Series: The Palladium Wars (#3)
Genre: Space Opera/Military SF
Publication Date: 10/08/2021
In the wake of the nuclear attack on Rhodian soil, the Alliance clamps down on the Gretians. It is all in the name of security, but are they playing directly into the hands of the Gretian radicals who call themselves Odin’s Wolves . . ?
Citadel marks my tenth Marko Kloos novel, and with these books he’s proven himself a consistently strong writer. Yes, his novels may be on the shorter side, but he releases them quickly (two this year), and they’re all of a high quality. Citadel might even be his strongest yet. An impressive feat from a man with two ongoing series that are both high up in my estimation.
One of the potential downsides of a short book, especially one that has four PoV characters, each with their own story-line, is that they can feel rushed. That’s not an issue here. If anything, the pacing is rather sedate for a military SF novel. Aden still feels like the main character, but with an equal number of chapters for each of the characters, it’s a feeling that’s less strong now than it was at the start of the series. he’s still the most directly involved in the most major events, but now the rest of the cast are muscling in on the action.
And that’s the weird thing about this series. Three books in, and I’m still not entirely sure what the main plot is. There’s no clear trajectory for the road ahead. But this doesn’t bother me as much as I expected it would. I’m very much a plot-driven reader, but The Palladium Wars is showing a new way to handle plotting. This doesn’t have traditional novel structures like most series. in fact, the best thing I can compare it to is a serialised TV show. Each book has a problem that is faced and resolved, but it all leads into the next one. There are no cliffhangers as such, but rather natural pauses in the story. Really, all it needs is some opening credits and this series would translate brilliantly to the screen.
Though I don’t know where this series is headed (partially the result of not knowing how many books are planned), Citadel does move things forward. Characters continue to cross over from one arc to another, and the situation both in space and on Gretia grows increasingly tense. Although there is a lot of action, it’s a nice change to have a military-themed story that isn’t wholly focused on fighting a war. The aftermath of the war is just as interesting, and that’s something a lot of books forget about. Kloos’ experience in the military clearly informs every scene, and that lends an edge of realism. He doesn’t shy away from the brutality of conflict, but he doesn’t revel in it either. There are no glorious charges here. Only pain and paperwork.
When your only real complaint about a series is that you don’t know how long it will be, you know you’re onto a winner, and if Citadel is the new standard, then I hope this series has a long way to go yet.