cover image Knight (A Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War)

Knight (A Chronicle of the Sibyl’s War)

Timothy Zahn. Tor, $24.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-2967-7

In this passable continuation of the Sybil’s War series (after Pawn), Nicole Hammond, kidnapped by the alien Shipmasters and forced to serve on the starship Fyrantha, must lead her fellow humans in a deception plot in order to save all of humankind from enslavement. In the bowels of the ship, Nicole meets Wesowee, one of the sharklike Ghorf, who serve alongside the human work crews repairing the ship. As they make their way through the ship, they encounter Thii and Ponng aliens in an arena, engaged in a mock combat scenario. Believing that the winners of these contests are better suited to combat, the Shipmasters sell the location of the victors’ home worlds to other alien races, who then capture entire populations to use as cannon fodder. Nicole works desperately to avoid this fate when she discovers that the Shipmasters have arranged combat between her human work group and another. This is the work’s logical weak spot—why would starfaring civilizations rely on small group combats set up by a third party for their knowledge of others’ military capabilities? Logic aside, Zahn’s showcasing of nonviolent solutions is unusual, especially in space opera, and will draw readers looking for a change. (Apr.)