A Military-Tastic End to This Lesbian Military Sci Fi Saga: A Review of VORTEX OF CRIMSON by Lise MacTague

BEL-Vortex Crimson_2Vortex of Crimson by Lise MacTague is the third book in her military science fiction / romance trilogy On Deception’s Edge. If you intend to read this trilogy—and I definitely recommend it for fans of both the genres lesbian romance and military sci fi—you should go back now and read the first in the series, Depths of Blue . At the end of the second book we left Torrin and Jak reunited and having got over the hurdles of misunderstanding that plagued them throughout Heights of Green. But there’s a cruel irony in their reunion, since Jak is literally losing her mind, which is riddled with maps and other tactical information from her time as a sniper. Torrin’s desert planet, where they currently are, doesn’t have the technology to remove the information, so the couple head off, reluctantly on Torrin’s part, for Jak’s home planet Haefen. Little do they know that Jak’s rapidly deteriorating mental health is going to be only one of the many problems they are going to have to deal with…

Readers were already aware at the end of Heights of Green that Torrin’s sister Nat’s spaceship had been attacked and Nat kidnapped, but Jak and Torrin don’t get the bad news until they get to Haefen. Jak’s old nemesis, the sniper for the opposing army who killed her brother and who she’s had a vendetta against, has also re-emerged. A few of their problems converge when it turns out that it is him who’s captured Nat and is holding her as bait to lure Jak. But what is it exactly that he wants? His actions also show that he’s getting information from the other side, and Jak and Torrin end up having a mole to find as well as figuring out how to kill the sniper after they discover who he is and what his motivations are. If this sounds exciting to you, go forth and get this book (after reading the first two in the series, obviously!).

To be honest, I found myself missing the fun, sexy romance of the first book and the relationship drama from the second book while reading the third book. As I said in my review of the first book, military sci fi is definitely not a genre I usually read, mostly because I’m not interested in the military part. I love science fiction, and am really interested in how that genre interrogates what it means to be human and its ability to look at humanity from a totally alien—pun intended—perspective. Those aren’t the concerns of this trilogy, which is totally fine. My sense is that military sci fi in general does not really do that.

The military action in Vortex of Crimson could conceivably have taken place on Earth in some kind of alternate history or something. Since I’m not particularly interested in military stories, I was looking for a way in which the science fictional setting made this military story different. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t. This probably means that readers who do like stories focused on the military (with the bonus of lesbian characters) will really like this trilogy, and especially the closing book Vortex of Crimson. For me—a reader who loves a good romance plot but military stuff not so much—the trilogy got less interesting for me as it went on since by the end Jak and Torrin are pretty solid. (Yes, of course, this lesbian romance has an HEA).

So I guess my final word is, even though the military-focused plot in this final book didn’t jive with me personally, if that’s your jam you should definitely check out Vortex of Crimson.

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About CaseytheCanadianLesbrarian

Known in some internet circles as Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, Casey Stepaniuk is a writer and librarian who holds an MA in English literature. She lives and works in the unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation (Nanaimo, BC). Topics and activities dear to her heart include cats, bisexuality, libraries, queer (Canadian) literature, running, and drinking tea. She runs the website Casey the Canadian Lesbrarian, where you can find reviews of LGBTQ2IA+ Canadian books, archives of the book advice column Ask Your Friendly Neighbourhood Lesbrarian, and some other queer, bookish stuff. She also writes for Autostraddle. Find her on Twitter: @canlesbrarian. Some of her old reviews, especially the non-Canadian variety, can be found at the Lesbrary.
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