An Officer’s Duty: Theirs Not to Reason Why, by Jean Johnson, was published in 2012. It is the second book in the “Theirs Not To Reason Why” series. I reviewed the first book here.
I downloaded it from the Seattle Public Library.
The first sentence is: “Thank you for letting me take that quick break from this interview“.
It’s 2492 (Terran Standard). Lieutenant Ia returns home to Sanctuary, on leave from the Marine Corps.
She’s happy to see her family again, and they’re happy to see her. She’s happy to feel Sanctuary’s heavy gravity again.
Ia (which we know from the first book is her full name, and is pronounced EE-yah) is on leave from the Salik Wars. Meanwhile, the independent colony world of Sanctuary is facing a potential conflict centered around religious fanaticism.
Ia sees the invasion that’s coming. She knows it must be stopped. She knows she’s going to need help. She tells her brother to drop his Arts degree and go into Law. She tells a friend to go into Space Station Support. Ia knows what has to be done, even when no one else understands it.
As a soldier in the Space Force Marine Corps, Ia is trained to fight the Salik. As an ordained priestess of the Witan Order, Ia begins assembling a cult to fight the Church.
When her leave is over, Ia travels to Portugal, Earth, to begin her officer training. She opts to enter the Navy Academy, rather than the Marine Academy, trading her dress browns for dress blues.
Navy Cadet Ia is assigned a roommate named Meyun Harper. For reasons she doesn’t understand, Ia can’t sense him in the timestreams. She can’t predict Meyun Harper, and that worries her. She knows that the future is fluid, and it’s vital that she be able to predict the possible outcomes of every decision, and that’s why not being able to read Meyun is a problem.
An Officer’s Duty follows Ia through her training and combat simulations in the Navy Academy, through her problematic relationship with Meyun, and her tours of duty aboard the TUPSF Audie-Murphy (two modular ships stacked together, the Audie and the Murphy, with a crew of fourteen each).
The first quarter of this book didn’t grab me at all. I found it too slow, and too confusing. If it weren’t for my commitment to finish every book I start for the Reading Challenge, I would have abandoned An Officer’s Duty. Then, at the point where Ia checks in at the Navy Academy, the book suddenly grabbed me. It got interesting. I’m not sure if it was the story or my frame of mind.
This book features finely crafted worldbuilding. It creates the diverse cultures of many sentient species. It details what it’s like for a Terran to grow up on a planet with over three times standard gravity. It creates its own dialects – I’m especially fond of the word “sentientarian”, as in “Sentientarian Aid”.
Ia (“One name, two letters, two syllables“), the Prophet of a Thousand Years, is a fascinating character. I like Ia. She’s a tough soldier, dedicated to the rules and order of the Terran United Planets Space Force. She’s a slightly rebellious priestess. She’s driven by a vision of the future she had when she was a teenager. Her whole life is guided by what she knows she must do to save the future lives of trillions of sentient beings. Her precognition leads her to choose some unorthodox solutions to dangerous situations. Her superiors are continually facing the decision of whether to discipline Ia for her actions, or award her for her successes.
An Officer’s Duty is part of an on-going story. There is much left unresolved.
Once I got into it, I liked this book a lot.