Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: Cobra Bargain

Cobra Bargain
Cobra Bargain by Timothy Zahn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book Info: Genre: Military Science-fiction Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the 6th book in the series (or 3rd book in the 2nd trilogy) in exchange for an honest review; I have purchased these earlier books on my own, but am happy to provide an honest review anyway.

Synopsis: It is the year 2474. Corwin Moreau, now 55, is governor of Aventine, but the fact that the Moreau family has held power for so long is beginning to generate bad feelings in the Cobra Worlds Council. Corwin's contributions to the colony's success and those of his legendary father – Jonny Moreau, the original COBRA – are fading in the light of an anti-Cobra political faction.

But the greatest challenge of Cobra Bargain faces Corwin's niece, Jasmine. Her only ambition is to become a Cobra – but no woman has ever been accepted to the Academy or ever will be, if her opponents have their way. Then a mission arises that demands Jasmine's participation. Information is desperately needed on the planet Qasama's growing space capabilities. A female would create camouflage for the infiltrating force – and because Jasmine has mastered the difficult Qasaman language, she is reluctantly accepted. Disaster strikes almost immediately...

My Thoughts: This is the final book in the first Cobra trilogy, although there is a second trilogy out: the Cobra War trilogy. I’ll be reading that next.

It’s been over 60 years since the Cobra warrior was first created and released upon the Troft, and there are still splashes echoing through the years. The Cobra Syndrome means that those implanted with the servos and laminae on their bones eventually develop debilitating arthritis and anemia, and have a considerably shortened lifespan as a result. To make matters worse, there continue to be rejects from the Cobra program even after the basic implants, leading to a group of people – called the Jects – who suffer the results but never were offered the benefits of actually being a full Cobra.

Finally, in this book (originally published in 1988, the year – by the by – in which I graduated from high school) the issue of the sexist military policies of the era are dragged into the light, kicking and screaming. I have no idea if Zahn intended this when he first started writing this books, including this anachronistic policy as part of the overall storyline, or if it was pointed out to him at some point in the three years since the first book in the series had been published. Everyone always trots out the old “women don’t have the warrior instinct” nonsense, but all that is necessary to turn that on its head is to point out the fact that the female of the species is always more dangerous and deadly in defense of their home and family – women just don’t see the point in going to war over the many idiotic reasons that men tend to come up with. But threaten that same woman’s family or friends or home... and you have just made a very dangerous enemy, one who will be more ruthless than you can possibly imagine.

I really enjoyed the ending of this one – it is obvious that this was originally meant to be the end of things, before Zahn started writing the second trilogy – the Cobra War trilogy – over 20 years later. A fine piece of military science-fiction, highly recommended.

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