Kristine Smith’s 2007 Endgame is the final book in her Jani Kilian quintet.
About a year has passed since the last book. The idomeni oligarch, Ceel, determined to put an end to Tsecha’s ongoing heretical activities, decides on a cunning plan. Surely assassinating a charismatic leader will dissuade their followers from pursuing heretical ways! What could possibly go wrong?
[spoilers abound for those who haven’t read the previous books in the series]
On the human side of things, the Commonwealth is facing its first succession crisis. The humans are on the verge of a civil war. Jani is facing a personal crisis: her Prime Minster hates the idomeni-hybrid (because hybrid) and is legally persecuting her.
On the idomeni side, Oligarch Ceel has enlisted Rilas the assassin to deal with Tsecha. Rilas maneuvers themself into position from which they can target the heretic; ideally, the death would not scream “a hired killer did this.”
Rilas’ infallible plan works to an extent: Tsecha is dead. But Rilas has left a trail of clues that it’s an assassination. Perhaps a human will be blamed (because idomeni do not assassinate other idomeni, right?) but Jani and her friends are more clueful than that. Plus, “trail of clues.”
At this point, it may seem all that is left is following the trail until the killer and mastermind are caught. But … not only is Ceel committed to a strategy of “keep killing people until people stop being curious about the killings,” some peculiarities of the Idomeni legal system could mean that tracking down Rilas could cause the deaths of millions of innocent idomeni. Failing that, revealing Ceel’s plot could trigger a full-scale idomeni civil war.
Unless Jani can find an alternative.
This book asks an interesting question: [rot 13 for huge spoiler] Tvira gung Wnav’f rk. Yhpvna, npprcgrq n pbagenpg ba Wnav naq gung va gur raq ur qvqa’g sbyybj guebhtu ba vg, jbhyq vg or cbffvoyr gb erxvaqyr gurve ebznapr?
This book devoted more pages than I would have expected to Jani’s deftness at navigating bureaucracy and paperwork. However, I can only applaud the author’s hat tip to these important skills, which are likely to be of much more use to readers than derring-do with weapons.
This book was 404 pages long, so slightly shorter than Contact Immanent at 437. Only slightly. That doesn’t explain why this book feels much more tightly plotted than Contact Immanent. I must commend the author for not losing control of the series’ ending. It’s easy to lose control of pacing when one is trying to tie up every loose end … or worse yet, end up with an unfinishable, expanding series as threads multiply out of control. Smith has remained in control. There’s room for sequels here, but no need for them, which is a good place to end.
I thought this the best book of the series.