Rules of Conflict is book 2 in a series with a prequel, so it’s the third I’ve read and reviewed! As usual, my first task is to get to grips with who Jani Kilian is and what her world is about (vague memories are floating through my head of someone who had several aliases last time).

Law of Survival is book 3 in the series. After a day of thinking about the protagonist, and discovering that book 6 in the series was published in December, I opened up book 3 before I’d forgotten who was who. After I’d bought books 4-6…

Rules of Conflict (Jani Kilian #2)

by Kristine Smith

For eighteen years, Captain Jani Kilian has been hiding from her bloody past. Now she faces trial for what she once did, what she knows now, and what she has become.

Eighteen years ago, she was saved by a radical–and illegal–medical procedure that added alien genetic material to her own. But her hybrid body is breaking down. And so is everything else. 

Relations between the human and alien idomeni races are deteriorating as rapidly as Jani Kilian’s augmentation. And Jani’s reemergence has caused old wounds to reopen and new wounds to form. Perhaps it’s time for a damaged soldier to stop fighting; to let the desperate architects of a vast and devouring conspiracy keep the truth well hidden; to let the universe and everyone in it go straight to Hell.

Perhaps not… (goodreads)

Law of Survival (Jani Kilian #3)

by Kristine Smith

It takes a killer to catch a killer.Jani Kilian finally has her life under control. Discharged from the Service, she’s become an important player in negotiations with the alien idomeni.

But when a classified report containing revelations about past crimes comes to light, Jani realizes that old enemies still seek to destroy her. As dangers mount and those closest to her are threatened, a hard lesson learned during her years on the run hits home. Whether in colonial back alleys or halls of power, the game is life and death, and only the winner survives. (Goodreads)

My Reviews

it always seems that I struggle to remember who’s who in this world. There are a lot of characters, most of whom have devious relationships with each other. Most are trying to wangle favours or simply gain dominance over the others. Jani Kilian would like to find some answers, but mostly she would like to survive. Fortunately she finds others who would like that too, even if that’s not always for Jani’s own good.

This series is brilliantly written. The details of alien worlds and battles ping from the page. Once I got a handle on who’s who, most of them did too. The exception was Evan, who is isolated in a strand of trouble of his own making, and gets his own parallel story. It does tie in with Jani’s past, but every time we switched to his story (helpfully the author always started the chapter with ‘Evan’) I thought ‘who?’

The rest of the story is filled with twists and deception both human and alien. The development of the chief alien is beautiful. It’s mostly sci-fi in a genetically engineered sense, but I’m stretching it into space opera because of the legacy of the interstellar conflicts. It’s good to see someone writing the convoluted consequences of these actions, and I couldn’t wait to read more. So I didn’t.

and then…

Very little time elapses between this and the previous volume. Enough for Jani to get a new flat, and a couple of her other regular companions to develop their jobs a little. The international human-idomeni relationships are hotting up, and idomeni are developing their own factions. This disturbed me for a while, since it all seemed very political.

I needn’t have worried. Jani’s specialist skills become the key to unravelling the chaos that others are trying to create. The characters become clear in this volume, both the old and the new. Some light-hearted moments ease us through Jani’s torrid affairs. More importantly, she finds new allies, which we can tell, even though she can be a reliable unreliable narrator. The addition of her parents into the mix raises the stakes admirably.

So from political chaos emerges a really exciting thriller, with intrigue and assassins abounding. I loved it, but I’m taking a break before the next in the series!

Book Reviews | Rules of Conflict/Law of Survival (Jani Kilian #2+3)
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3 thoughts on “Book Reviews | Rules of Conflict/Law of Survival (Jani Kilian #2+3)

  • 22 June, 2024 at 10:42 pm

    Hmm… this one sounds like a maybe for me right now. I’m not sure I’m in the market for a thriller, SF or otherwise. But it sure sounds well done!

    • 23 June, 2024 at 9:10 am

      Well I’ve just finished book 4, which was okay…and as I’ve already bought the rest of the series, I’ll read them. Not sure I would have done otherwise. It’s good, not gripping, and too many dislikeable characters for my taste.

  • 24 June, 2024 at 5:45 am

    I really enjoyed reading your review! This one doesn’t sound like my usual reads, but it definitely looks interesting. I might give it a try.


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