I was unfamiliar with Tammy Salyer and am delighted to add her to my list of favorite science fiction writers. The Omnibus Edition has just been released, but I will review the three novels that it contains separately.
Contract of Defiance
When their smuggling mission goes wrong, Aly Erickson's brother David surrender's himself to the Corps in order to give Aly the opportunity to escape. Despite David's sacrifice, Aly's escape is derailed when she is kidnapped by members of the Sphynx, who are unexpectedly on the scene. Vitruzzi and her crew have one important thing in common with Aly: they both want to rescue someone from the Admin's Fortress, a combination prison and biological warfare research facility that most have only heard rumors about. And the rumors that they have heard are pretty terrifying.
In order to have any chance of saving her brother from becoming one of the human experiments at the Fortress, Aly must join Vitruzzi's crew, but things go a bit haywire when her former boss gets thrown into the mix.
Exciting, fast-paced, and eminently readable, Contract of Defiance features capable and tenacious female characters in Aly and Eleanor Vitruzzi.
Contract of Betrayal continues in the same vein as the previous novel. Characters grow, new characters are introduced, and the fight against the Admin totalitarian government continues.
Aly is now living on Spectra 6 as a part of Vitruzzi's team and the 125 settlers of Agate Beach. She has developed a relationship with Strayhan and enjoys the new network of friends and colleagues, working with them to help make their lives more sustainable despite the Admin's efforts to the contrary.
When a transport contractor arrives on Spectra 6, Aly and David are surprised to see Rob Cross, one of their former Corps mates, who is just as surprised to see them. But the Admin has not forgotten the destruction of the Fortress and have closed off Obal air space to all non-citizens, and Rob warns them of more difficulties to come.
Before the team has much time to digest this information, Admin forces land, and although the basic crew manages to escape, the colony's settlers are captured and transferred to Keum Libre. In order to try to persuade/blackmail the evil T'Kai to return the settlers, her friends make an unexpected alliance that angers Aly, and she is faced with a dilemma.
Contract of War begins differently, and in my opinion, not as favorably. It opens with an entry of Vitruzzi's thoughts. The shift from Aly's point of view at this stage is disorienting, even if brief. The second thing that distracted me is the fact that the narratives shifts from the present to the recent past--the war against the Admin. The inclusion of the war episodes has a purpose, but I was uncomfortable with the shifting back and forth. The flashbacks and one other episode felt like fillers more than plot advancement.
Nevertheless, a suspenseful finale to this series. An exciting adventure on other worlds with plenty of action, sympathetic characters, and some remorseless villains.
The characters were not all equally well-drawn, but I liked that Aly and Vitruzzi were the most important and in such different ways. Both women have courage and determination, but their very different skills and personalities complement each other. Secondary characters receive much less development, but still feel important.
I'm glad I was able to read all three of these together in the Omnibus edition. Even if you are not a fan of science fiction, Salyer's characters and plot will overcome your reservations, and you will be glad you came along for the ride. You can read each one separately or get the Omnibus edition that contains all three.
Science Fiction. Omnibus Edition, Feb. 4, 2015. Print version: 724 pages.