SHROUDED LOYALTIES by Reese Hogan
Angry Robot Books, s/b, £9.99
Reviewed by Matthew Johns
Two nations, the Dhavnak and the Belzene, have been at war for a long time. The Belzene have a secret technology that allows them to move from one part of the planet to another in seconds – “shrouding” – by somehow shifting to an alternate realm about which next to nothing is known.
Mila Blackwood is a submarine officer in the Belzene navy, but after an accident when shrouding one day, both her and one of her crew receive strange markings, which seem to give them special abilities. They are forced to undergo testing by scientists at one of their military bases. Meanwhile, her brother, with whom she already had a strained relationship, has been seduced by a Dhavnak agent. In short, Mila is having a very bad day.
This excellent military science fiction novel is one of my first forays into this particular sub-genre, and I have to say that I’m a fan. Hogan’s superb writing and complex characters, the well-developed world that she has created and the fascinating technology for shrouding all combine to deliver a thrilling and compulsive read. She sends her characters to hell and back, on a journey of self-discovery and learning. Mila and her brother Andrew learn more about their late parents and each other, and they discover more about this alternate realm that shrouding takes them to. Loyalties are tested across the board, and the world that all of the characters know will never be the same again.
Whether you’re new to military science fiction or not, this is a worthy addition to anyone’s bookshelf – another winner from the always excellent Angry Robot stable.