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While deciphering an evil overlord’s furtive scheme, a newly promoted lieutenant of a mercenary group uncovers secrets from his past in this sci-fi sequel.

Victoria Middleton, overlord of the Cerberus, the most powerful of the distant-future world’s ruling Corporations, sold 19-year-old Janus to Mercenary Legion, ODIN. When Janus was forced to vacate Cerberus’ slums, he had to leave behind his adoptive mother, Clara. He excels as an Adept (mercenary) cadet and earns the rank of lieutenant. But his first mission as a team leader involves the Corporation where he spent his childhood. ODIN has had eyes on a Cerberus facility at the mountain range Lightemann’s Ridge. Certain that the heavily guarded outpost has something valuable inside, ODIN sends two Adept teams to infiltrate the place. Janus and his team, including Celes Soltis and Marcus Auras, gain entrance and verify that Middleton is hiding something, though they learn nothing specific. They do, however, witness a shocking murder and signs of a surprise alliance. It’s soon clear that answers to what Middleton is concealing—and planning—lie at Cerberus. This takes Janus right back to the slums but likewise affords him the opportunity to ensure that Clara is alive and safe. As in the preceding novel, Sourbeer (The Phoenix Fallacy, Book III, 2018, etc.) infuses his tale with tight action sequences. These entail life-threatening battles or Adept training (even the ODIN sport of Brigg’s Ball teaches the cadets about teamwork). But this installment also benefits from quieter moments. For example, the scene of Adepts inside the Cerberus outpost garners suspense by prolonging their risk, as they slyly avoid detection. Furthermore, the volume addresses lingering questions from the earlier book, namely orphan Janus’ backstory, and particulars on the decimated Phoenix Corporation, once the most powerful of its kind. Concluding appendices are helpful, though the highlight is the extensive set of rules for Brigg’s Ball, an indication of the author’s painstaking details.

As exhilarating as the first futuristic installment, with a deft expansion of the main arc.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 2014
Page count: 370pp
Publisher: Time Tunnel Media
Program: Kirkus Indie
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