Johnson, Jean: A Soldier’s Duty (2011)

Cover art by Gene Mollica. Cover design by Annette Fiore DeFex. Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

A Soldier’s Duty is my introduction to the writing of Jean Johnson, and a pleasurable acquaintance it has been. Gene Mollica is the cover artist. He captures the spirit of this novel really well.

A Soldier’s Duty is the first installment of the series Theirs Not To Reason Why. From the cover you can probably guess that the main character in this heroic tale is going to be a woman.

Is it possible to change the future? Maybe, if you are a precog like Ia. She has seen a future for the Galaxy so horrifying that she is willing to do anything to stop it. But to change the future will mean following a trail so narrow there is no room for mistakes. For Ia it will mean sacrifices beyond what she thinks she can bear. However, bear them she must.

In a sense, Ia is somewhat like Honor Harrington. She is willing to put the good of the group before her own wishes. Ia is also willing to work incredibly hard to be the best that she can be. A Soldier’s Duty was full of technical data (no idea how realistic it was). Where Honor and Ia’s likeness ends is in the style of writing that Jean has. Jean takes her writing that tiny indefinable step beyond David Weber’s. You know that step that drops you into the river of her words almost immediately.

I have come to realize that this artistic quality that separates the really good from the word-artists is so small that it is sometimes barely felt. However, it is felt. Jean manages the leap. A person has to be born with it I think.

Anyways. You get the picture.

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