Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer

Contract Of DefianceMaybe running for my life during a firefight with a squad of Corps soldiers isn’t the best time to be having second thoughts about my occupation, but I have to ask myself, why the hell did I become an arms smuggler? I could have been an engineer!

David vaults over a discarded tool caddy like a champion hurdler and I follow on his heels, clipping one foot on a drill and pinwheeling my arms to keep my balance without missing a step. This is a race where the loser dies.

Aly is a fugitive arms smuggler who thinks she understands her place in the criminal underworld she calls home — and which she finds, generally, a more ethical environment than the Admin-controlled mainstream society. Then her supposed colleagues abandon her and her brother when a mission goes wrong, and she starts to question everything she thought she knew about loyalty.

I really enjoyed this introduction to the Spectras Arise series. Aly is something of an antihero, with a lot of blood on her hands, but the first-person narrative makes clear that her heart is in the right place. Early in the story, Aly is separated from David, and her unswerving devotion to rescuing her brother — regardless of the odds against them — is the one constant in her shifting world.

To achieve this she’s quickly forced to throw her hand in with Vitruzzi and her crew, a band of mercenaries who abducted-slash-rescued her. This is only one example of the moral ambiguity which colours the narrative in varying shades of grey. Aly is a killer and a thief, but she cares. Vitruzzi is another freelance criminal, but has earned the loyalty of her crew in a manner that implies some kind of integrity. The Admin is generally vilified, but nevertheless maintains a kind of stability that non-citizen settlements can only dream of. If you enjoy a story where almost everyone has a troubled past or a troubling motive, this book will certainly appeal: there are no innocents (certainly not in the narrative, and seemingly not in the whole universe), and I can only point to one out-and-out bad guy who seems to delight in cruelty.

But really, ethical questions aside, this book is about the fight scenes. The gun-toting, hard-hitting action starts on the first page, and it barely slows for a moment as Aly and her new not-quite-allies cross the galaxy, hunting for a mysterious secret base in an unknown location. Some of the characters’ motivations didn’t quite gel for me (in particular, the Admin seems to be evil-because-it’s-Evil), but the pace and urgency and realism of the action kept me turning the pages at the expense of sleep. And really, that’s all you need.

One thought on “Contract of Defiance by Tammy Salyer

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s