Orbit, Dec 2007, $12.99
Former guild military engineer Ziani Vaatzes once cherished his country the superpower Mezentine Republic. However, he understood the flaws in the military-guild-aristocratic complex that ruled the region making the neighboring Vadani and Eremians angry; the Empire used these nations as subordinate states to maintain their superiority. Ziani committed the worst transgression against the Guild and country when he tried to improve on the “perfect” economic model of suppression and was sentenced for innovative efficiencies crimes. He turned traitor selling military-industrial war machines. Many have since died, but Ziani remains obstinate even if it means the destruction of Civitas Vadanis with over a million people residing in it; but he also fears his barbarian allies will fail him.
Mezentine Republic leader Secretary Psellus is stunned by recent events as his country’s enemies have proven formidable in spite of massive slaughters of the civilian populace of his neighbors, as the insurgency remains strong against the occupation. He fears the ancient texts that guide him is failing as the Vadani and Eremians seem united in a common cause engineered by Vaatzes into an army of eight hundred thousand savages. Many innocent will die for either a belief system or for someone else’s personal gain.
The third book in The Engineer Trilogy (see DEVICES AND DESIRES and EVIL FOR EVIL) is a fascinating look at power; those who have it want more at any cost. The Republic has economic and military power over the region with their premise that savages are expendable in support of the status quo. Ziani remains narrowly obsessed as he comprehends his actions will leave thousands maybe millions dead; Psellus who has doubts is almost as narrow-minded and steadfastly stays the course. Other irresponsible leaders cloaking their motives behind the common good of security willingly send troops to die for a personal cause. Although at times the details are so explicit slows down the story line, readers will appreciate this strong look at the convergence of war, politics and economics.