A fast-paced and fun sci-fi space adventure with a great protagonist, Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer (@TammySalyer) starts with a running gun fight and doesn’t let up until the explosive conclusion.
You know that “have to know what happens next?” feeling you get reading some books? The “just one more chapter” syndrome? Yup, I definitely felt that way about Contract, which I read over a two-day span on a rainy weekend.
Set in the future after humans have moved out into space, Contract opens with military deserters Aly Erickson and her brother fleeing from a squad of soldiers after helping steal a disk of valuable information. Aly and David are part of a team of smugglers led by Rajcik, an infamous criminal with a visceral hatred for the Admin — the brutal regime commanding that corner of the galaxy.
After her brother is captured, Aly falls in with an odd group of renegade settlers who hope to strike a deal with her criminal crew but don’t seem to understand how deadly a proposition that could be. Still, Aly needs to get her brother free from the Admin and its military, so she must carefully navigate a path between the two wary and distrustful groups to find and save him.
A paratrooper during her service in the U.S. Army, Ms. Salyer’s plentiful action scenes are exciting and well-written, and she brings Aly to life exceptionally well. After years spent on the run as a deserter and part of a vicious criminal gang, Aly’s sole allegiance is to her brother but her moral compass isn’t entirely broken. The story is told by Aly, and she is surrounded by an eclectic and interesting group of characters — most of whom are more than they seem at first glance. Finding out which is part of the fun.
Contract of Defiance won the 2010 Colorado Gold contest for best new action/thriller and I would say that is a well-deserved honor. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a military/sci-fi with plenty of action, great characters and a few well-placed twists. Ms. Salyer’s follow-up in the series, Contract of Betrayal is due out in 2013 and I’m looking forward to Aly’s next adventure.
To learn more about Ms. Salyer, check out her blog.