Packed with action and edge-of-your-seat thrills, Contract of War by Tammy Salyer (@TammySalyer), is the wholly satisfying conclusion to the Spectras Arise Trilogy. I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy from the author.
Much has happened since the closing events of the prior book, Contract of Defiance (my review). A system-wide civil war shattered the status quo maintained by the iron fist of The Admin, but freedom comes with a price. A year later rebels and loyalists are still skirmishing as scattered outposts of humans claw and scratch out an existence by any means.
Former soldiers Aly Erickson, her brother David and partner Karl took part in the war’s early battles but opted out when questions arose about the motives and methods of the rebellion’s military leader. Settling with old friends on a former prison planet, they’re barely getting by while trying to maintain a low profile amidst the swirling anarchy.
Then a salvage team discovers a derelict Admin ship and the potential haul of desperately needed medical supplies proves too much to pass up. The salvage run sets into motion a chain of events that will test Aly’s resourcefulness and resolve to the utmost.
Contract of War is the unique book that feels both large in scope and intimate at the same time; the author does an admirable job letting the actions of a few individuals inform the bigger story of resolving a galaxy-wide conflict. There are some flashbacks, but I thought the decision to jump in time past the ‘shooting’ war and deal mostly with the aftermath was brilliant. Too often authors focus on blowing stuff up and not on sifting through the debris caused by the blast.
I’ve liked Aly as a character since the first entry, Contract of Betrayal (my review). She’s complex and contradictory but during our journey with her has made realistic progress on her trust issues and tendency to act first and think later. She’s matured a lot from the military deserter/criminal we first meet, and that doesn’t always sit well with her. But Aly has always been capable of holding her own in a fight — with fists, blades or automatic weapons — and those skills are most definitely tested here.
Contract of War is a highly satisfying close to a highly satisfying series that I strongly recommend to anyone looking for science fiction featuring fully realized characters and thrilling action sequences set against a backdrop of galaxy-wide revolution. For more information about this author visit her website.