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Law of Survival    by Kristine Smith order for
Law of Survival
by Kristine Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Eos, 2001

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jani Killian is back in this third of a remarkable new series, set in a future universe in which trade in the 'humanish' Commonwealth is dominated by powerful Families. The heroine, presumed lost in an alien civil war, was secretly rebuilt from near death using idomeni genetic materials. On the run for a couple of decades, she has now been rehabilitated and has regained civilian status as a document examiner. Her relationship to the idomeni Tsecha and her unique experience with his people gives her an important role in human-idomeni negotiations, and as the story opens she is buried in paperwork.

Kristine Smith reminds me more and more of C. J. Cherryh, in particular for her ability to portray credible (and consistent) aliens with their own complex society and rivalries, religion and taboos. Though Smith's heroine is not so much of a Stranger in a Strange Land as Cherryh's characters so often are, she is a loner, isolated by her fears of losing her humanity as her body evolves. Killian was very much on her own in the first two books, but now has regained contact with her family; has friends, allies and a live-in lover, the gorgeous, unfeeling killer Lucien.

She needs them too, as enemies, human and idomeni, move against both Jani and her idomeni friend and mentor. Someone is attempting to discredit Jani by circulating at high levels a white paper which documents her illegal activities while on the run. The conservative idomeni are moving against Tsecha and his drive for increased contact between the races. And a powerful criminal organization, L'araignée, has been making inroads in all the colonies, disposing of anyone who stands up to them. Jani and those close to her are in immediate danger from the organization's assassin, Le Blond, and friends warn her against Lucien.

This series is a fascinating read with action, romance and an admirable heroine who must come to terms with her growing hybridization into the first human / idomeni blend. Though Law of Survival reaches a satisfying conclusion, I hope to see more of this intriguing universe and its indomitable heroine.

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