Orbit | 2018 (29 November) | 482p | Review copy | Buy the book
Exodus is the middle book in Jamie Sawyer’s trilogy The Eternity War and it picks up exactly at that jawdropping moment where Pariah left off. So do read Pariah first. This review assumes that you’ve done just that.
Lieutenant Keira Jenkins leads a team of SimOps (Simulation Operatives), her Jackals. These men and women make suicide missions their speciality. They transition into ‘skins’, organic and enhanced bodies that can fight and die as supersoldiers, time after time, while their vulnerable bodies stay safe in their tanks. Each violent death, though, leaves a painful stigmata on their real bodies. Life such as this takes its toll. But the Galaxy is in crisis. After a time of peace between humans and the alien Krell, war has once again broken out, inflamed by a disease that is transforming the Krell into something even more terrible, horrifying and lethal. The pot is being stirred. Old enemies presumed defeated are back while there is a new group to fear – the terrorist Black Spiral network. Jenkins’ Jackals are vital for the survival of the Alliance but, in order to learn the truth about the true nature of the threat, they must first survive the horrific prisons of the Directorate.
Jamie Sawyer is a master of military science fiction pageturner thrillers! His first trilogy, The Lazarus War, named after the legendary SimOps leader Lazarus (aka Conrad Harris), a man who had risen from the dead more often than anyone else, first took us into the world of the Alliance, the Directorate, the Krill and the other aliens that exist in the shadows. Jenkins had been a member of the Lazarus Legion but now she leads her own unit and this new trilogy is every bit as action packed as the first.
Exodus is the middle novel but it tells an exciting story in its own right before laying the groundwork for the conclusion. The action never lets up and so the pages race through the fingers as Jenkins’ Jackals tackle baddies left right and centre, in prisons, planets, spaceships and other stranger places. Some of what they face is enormously brutal, the stuff of nightmares, particularly towards the beginning of the novel, but a big reason why this all works so well is because we’re so invested in the characters.
The Jackals are such a varied bunch – Novak, the man imprisoned for life who is working off his sentence; Zero, the young woman rescued from desperation by Lazarus as a child; Lopez, the rebellious daughter of one of the most important politicians in the Alliance; Feng, a renegade Directorate clone soldier; and then there’s Pariah – I’m not going to say anything about Pariah… But Keira Jenkins has now firmly established herself as my favourite. There are other characters we’ll meet here that will delight anyone who’s read Jame Sawyer’s novels before. But the people I’ll remember the most are the utterly appalling Directorate military who stamp their boot on the book at its very beginning.
This is fast, military science fiction. It doesn’t explain how things work and it doesn’t spend pages on character development – there simply isn’t time, there isn’t a moment to waste as Jenkins’ Jackals plunge from one death trap to another. It’s an exhilarating, fun adventure, with a great bunch of baddies to hate, some loathsome aliens to fear and some fine heroes to get behind. All set in space! Excellent. And book three promises to be the most explosive of them all.