Series: Sirantha Jax #3
Format Read: paperback
Source: My local library
Release Date: September 29, 2009
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Blurb from goodreads:
It’s not easy to tread lightly wearing steel-toed boots.
Sirantha Jax isn’t known for diplomatic finesse. As a “Jumper” who navigates ships through grimspace, she’s used to kicking ass first and taking names later—much later. Not exactly the obvious choice to sell the Conglomerate to the Ithtorians, a people whose opinions of humans are as hard as their exoskeletons.
And Ithiss-Tor council meetings aren’t the only place where Ambassador Jax needs to maneuver carefully. Her lover, March, is frozen in permanent “kill” mode, and his hair-trigger threatens to sabotage the talks—not to mention their relationship.
But Jax won’t give up on the man or the mission. With the Outskirts beleaguered by raiders, pirates, and the flesh-eating Morgut, an alliance with Ithiss-Tor may be humanity’s only hope.
Which has Jax wondering why a notorious troublemaker like her was given the job.
Sirantha Jax has grown so much over the course of three books. She has become much more mature, thoughtful and responsible. She questions constantly how she ended up as the ambassador to Ithiss-Tor (as do I admittedly), a planet of bug people who deem humans to be a lower life form and would prefer to have nothing to do with them. Nevertheless, she takes her mission seriously as humanity desperately needs the help of the Ithtorians in their battle against the Morgut, who are attacking and killing humans all around the universe. She gets impatient often but usually reins it in and is better at listening to advice and asking for it, though the latter still needs work. She thinks not only of herself but of her team and of humanity in general. She's determined not to screw while believing that sooner or later she will.
The story starts off with a lot of exposition and overall it's not as action packed as the first two books but given that the thrust of the story has to do with a diplomatic mission, that makes sense. There's also a subplot about March, Jax's lover and a mercenary. In the last book he was involved in a war and now he's shut down emotionally and suffering from extreme PTSD. Their relationship has suffered as a result and he's become so unstable that he's a threat to the mission. Jax is trying to help March, negotiate a treaty with the Ithtorians, and then things get really complicated. There are some twists and some clever plotting on Aguirre's part and I couldn't stop reading.
Helping Jax with her mission is Vel, an Ithtorian and former bounty hunter, has become one of her Jax's closest friends and we, and she, see just how close in this story. Vel hasn't been home in years but he serves as Jax's advisor, helping her with customs, language, etc. The more Jax learns, the more she realizes what an outsider Vel is on his home world and how unusual their friendship is. I really enjoyed learning more about Vel and seeing his and Jax's relationship. Aguirre does an excellent job at showing us the Ithtorian world and making it real, not just sketched in.
Actually, much of the book has to do with relationships - humans and Ithtorians, the Conglomerate and the Syndicate, Vel and Jax, Jax and March, Jax and Constance, etc. It's definitely more character oriented but also full of politics, some romance, and some action. Like the first two books, it kept me up way past my bedtime but was well worth it.