Rameau’s review archive: A Soldier’s Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why) by Jean Johnson


Ia is a precog, tormented by visions of the future where her home galaxy has been devastated. To prevent this vision from coming true, Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military with a plan to become a soldier who will inspire generations for the next three hundred years-a soldier history will call Bloody Mary.

A Soldier's Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why, #1)A Soldier’s Duty by Jean Johnson

Usually, I prefer more character driven stories. Although this book is told from Ia’s point of view and partly narrated in her voice—there are short notes from the character at the beginning of each chapter—it’s far from an emotional and introspective journey. Instead, Johnson concentrates on the world building and plotting Ia’s military career from basic training to her first officer’s post.

I don’t read nearly as much scifi as I’d like to, but I do read fantasy and that’s what drew me in here. This is the first book of a much bigger series, an introduction to a future world and the world beyond that place and time. I remember reading Game of Thrones and complaining that it was just an eight hundred page prologue to an even bigger story. Here, the book is four hundred pages and there is a semblance of a personal story there, but only the first step of it.

Because of her precognitive abilities and sense of responsibility, Ia has pushed aside all her personal feelings and aspirations. This doesn’t only show on the back cover blurb but in the book itself. Ia is fully concentrated on optimising her future and the path she must take to save her home galaxy. She occasionally refers to her family and friends, but mostly she’s pushing herself from one fight to another and manipulating the events to her advantage. She doesn’t always succeed perfectly, but she’s also yet to fail miserably.

As the story continues, I wish I’ll learn more about the person Ia hoped to become before that nightmare she saw at fifteen. I wish she’ll stumble and fall, badly, only to pick herself up again and maybe find a new path, a better path for herself and for the galaxy. I wish to see her grow as a character and I wish there’ll be more time for the people around her. I wish she’ll learn that she’s not better off being alone in this.

But I think I’ll be content combing through the battle heavy pages for the subtle hints of her character building as long as I learn more about this rich world Johnson has created.

I never thought I’d like a military books, but I guess there’s a right time for everything. It certainly was the right time for me to read this book. Thanks for Aurian to recommending and gifting this book to me.

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9 Responses to Rameau’s review archive: A Soldier’s Duty (Theirs Not to Reason Why) by Jean Johnson

  1. xaurianx says:

    I am still in love with this series. Did you read An Officer’s Duty and Hellfire yet?

    • rameau says:

      I read An Officer’s Duty earlier this year and I did buy Hellfire, I’ve just been distracted (by other books) and haven’t read it yet. It glares at me from the shelf.

  2. It was a DNF for me, believe it or not. I found Ia insufferably conceited and preachy. Perhaps she had a reason to be such a person but I lost the whole interest after her several ‘speeches’ which had the finest infodump quality.

    • xaurianx says:

      If you mean the “interview” at the start of each chapter, I just skipped those after the first 2 and went straight to the story itself.

      • Yeah, I mean those ‘interviews’ and also one scene in which Ia was instructing her fellow recruits during a meal in the canteen and they were swallowing her words like the holly gospel. It felt as if the girl was a sect guru, not a GI.

    • rameau says:

      I got past the infodumps and far enough into the story for them not to matter anymore. Or Ia’s personality. It’s a bit uneven but hit me in the right moment, so I’m sticking with it.

  3. blodeuedd says:

    I can’t remember if I finished it or not…

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