Where Peace Is Lost

By Valerie Valdes

Rating: 4 stars

Kel is a refugee, from an Order that chose to disband in the hope that it could do more good than continuing to fight the Pale empire. Now she’s in hiding on an out of the way planet, remaining anonymous to protect those around her. Except someone has activated one of the Pale’s giant war machines, and Kel finds herself, along with a young friend, guiding two strangers who have offered to shut it down again… for a price.

I really enjoyed Valdes’ previous trilogy featuring swashbuckling space captain Eva Innocente so pre-ordered this as soon as I found out about its existence, without even stopping to check what it was about. And now, having read it, I don’t regret that at all.

This is a quieter, more contemplative piece than the Chilling Effect books. As the author unfurls the world, you get the impression that, if she wants to be, Kel could be incredibly powerful, and could leave destruction in her wake. But that’s not what her Order was about. That can be summed up in their mantra, which Kel repeats to herself throughout the book:

“Where peace is lost, may we find it. Where peace is broken, may we mend it. Where we go, may peace follow. Where we fall, may peace rise.”

She continues to hide, always second-guessing herself – would she cause more harm by continuing to hide, or by revealing herself and fighting? And near the end of the book, you’re just waiting for the switch and for her to stand up and draw her sword… and then she makes a different choice. It’s not a story often told, and is slightly heartbreaking. (minor spoiler: you do get to see her doing her thing eventually, and it’s awesome).

The other thing I really liked about this book is showing how lonely that Kel is. She lives in the wilderness, with only the young Lunna going out of their way to befriend Kel. She tries to hide this loneliness from herself, but when she has to go on this road trip with Lunna and the off-worlders – Dare and Savvy – it starts to hit home. In a lot of ways, Kel reminds me of Obi-Wan or Yoda, albeit we see much more of the pain of self-inflicted isolation than we did with those two characters.

The romance that slowly blossoms between Kel and another character is lovely to see, between two very damaged people who, it turns out, have as much in common as divides them.

This is very much as self-contained story, but I hope Valdes comes back to the setting, since I’m sure there are more stories to be told about Kel and her new found family and resistance against the Pale. And I’m here for them.

Book details

ISBN: 9780063085930

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