This is the first in the space opera series about space navy officer Kristine Longknife.
Ensign Kris Longknife’s father is the prime minister of her home planet Wardhaven. She’s tired of being a politician all the time, so she joined the navy over the loud protestations of her family. Her first mission is to rescue a kidnapped girl. Unfortunately, that mission cuts a bit too close to home because when she was six years old, her younger brother was kidnapped and killed. Now, she’s determined to rescue the girl no matter what. But she and her team quickly find out that they aren’t just facing local robbers but a band of heavily equipped criminals from Earth.
After that mission the navy is trying to save money and she, along with all other officers and crew, are allowed to go home for a while. Kris doesn’t get along well with her family who is expecting her to give up her career and come home. Also, after the death of her brother, her mother is very protective of her.
It’s almost a relief to Kris when she and some of the officers are called back on duty. An active volcano has devastated planet Olympia where there’s a farming community. The navy is sent to help them. However, the commanding officer there is Hancock who is known for shooting first and asking questions later. Kris and her team descent to a place which has lost any hope for the future. Kris, however, isn’t going to give up.
Kris is a very young heroine. She’s trying to still find her own place in the universe and to convince her parents that she’s an adult. She carries a lot of guilt from the death of her younger brother Eddie and she’s very protective towards kids. After Eddie’s death her father buried himself into work and her mother tried to make Kris into a young lady which Kris resented. Kris copes by drinking. Her great-grandfather finally gets her to stop drinking but she’s still reluctant to drink anymore. She’s also an optimist and somewhat naive. However, she grows a lot during the book.
Kris’ family is an interesting group. Both of her great-grandfathers are alive and well. They are also war heroes and they haven’t had much contact with Kris at all. Her father is, of course, very political and has raised Kris to be aware of all politicking around her. Her mother has a “busy social schedule”. Her aunt True is a computer genius who makes her own rules. Kris’ elder brother is being groomed to be the next politician in the family and isn’t seen much.
She doesn’t get along with either of her commanding officers, first Captain Thorpe aboard the Typhoon who seems to resent the rich and powerful Longknifes, and then Lieutenant Colonel Hancock who seems to hate pretty much everyone equally because of his own murky past.
Kris’ loyal side kick Tommy Lean is also an ensign who follows Kris’ lead for pretty much everything. Tommy is from a poor mining colony. Unfortunately, many of the other characters are quite clichéd.
There’s some interesting technology in the book. The ships have mutable steel which can change the form of the ship. Kris has a personal supercomputer Nelly which can access almost anything and has a lot of information in it.
There’s a mention of one non-human species which apparently had fought fiercely against the humans but is currently dormant.
The book is set among the colonies which appear to be very unhappy with their trade agreement with the wealthier Earth and “the Seven Sisters”. They are all supposed to be part of a federation call the Society of Humanity which, for example, prohibits the death penalty. Still, many seem to resent the Society.
The start of the book is somewhat awkward because there are long flashback sequences to Eddie’s kidnapping while Kris is supposed to organize her team and go to very serious work. However, the writing gets better later on.
Some reviewers think that the name of the book (Mutineer) is misplaced because Kris doesn’t mutiny against the navy. However, she does rebel against her family in pretty spectacular fashion.
I accidentally bought the second in the series first and I’ll certainly read it.