this! Why do I still cry?!?!

Hellfire is the start of Ia being Ia. This is who Ia was always going to be, who she is meant to be: the one in charge, the one calling the shots, and the one everyone looks towards for the answers. Ia's secret has been outed at the correct time and with it people are starting to learn that she knows more than they could have possibly expected. They still have to learn to trust in her and her abilities, though. Ia takes everything she has learned in her viewings of time and over her career in the military and makes things happen. Watching Ia work without being constrained is an absolute delight.

It isn't always an easy process for Ia in Hellfire, though. Ia struggles. She cannot do everything on her own. She messes up occasionally (she is only human, afterall). She has to win over her crew and her commanders, she has to win over the other alien races. She has to make a name for herself, and not just Bloody Mary. She has to become the Prophet of a Thousand Years that she is claiming to be.

I just love seeing the people Ia surrounds herself with. I love learning about them and watching them grow into the people Ia knows they can be, the ones she has seen them become in the timestreams. We only really see a handful of them - the story is much more about the events than the people. It is a shame that we see so few of them, really. She has such a large crew to work with, afterall. Yet, it works. The story wasn't set up with the people in mind, the story was to show the events that are happening that are going to save the future. Too many more people and the story would become overwhelming and you just wouldn't get the same effect.

I love all the foreshadowing for what is to come. The first time I read this, I couldn't stop for anything at all because I just had to know. I had to, every atom in my being needed to know what was going to happen. Now, on my fourth go around, I know what is going to happen, and I still don't want to stop reading because I know what is going to happen. I feel like Ia does, almost, with her precognition. I know what is going to happen and I just need it all to click into place. And I also shy away from certain events I dread that are coming. This isn't an easy ride, even for a prophet.

The next book beckons. Ia'nn Suddha. I must listen to my prophet.
Profile Image for Aurian Booklover.
588 reviews33 followers
August 23, 2013
I have been waiting for this third book in the series a whole year, but it was well worth the wait. And waiting for the fourth book will take another year, and that is so killing me! Beware, gushing review follows!

As Captain of her own ship, and with the Admiral-General of the Terran Forces behind her, Ia is having carte blanche in where to use her ship in fighting and ultimately destroying the Salik. As the most powerful precog ever born, Ia can see the timelines of everything than can possible happen, and what she needs to do to ensure the best possible outcome, to save the most lives. This is not easy, as sometimes she has to sacrifice people in order to save others. She knows everyone who dies, all their names, and how they die. In order to stay sane to carry this burden, she needs to stay in action, see the results what happens when she saves this colony instead of that spacestation, check the timelines time and again.

She needs the trust of her crew to be able to do the most good, they need to have confidence in her abilities to guide them, and to follow her orders without hesitation. She knows the powers that be have planted some spies in her crew, but she knows who they are, and how to circumvent them if necessary. But she would prefer to sway them to support her.

The Hellfire is the fastest and most deadly ship out there, and her secrets have to be kept a secret. There can be no chance of it falling into enemy hands. The canon that is the core of her ship, is capable of such destruction, when it misses its target, its fire will be deadly for months. This makes Ia the only person capable of shooting it, as she can see where her enemy will be in the next ten seconds.

She has her friend and chaplain Benny with her, and some of her friends she trained in the academy, and she needs Meyun Harper in engineering, even though it will be very hard to keep her distance from him. There can be no relationship between them whatsoever, except that of good friends. She also needs him to make a weapon that will make her a full blood Feyori when the time is right, and for that, they will need to visit the Timesafe on Earth, where the Immortal stores her knowledge of the ages. Ia will need more technology than is available at the moment to be able to win the war against the Salik, and to prepare the galaxy for the next war.

In the previous book she made an enemy out of one of the Feyori, and he is actively working against her now, not having a clue what her final goal is: to safe the galaxy from being destroyed 300 years from now. And this means, she needs a Feyori ally herself, something she hoped she did not have to do for a while yet.

Ia also needs to be formally acknowledged as the Prophet of a Thousand Years by the V’Dan, and to earn their trust and loyalty.

I loved the book very much, it is chock full of action and fighting. Ia keeps helping her home planet and the rebels on it and I love to read how she thwarts the church officials. Ia is a great captain, a good leader even though she knows how to act to get the most result. Still, Harper is a mist for her, and she cannot predict him or the things around him, and it keeps her on her toes. Ia hurts for everyone she loses, for every battle she cannot fight, every hard choice she has to make. And I so admire her strength and her loyalty.
Yes, the book had me in tears a few times, and laughing at other times. I was totally immersed in the story while reading. Jean Johnson’s writing style is perfectly matched to my reading tastes.

The ending blew me away, and I hate to have to wait a whole year for the next book. Still, if you have read my interview with Jean Johnson, she is planning plenty more books and stories to keep me a happy reader in the coming years.

11 stars.

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

Profile Image for E..
1,905 reviews19 followers
October 18, 2013

“Hellfire” by Jean Johnson is part of the enthralling ‘Theirs Not to Reason Why’ science fiction series. Ia is a massive precognitive who is also known as the Prophet to some of the Feyori and has honed many of her skills, including electrokinesis and her ability to use what she calls the timeplains. She has become captain of the ship known as Hellfire which is armed with the Godstrike cannon and staffed it with a handpicked crew who are known as Ia’s Damned and who become her greatest asset in the war against the Salik. Ia constantly navigates the narrow path that she sees as the only way to save the most beings in the future but she is sorely tested in her convictions, and challenged by her need to deal with the ‘Meddlers’, the Feyori who object to her half-blood connection to them. The struggle to constantly juggle a myriad of potentially fateful choices exert a horrendous pressure upon the driven female but she never loses sight of her goal, no matter how many obstacles she has to destroy, avoid or restructure. She just has to make sure she has the right beings around her at the right time. Simple for a precognitive, right? Definitely not.

This exciting addition to a fantastic space opera series continues to provide a mesmerizing multi-layered read. It is exhausting to think of all of the constant consultations performed by the heroine to make sure that events are unfolding as they should and the stark example of the ‘butterfly effect’ made a significant impression, not only because it showed that Ia is capable of great emotion but it also demonstrated her dedication to her cause and willingness to put her body on the line for her beliefs. I was thrilled to see the reappearance of those important to Ia and enjoyed watching her crew (including the requisite spies) being won over to the cause. There are plenty of exciting descriptions of military engagements for those who are fond of such things but there is a beautifully emotional depiction of the price required to ensure that the final goal is feasible, no matter who it harms or how much regret is engendered. The understated humor and veiled insults that Ia wields in addition to her firm conveyance of the logic behind her actions is contrasted with the reactions evoked in those she interacts with, whether alien or human, and the exquisite way she tailors her actions to the audience. I think that it would be easy to fall into the spell woven by this wonderfully talented author if one hasn’t read the rest of the series but this story is best savored by starting at the beginning with “A Soldier’s Duty”. That way you can fall under the spell and join me as I cheer for Ia’s accomplishments and mourn for her losses and anxiously await the next installment of her adventures.

© Night Owl Reviews

I received a copy of this title in return for an honest review.
Profile Image for Strix.
249 reviews16 followers
June 19, 2019
Go back and read the series in order! Shoo!

You made it this far? Great! Welcome to the best book in the series: the training montages are over and it's 100% Ia being a starship captain and having fun sci-fi adventures as she races around trying to deal with this war with the Saliks.

I didn't mention them in the first books, did I? Well, they weren't really important except as generic evil space aliens. In this book, they ramp things up and war breaks out. If Ia can't help humanity and the rest of the good aliens survive them, they won't be around to survive the end of the universe happening centuries later.

Unfortunately mystery man and therapist are back in Ia's crew, along with other characters, but fortunately most of the book is fixated on the plot and there's not much of the weak character segments. It's just Ia running around being a badass and genuinely fun space pulp stuff.

Except here's where we get to see the seeds of something very bad being planted: Ia specifically dehumanizes her crew so they can raid the creches and schools of the evil aliens. Ia specifically goes out of her way to make sure no one sees the Salik as sentient beings, worthy of life despite their evil acts.

No one calls her on the morality of this. There's like one scene about it and then it's a given that the Salik deserve to be murdered to the last of them.

This... will be brought up later on. Here it's just a supremely jarring note in otherwise fun space adventure series. Though I suppose it goes well with the extremely pro-military attitude literally everyone has. The space military is the best, it can do no wrong, amen.

But hey, you're reading a military sci-fi series with me. You've either made peace with how, uh, upsetting the politics in military sci-fi can get, or you've fully bought into how the military is the best, ooh-rah. You can handle this.

Profile Image for Stephen Topp.
361 reviews6 followers
November 14, 2022
I'm out.

I almost broke early on, where I zoned out while Ia's new ship (the titular Hellfire) was described in exacting technical and military detail. Was any of it important to the story? No. Just trying to be merciful and weed out readers early on, I'm thinking.

Later - wait. I guess the rest of this has some spoilers. So be warned. I'm going to give away major plot points. But you shouldn't care, because you shouldn't bother to read this book.

Ok. Left if you want to leave?

I'll continue.

Later, Ia reveals that she needs to make pre-emptive strikes against Salik creches. So, basically, go out and murder as many of the enemy's children as possible before they grow up to become soldiers. There's a "rousing speech" in which she tells everybody that they need to go kill a bunch of kids. Everybody agrees that it's the right thing. And it's okay, because it's technically legal, and the kids will grow up to be shits.

Now, this COULD turn into an interesting moral and ethical twist in the series. Ia is trying to win a war against the Salik. Which they are going to start. And which will end in the Salik being extinct. Because she knows it's coming she's making a pre-emptive strike ... on a non-military target ... aiming at children.

So Ia starts a war, which will lead in her enemy's extinction. She's beginning a genocide. And she starts it by killing as many enemy children as possible. Later, it's acknowledged that the first Salik attacks on the Alliance were a response to this. But it's always the Salik who are said to be precipitating the war.

This is completely washed over. She needs to defend her superpower actions in ethics reviews. These are neatly avoided because she has "reported everything important to her superiors". Ia begins a genocide on the say-so of her powers, without any ethical review whatsoever.

Just glossed over.

Could have been a good book. Instead ... yay! Let's go murder children!

Question: is this necessary to the plot of the book?

No! She says "let's go murder some children", nobody objects, and it's never mentioned again.

I really hope this becomes important in Book 4, but I'll never find out. Because now this series is saying that full-scale genocide including the murder of children is okay if it supports legitimate military aims, which is WAY FAR BEYOND the type of pro-military messages that cause me to dislike this type of Science Fiction in the first place.

(Throwing in an edit here: part of the rah-rah speech to her crew to get them to murder kids is basically the de-humanising of the alien children. Which ... sure, they're not human. But a few years after this book was written the US government started separating children from their parents and putting them in cages, while the President was saying de-humanising things about them all being murderers and rapists. It was hard not to draw parallels.

Science Fiction is great because it does predict the way things might go, and help us confront those ideas. It was angering to see such an accurate - and terrible - prediction go un-confronted. Particularly when it has been established that Ia's use of her powers requires regular and detailed ethical review. I'm not sure I've ever felt so let down by a book.)

So. There's the point at which I decided that this was the last book in the series I was reading.

But it got worse.

Another reason why this book - and book 2, for that matter - is boring is because Ia is pre-cognitive. She knows everything that's going to happen, how she should deal with it, and is just there - saying the right thing, doing the right thing, prepared for the surprising as if it were inevitable.

That's her character.

Very interesting in the first book, but it kind of removes any suspense.

So late in the book, when a situation happens that she DIDN'T SEE COMING, and it RESULTS IN DISASTER, we get both dissonance and opportunity.

Dissonance, because the book has already on multiple occasions talked about how Ia has learned that ignoring UNLIKELY events is dangerous, because sometimes the low-probability futures do occur. So when an outcome is critical, she now assumes that these unlikely outcomes are entirely possible and prepares accordingly.

But in this situation (which seems too crucial to the plot to reveal in this review, even though I did give a spoiler warning), where the negative impact is THE COMPLETE DEATH AND DESTRUCTION OF EVERYBODY IN THE GALAXY, she fails to show any pre-cognition, foresight, or care whatsoever.

In essence, the big dramatic moment at the centre of the book simply shouldn't have happened. It is inconsistent with every bit of storytelling around it, and is completely uncharacteristic of the protagonist.

And there's no explanation of it.

And that pissed me off something wicked. The first two volumes were, for their flaws, entertainingly written. As far as I can tell, this was just done because the author gets off on a good caning, and really needed to put one into the book.

Anyways. It happened, and again I think: "what a marvellous opportunity".

Our Ia, you see, has never encountered a situation she doesn't know the way out of. She has seen every situation she might encounter, the various ways she might deal with it, and how each of those turn out - both for her personally and the universe at large. She has NEVER been forced to deal with a situation where she didn't know going in the approach that would yield the best outcome.

And here she is. Fuck that the fact that she was put here was a piece of shit storytelling that ran against the entire narrative of nearly three entire books - our hero is, for the first time, put into a crisis of confidence. Stuck into a situation she didn't foresee. In a position where her powers can't guide her out of it.

What does she do? How does she react?

I'll tell you how she reacts:

She mopes for three paragraphs or so, solves the problem in paragraph four, and goes on her merry way.


And then Ia gets more superpowers because she didn't have enough of them.

The end.

Maybe everything I found terrible is addressed in later books. I certainly hope so. But at this point, I'd feel guilty spending money on more volumes of this series.
Profile Image for Rich.
124 reviews11 followers
July 30, 2013
My one note I wrote to myself while reading this book was "same old same old." To a great degree, that's what you're going to find in this third number in the series.

I love the idea behind the books, but I'm not in love with Ia. Her character growth has taken her from interesting to dull to annoying. Even while she speaks about the burden of knowing the names and fates of every person in the universe she can't save, she comes across as almost mechanical and emotionless. The only time she seems to show real emotion is when her plans almost come crashing down around her ears.

There were only two real moments that saved the book from being a complete retread of the others, and one of them was the ending. I hope Ia's future is less predictable and more random. What the books are missing is mystery. I worry that by giving us so much foresight concerning Ia's goals, the author has dimished our opportunity to be surprised.
Profile Image for Frances.
179 reviews7 followers
September 10, 2013
I only have one complaint, then I will get to how awesome it was. This is mostly a complaint as to the printing, not the the writing, too. As the book was published as a paperback (and at 471 pages, no less), the copy my library received was cut in such a way that I had to bend the book in a way that adds stress to the spine just so I could read the words along the inner creases. In short, this book will not get as many reads before it gets withdrawn and recycled from my library and (hopefully) a new book will be purchased. This is great for the author, but not so much for the library.

That being said, I love this story. I wish the series was in audiobook, because I think that would be really awesome (even more awesome would be if it were done as some of them, with sound effects). I was heartbroken to get to the end of this book because it is where MANY authors would have left it. I am so very, very happy to see another in the lineup and know that is not the case!
Profile Image for DemetraP.
4,083 reviews
July 21, 2015
Ia is finally getting her higher ups in the military to respect her talents for seeing the future. We learn some more about how she's trying to save humanity 300 years in the future.

I really like reading about strong female characters who you can relate to. She makes mistakes and does her best to save everybody, but sometimes you can't save everyone.

There are 5 books in this series and the series is complete. The author is going back in time and writing books about the First Salik War.

If you want a good series to binge read, it's complete, no waiting, read this book.
Profile Image for Windypicnic.
67 reviews20 followers
August 25, 2013
I don't know why I keep reading these books. The same things bug me /every single installment/. More of the same here in Hellfire -- promisingly intense scenario gets dragged down to mediocrity by Ia and her ability. There's just no tension when you know essentially everything that's meant to happen. And yet here I am with three of these books on my shelves. Idk, man.

Full review to come.
6 reviews1 follower
August 5, 2013
I loved this book!!! I have also loved the 2 previous books. After reading A Soldier's Duty two years ago, I eagerly waited for the second book---it did not disappoint. Again I waited a year for the third book---and again I loved it. However, it is important to read them in order. I am eagerly waiting for the continuation of the story.
Profile Image for Lianne Pheno.
1,217 reviews70 followers
December 22, 2017

Ce tome était vraiment intéressant mais il est à la croisée de l'histoire, la fin d'une époque et tout juste le commencement d'une nouvelle.

Ia est finalement le capitaine de son propre vaisseau le TUPSF (Terran United Peacekeepers Space Force) Hellfire. Ia est une precog, elle est capable de voyager dans ce qu'elle appelle le "timeplan" ou elle peut voir avec précision toutes les probabilités de vie de chaque personne qui existe et qui existera. Elle a ainsi prédit une invasion massive qui arrivera environ 200 ans dans le futur et parmi toutes les voies possible, une seule et unique lui permettra de sauver l'espèce humaine. Depuis elle a mit en place son plan et elle s'y tiens.

Mais évidemment ça n'est pas facile quand on fait parti d'une force armée, de devoir justifier à chaque fois toute ses actions sans trop en dévoiler de peur que certaines personnes modifient leur comportement en sachant ce qu'il va arriver. Heureusement depuis qu'elle c'est dévoilée comme étant "The Prophet of a Thousand Years" qui est une des composante de la religion V'Dan (qui sont les humains avec des pouvoirs), ils ont décidé de lui faire plus ou moins confiance en lui donnant une carte blanche lui permettant d'agir plus ou moins à sa guise du moment qu'elle assure la victoire des humains dans la prochaine guerre qui se précise contre les Salik.

Les Salik sont des prédateurs marins, ils vivent avec la loi du plus fort et pour eux la vie n'a aucune valeur sentimentale. Ils sont arrivés dans la partie humaine de la galaxie il y a environ 200 ans, il se trouve qu'ils fuient justement la menace qui va détruire les humains et qui a détruit leur propre galaxie. Depuis ils veulent vraiment s'installer sur place et devenir l'espèce dominante, reprendre leur place en gros.

Ils ont été repoussé une première fois lors de leur arrivée et depuis un cessé le feu plus ou moins permanent a été mis en place. Mais en vrai pour eux la guerre ne c'est jamais terminée vu qu'ils n'ont pas réussi leur coup. Et depuis, alors que les humains se pensaient en paix, ils ont rebâti leur force, et l'ont rendu bien plus massive qu'avant.
Lorsque ce tome débute la guerre n'est pas encore installée mais justement les actions du Hellfire vont la dévoiler aux yeux des humains, montrant que les Salik ont envahi la zone tampon et s'en servent pour stocker des armes et des "nurseries" de futurs soldats produits à la chaine (ils naissent dans des œufs).

Nous sommes ici dans de la SF militaire, pleine de codes et de règles et ou Ia utilise vraiment son vaisseau et son équipage comme arme. Elle les a choisi pour ça, des personnes n'ayant aucun impact sur le futur, donc des pions parfait et sacrifiable si il le faut (elle n'hésitera pas), tout en étant capable de suivre les ordre et d'être bon dans leur domaine respectif.
Le protocole militaire est très présent tout au long du tome, et très contraignant aussi, du coup on passe régulièrement par des meetings et autres rapports.

En fait pourquoi je dis que ce tome est un tome intermédiaire? Parce qu'il n'y a pas vraiment d'histoire pour le personnage d'Ia et de son équipage ici mais plus une évolution générale de la situation du monde alors que la guerre se met progressivement en place. Du coup il se présente plus comme une suite d'actions qui se lit comme une succession de nouvelles les unes à la suite des autres. Toutes ayant une objectif différent et nous expliquant une partie des actions du Hellfire et en quoi elles seront importantes pour la suite. On est totalement dans une ambiance qui alterne les longues attentes pour agir au bon moment suivi d'une successions d'actions très précises qui doivent être exécutées parfaitement pour ne pas tout gâcher ...

Du coup c'est très éparpillé comme récit même si ça reste bien sur totalement fascinant je trouve.
En plus il faut se rendre compte que je n'ai raconté ici qu'une partie de la situation initiale qui est en fait plus complexe que ça au niveau des vrai plans d'Ia. Du coup la quantité d'informations est assez monumentale pour une série du genre.

Il y a tout de même une histoire centrale bien sur qui revient de temps en temps, et qui concerne un autre point du récit que je ne vous dévoilerai pas pour ne pas tout spoiler non plus. D'ailleurs vu comme ce termine ce tome, on sent que le prochain sera centré dessus et qu'on reprendra donc un type de récit plus normal et moins coupé comme dans les premiers tomes de la série.

On pourrait croire que c'est trop facile pour Ia vu qu'elle sait tout à l'avance mais en fait non pas du tout, elle surf avec la limite à chaque fois. Il lui faut par exemple maintenir en vie une personne bien précise lors d'une bataille spatiale chaotique ou infiltrer discrètement une zone pour poser des camera lors d'une mission plus diplomatique. Elle prend des décisions difficiles en permanence comme par exemple ne pas aller sauver la famille d'un de ses amis parce qu'on a plus besoin d'elle ailleurs au même moment.
En gros tout ce qu'elle fait est basé sur des minutieux calculs de rentabilités sur le nombre de personnes qu'elle sauvera ou pas et l'importance des personnes en question sur le futur, suivant l'action qu'elle choisi de faire.

Du coup c'est vrai que des fois elle parait limite inhumaine. Son vaisseau participe au grand jeu de sa vie, et son objectif est bien plus important que sa vie ou celle de son équipage, voir de celles de planètes entière.

Je dois dire que ce genre d'histoire marche vraiment bien chez moi. Il y a ce "facteur Waou" que je retrouve par exemple dans les Craft Sequence, ce coté émerveillement qui est très fort quand on commence à se faire une vrai idée de l'histoire générale et de sa complexité.

Encore une fois j'ai donc vraiment bien apprécié ma lecture. Après c'est vrai que si ce tome met en place la suite il était un peu plus long à lire du fait de sa forme.

J'ai conscience que ce genre de récit n'est pas pour tout le monde mais pour moi ça fonctionne très bien, je suis prise du début à la fin et j'ai du mal à m'y remettre une fois fini, je suis limite essoufflée tellement j'ai retenu mon souffle.

Profile Image for Scott.
154 reviews10 followers
August 18, 2019
And this is where the grind is starting with the series. While there are some really good moments, they are countered with far more grinding out what Ia does, and repeats over and over and over.

I’m continuing forward because I want to see if Johnson weaves it together, but I’m no longer as thrilled with it as I was - the protagonist is too powerful, too amazing, and barring one incident there’s no challenge.

Which, as I think about in contrast to Nightside and Verus (as referenced in my first review) Ia can brute force her way through it all, she doesn’t have to be creative. Back before her reveal, she had to be creative and that was fun. This? This is just coloring by numbers as she’s becomes super powered.
Profile Image for Abhinav.
Author 6 books69 followers
October 20, 2013
You can read the full review over at The Founding Fields:


Shadowhawk takes a look at the third Theirs Not To Reason Why military science fiction series from Jean Johnson.

“With all the setup over, we now move into the opening skirmishes of the new Salik War, and Ia returns with full force at the helm of a story that is both highly entertaining and extremely involving in equal measure.” ~Shadowhawk, The Founding Fields

In the previous two books in the series, A Soldier’s Duty (review) and An Officer’s Duty (review), there’s been a lot of heavy build-up to the new Salik War. We’ve seen how Iantha Quentin-Jones joined the Terran United Planets armed forces and how she set about creating a legend of her actions and her name, such that it would carry down through the ages to the moments that mattered most. A full-scale intergalactic invasion by a ravenous species the likes of which have never been seen before.

Iantha, or Ia as she chooses to call herself from the moment that she joins the armed forces, has seen it all in precognitive visions and she’s taken up the responsibility to guide the galaxy to a point where it can have the barest chance of resisting the invaders, perhaps even win through. Employing all her psychic skills to full effect, but working under the letter of intergalactic and army law for the most part, she has made some great inroads.And now she is finally reached a fulcrum moment, where she actively participates in the new Salik War where her superiors are fully cognizant of her special abilities and (in the broadest sense) know what she is doing.

By the time Hellfire starts, Ia’s plans are well on their way and we finally get to a point where we can truly see some big space battles, of the kind that Star Trek and Star Wars and other such large-scale space opera franchises are known for. We don’t see many of them, but we do see two fairly important ones, and those were well the price of admission, so to speak.

As always, I loved Jean’s characterisation of Ia and her supporting cast. This is Ia’s third outing and by now I’m very well familiar with her as a character, which helped put a lot of her actions into the proper context for me. If you haven’t read any of the previous books, then you are most likely going to be lost here since you are going to be missing out on a lot of character development that has already happened and a lot of Ia’s decisions, or the references to events in the previous books will not make as much sense as they would otherwise. I’ve remarked before that in Ia Jean has created a really wonderful character, a protagonist with agency who always deals on her own terms and is able to twist her way out difficult situations when called for. Sure, she has to finagle her way past a ton of obstacles in the process, but then that’s the charm. Everything in the novel is not just about the characters themselves, or the situations or what have you, its about the execution.

And Jean definitely excels at that.

There is one particular moment, during the second major space battle in the novel, where all of Ia’s careful planning is burned up in engine exhaust because of the carelessness of a crew member. Suddenly, its like dominoes are falling. That moment gives the most in-depth emotional look into Ia as a character. Till now, we’ve always seen her at her best, at her most confident, even arrogant. And now she learns some true humility. Through this entire scene, Jean also shows something that we’ve only heard Ia speak of before in a passing manner: that there is always a chance that something wrong will happen, no matter how miniscule. There’s only so much that Ia can do, she can inspire, she can lead, she can guide, but ultimately the individuals themselves have to do something too, and she can’t always… control that properly. And that’s what happens here, ruining almost all her work that she’s done ever since she first had her visions as a teenager.

Its a crystallizing moment in her character development, and we see just how she rises to the incredible challenge and beats it, saving herself and the galaxy by the skin of its teeth. Everything that she has done has been for a purpose and every individual she commands aboard the Hellfire is vital to her plans. And yet, one small mistake, one small carelessness can bring everything crashing down. To use a flowery, descriptive metaphor, Ia beats this challenge as if she is a phoenix rising from the ashes. Given the consequences, it is an apt metaphor I believe.

One thing that made this novel stand out more than the other two novels was Ia’s interactions with everyone around her. On one level, we have her interactions with her the men and women under her command, the crew of the Hellfire, the titular ship that is Ia’s chosen weapon and steed during the Salik War. We see a lot of how she interacts with everyone as both a Captain and as a fellow soldier and as a human being. And this ties into the aforementioned event which throws all her plans into ruination. A very sobering moment in the entire novel. If you remember the scene from the first (and only good one) Starship Troopers movie where during a live-fire exercise Rico’s decisions lead to the death of a fellow infantryman, and his punishment that follows, you’ll have some idea of what Ia has to go through to ensure the loyalty and respect of her crewmates.
568 reviews10 followers
July 14, 2017
A real space soap opera! Starship captain Ia is a precognitive (she can see into the future) trying to save humanity. The Salik, an alien force whose sole purpose is to eat sentient beings, are massing for an attack that will take out the Terran colonies and most, if not all, of their allies. How Ia goes about dealing with this threat will require a lot of cunning and precision maneuvering by her hand picked crew. Some action, but more psychological preparation keeps this one going.
Profile Image for Marwa Bellakhal.
20 reviews19 followers
May 14, 2019
This series started out really good , but i honestly can't bring myself to finish this book .
There's too much descriptive passes , too much information being dumped on the reader at all times-information that i personally don't think i need to know - that you lose sight of the actual plotline . I DNFed thos book at about 60 per cent , the plot of what I read of it was good , by I think the author could use a good editor , 480 pages is too much for this book .
Profile Image for Alastair McDermott.
Author 4 books10 followers
March 29, 2019
Finished "Theirs Not to Reason Why" series by Jean Johnson. I really liked this series, it's an entertaining mil sf space opera type. There are a couple of repetitive sections in the last two books, but the only major negative for me was how the author chose to end it. But that shouldn't take from the rest of the series. I'd give it a solid 3.5 stars, would be a 4 for me if the ending was better handled. I'll happily read more from the same author.
Profile Image for Marco.
27 reviews
June 27, 2017
These books aren't so much about the characters but more about how can humanities annihilation be avoided by a precognitive who can see thousands of years in the future.
The main character is still all powerful and it gets a bit boring. Big battles and fights are skimmed over to make more storyline progression. Not sure if I like that.
Profile Image for Margaret.
586 reviews12 followers
February 24, 2018
Ia joins the Special Forces in book 3 Hellfire. Plus, she is given her own custom ship and allowed to handpick its crew.
To top it off, she gets carte blanche from the top military brass.

Even so, she is just one woman and she has the future of the galaxy to save.

Much action ensues.

Highly recommended military time travel space opera series!
133 reviews2 followers
April 22, 2023
Better than book one or two

Looking forward to number four. This one is better because it didn't take so much time detailing basic training or the academy. The plot moved right along. Of course, having experienced both basic and officer candidate school I relived and delighted in the author's telling of both again.
Profile Image for Richard.
226 reviews
May 12, 2017
The romantic parts annoys me a lot and Ia is amazingly prone to speechifying. I'm going down a star for this one because I think it doesn't really go very far with any plotline. I think the precog premise is starting to fall apart.
Profile Image for Unwisely.
1,418 reviews14 followers
July 27, 2017
I gotta be honest. I read the last three books in this series within about a week of each other and can't remember which one was which. But I couldn't stop reading them. The premise got less grating.

I am not sure if I can recommend this series, but I really liked it.
Profile Image for W.
67 reviews2 followers
January 11, 2018
The first book of this series is still my favorite of the first three so far. How do you make a story about a massively powerful precognitive being compelling? I thought maybe the tales would become repetitive, and while the first part of this book started slow, it certainly ended with a bang.
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