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Title: Croma Venture
Series: Spiral Wars #5
Author: Joel Shepherd
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The Crew of the Phoenix, with the help of the alien Parren, have found a remaining stronghold of the machine race Drysine. Styx, the last surviving Drysine queen, begins making surreptitious work on the facility and ends up with a new queen. She gives the responsibility of negotiating with the Parren to this new queen, named Layla. Lizbeth Debogande is also the only human currently negotiating with the Parren and she and Layla form a friendship. Lots of politics happen and it turns out that the ruling house of the Parren made a deal with the Deepynines (another machine race that was very hostile to all organic life) and blamed lots of stuff on the currently rising House, the House that Layla is negotiating with. Betrayals happen and it is revealed to all the Parren that 25,000 years of their history was based on a lie. This leads to a huge powershift that allows the House both Layla and Lizbeth are dealing with to become the Head House.
The Tavali, another alien species that Humanity had been at war with, reveal that their whole civilization has been infiltrated by malicious genetic code. Probably by the Deepynine/Alo alliance. Humanity finds itself infiltrated as well. The only species that everyone knows about that can solve a problem of this magnitude are the Rhee. Unfortunately, the Rhee make everyone mentioned so far look like toddlers at a daycare. The Croma are at war with the Rhee and Erik Debogande, captain of the Phoenix, hopes to make contact with the Croma and see if they can get any information on this gene infiltration.
More politics ensue and factions come into play and the Phoenix is used by the Croma and one of their ally species, the Corbi, to further their own ends. This leads to an attack on a gene splicing station in Rhee territory where the Corbi and Croma have told the Phoenix that a huge database exists, which might have the cure for the gene infiltration. Major Trace Thakur is left behind when the Rhee counter-attack with ships just as good if not better than the Phoenix and Styx finds herself outmatched. Turns out the Rhee have gone the route of hybridization and are as much machine race as organic now.
The book ends with the Corbi letting the Phoenix know that they have an operation that can rescue Major Thakur, if Phoenix can get to the Rhee main world and pick her up.
I did enjoy this book. The action was great and even the politics were edged with action instead of being dry and dusty. I would consider this much closer in tone to the first book than book 4.
That being said, and despite rating it 4stars, I will not be continuing this series until it is finished. Shepherd shows in this book beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has no end-game scenario in play. There is no Final Goal, just the Next Goal. I guess I have more of an issue with the series than this particular book. Shepherd still goes on and on about descriptive scenery that I simply skimmed over. Since I still enjoyed the book, that means that descriptiveness was not at all necessary but a choice on his part.
Once Shepherd decides to get his act together and actually finish this series then I’ll go and read the rest of the books. But until then, I’m done with this series and done with this author. I’ve enjoyed my reads but it is not good enough for me to be willing to keep being strung along.