The infamous Princess Kristine Longknife of Wardhaven is, surprisingly enough, bored. Sure, she has her very own warship, disguised as a merchant vessel, laden with scientists and researchers intent on exploring beyond the rim of human space, but she’s a creature of action, and the action just isn’t happening. To most people, this would be relief. To her, it’s the sheer knowledge that something will happen, and she’s tired of waiting. And so Kris Longknife goes hunting for pirates and trouble anyway. One hostile ship later, she’s on to something, and that something leads to the troubled planet of Pandemonium, where a rogue expedition seems intent on taking the place over and installing new management. Nothing will do at that point, but for Kris and her people to lead the natives of Pandemonium in a cunning battle for freedom. It’s a shame her enemies always underestimate her. Because once Kris is done mopping up on Pandemonium, she stumbles over the worst problem of the week: a plot to assassinate Henry Peterwald, one of the most powerful men alive and one of her worst enemies… and she’s implicated. Should she fail to prevent this plot, she’ll be blamed, whether it succeeds or not. And so Kris Longknife rushes off, to save her worst enemy, to place herself deep in hostile territory, and to take a terrible risk with thousands of lives on the line, all for a man who hates her. Maybe she should have stayed bored.
As always, the Kris Longknife series is one I turn to when I need some fast, fun military science fiction. It’s action-packed and fast-paced. Mike Shepherd’s distinctive staccato writing and snappy dialogue makes for a quick, constantly-moving story, and he always delivers on the easy-to-visual battle scenes. At this point, six books into the series, I’ve thoroughly bought into the legend of Kris Longknife, willing to believe in her over-the-top ability to escape any situation while still cracking wise and shooting straight. I almost feel sorry for anyone who underestimates her skills or dismisses her offhand, be they friend or foe. Once you get used to the folk hero-esque achievements of Kris and her friends, you realize that Shepherd’s done a great job of creating a memorable, lasting set of myths for the science fiction age. How can I explain it? The more I read in this series, the more I read of Kris Longknife’s exploits, the more I want to compare her to some of the old-fashioned space opera or pulp heroes. Am I reading too much into things? Perhaps. What counts, though, is that Intrepid is a fun addition to the series, and I’ll be looking forward to the next one.
Originally reviewed for SF Site, 2009