Desert Isle Keeper
Games of Command
After finishing Linnea Sinclair’s novel, I felt a strong urge to go on a marathon of Star Trek episodes. However, despite its similarities to the TV series, the plot of Games of Command is its own, a thoroughly entertaining one and toward the end, an incredibly exciting, thrilling read
Long-time enemies, The United Coalition and the Triad signed a peace treaty and formed the Alliance to protect each other against a mutual enemy. Captain Tasha Sebastian should consider it a career point that the Triad chose her to be the first United Coalition officer to work on board one of its best hunterships, but instead she is very distressed. She is afraid that Admiral Kel-Paten, the commanding officer, might connect her with Lady Sass, a notorious – and presumed dead – mercenary who tangled with him during her many hijackings of Triad ships. Tasha reinvented herself after the “death” of Lady Sass and became a respectable United Coalition officer. Her secret is more than just a problem between her and Kel-Paten; if the Triad found out, they would consider it a major deception, enough possibly to destroy the new Alliance.
Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to remember her. Instead, he is driving her nuts by constantly hovering over her as she performs her duties and leads the mixed crew. However, she doesn’t know the reason why he’s always hanging around: it’s love.
Branden Kel-Paten fell hopelessly in love with Tasha when his Triad huntership hijacked her United Coalition supply ship 12 years ago. He let her go that day, but he has never forgotten her. Now that they work together, he tries to get closer to her, but he’s afraid. He thinks she might reject him because he is a biocybe, a human who underwent a procedure that severed off his limbs and replaced them with biocybernetic ones. Moreover, a biocybe is not supposed to feel any emotions; if the organization that created him found out, it would bode very ill for him.
Mysterious deaths are occurring on freighter ships, and the ship’s Chief Medical Officer, Eden Fynn, wants to investigate, but Kel-Paten overrides her in order to find a pirate who agreed to spy for the Alliance but has gone missing. Suddenly, a vortex appears out of nowhere. Tasha and Kel-Paten, using a clever but dangerous maneuver, escape. They discover that another ship, badly broken by the vortex, hitched a ride onto their ship. Kel-Paten immediately transports the ship’s injured crew to sickbay before the other ship breaks up and finds that one of the injured is none other than the missing mercenary/spy, Jace Serafino.
This novel was a grand space opera, a bold space adventure with two romances to enjoy, Tasha and Branden, and Eden and Jace. Tasha is a strong, confident character, a wily officer with a fun, cheeky personality as she shows by swearing like a sailor and wearing a pink t-shirt that says, “My Name’s No, No, Bad Captain! What’s Yours?”. Branden, part man, part machine, is sweet and so vulnerable in his longing for Tasha. He hates it when he has to perform his machine functions in front of her and is stunned when she shows him later she doesn’t care about that at all. Branden ends up giving Tasha a big surprise, something rather rare and quite wonderful.
Eden and Jace are smart and interesting characters, and they make a great secondary couple. Also enjoyable are the furzels, which are not only cute and charming pets of Tasha and Eden, but also courageous and determined little fighters.
Ms. Sinclair doesn’t skimp on the science fiction details, yet her prose is readable and the pages are easy to turn. Her description of the setting does such a good job that I practically felt like I was in the various spaceships they would pilot.
I found the story enjoyable and increasingly engrossing, by the final third of the book, the various plot threads converge, the action ramps up, and I could not put down the book down. I raced to the end, blown away by the heart-pounding action and heart-throbbing romance. This is when the book became a truly great book, when it delivered simply tremendous storytelling.
Here and there, some details are undeveloped, but the only quibble that really stands out is Linnea Sinclair’s use of the present tense for a flashback scene. It was awkward reading and didn’t seem necessary, considering italics set apart the flashback already. That’s just a blip, however, in this more than just a science fiction story. Games of Command is a flat-out terrific story of thrilling action and tender romance.