Hellfire (Theirs Not To Reason Why 03) by Jean Johnson


Her story began in the national bestsellers A Soldier’s Duty and An Officer’s Duty. Now Ia is captain and commander at the helm of Hellfire, where she is finally free to chart the course for the fulfillment of her destiny… As captain, Ia must now assemble a crew that can rise to the ultimate challenge of saving the galaxy. The hardest part will be getting them to believe her, to trust in her prophecies. If they don’t, her own crew will end up being the biggest obstacle in her race against time. The Salik are breaking through the Blockade, plunging the known galaxy into war. Ia cannot stop it this time, nor does she want to. This is the terrible price she has seen all along—that some must pay with their lives so that others might live. Now only time itself can prove whether each member of her crew is merely a soldier or truly one of Ia’s Damned.

A whitehaired woman stands facing the camera holding two big guns. There are starships in the background.I should read more scifi, I think, but I never do. Why? Because whenever I’m reading scifi I feel like a failure as a physics student for not understanding it all. Which is why whenever I pick up a Jean Johnson novel I leave my scientific brain at the door.

I won’t think too deeply about this, no I won’t. Except that doesn’t work either.

Hellfire is the third and the middle—I am told—book of Theirs Not to Reason Why-series. It felt a touch unfinished. I had some issues with the pacing and I guess that could be explained by the author extending the series with one book. The middle part was heavy on the battle sequences and somewhat jumpy with the date and scene changes. I liked the beginning where Ia once again visits her family on Sanctuary and the ending with a sliver of character development best.

Over and over I’ve said I’m a plot girl but—and here comes the caveat—not at the expense of the characters. There’s very little on Ia’s personal growth in any of the three books published so far. She has this huge task that’s literally bigger than any one life, even hers, but she’s holding it together and converting people into her way of thinking. There’s hardly anything on how she copes with the pressure or a failure.

In An Officer’s Duty Ia met Meyun Harper, her own blind spot, the one person whose future she can’t see and she had to learn to work around that. In Hellfire there’s a moment where Ia and her crew fail to fulfil one of her visions and the cost is great. She muddles along and finds a way to duck tape the frayed threads of time together. but the personal side of that failure and recovery is all but ignored. Instead, it’s used as a way for Ia to solidify the trust and faith of her crew. She isn’t shown to learn from her mistakes and plan for extra contingencies.

It could be said that the cost for any of her mistakes is too great, but compared to the extinction of the Milky Way? I really hope this is explored further, but I fear the author has moved on.

What ever happens, I hope the next book has more Meyun Harper in it.


Rating icon. A hairless cat is wearing a santa hat and a sour expression. On the hat reads: meh.

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6 Responses to Hellfire (Theirs Not To Reason Why 03) by Jean Johnson

  1. I wanted to like that series but the main premise (so a heroine who can predict the future and must be unfallible otherwise the collective sky will fall on the collective heads of all the sentient races) somehow chafed me too much. That and those boring military battles.

    • rameau says:

      This is the benefit of turning off my brain. Also, the fact that Ia is fallible and deals with probabilities helped. She’s rarely 100% sure some twist or turn is the absolute right move. Or a wrong one like in this book. Johnson writes a good fight, but if it’s nonstop battle it gets tiring. Like in this book.

  2. blodeuedd says:

    Oh pooh :/ But then I gave up after book 1

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