Kris Longknife is back in the good graces of the brass—and to demonstrate that, they've promoted her to Admiral. Now her mission is to find the home base of the space pirates who are plaguing the fringes of the galaxy.
But no mission is ever simple when your name is Longknife. And this time the complications range from the military to the personal, as Kris finds herself—reluctantly—having to make some command decisions about her future...
Defender by Mike Shepherd is, for anybody looking to pick up the series, the eleventh book centering on Kris Longknife. That means new readers need to start at the beginning, because most of what happens in this book won’t have any emotional or storytelling payoff otherwise.
The short version is that Kris Longknife has gotten back in the good graces of the higher ups, and in the course of the first few chapters, the brass even promote her to Admiral. With renewed confidence in her abilities, she has been tasked with finding the hideout of the space pirates who are continuing to plague the edges of the galaxy. But, since this is a mission which includes Kris Longknife, there are complications, and she has to handle both military and personal issues, which naturally prevents this from being a simple matter of finding and capturing a bunch of pirates.
For any longtime readers of the series, there is a good bit of time spent in the beginning focusing on the relationship between Kris and Jack, but once that’s been covered, the story begins to pick up.
The solution to many of the problems of having a planet in a pre-industrial state, and then accelerating its growth to advancements in weaponry, factories, cities, and mining seems to be the use of smart metal, by default, which is awfully convenient.
Setting that issue aside, there are plenty of space battles for anyone who felt the other books were lacking in them, and more importantly, Kris is the one giving the orders this time. That means far more responsibility falls on her shoulders, and some of it is handled with more ease than other things.
The author’s comfort with the characters, and their evolution are evident, and will make anybody who’s stuck with the series up until now feel that character evolution, particularly that of Kris, has been well-earned. As is the case with a series, especially one that has lasted for so many books, numerous things are explained and some plot threads are tied up by the end of the book, while others are left hanging until the next book.