96 points, 5 STARS!
Alert: Complete and unabashed gushing ahead
The Prophet of a Thousand Years, Bloody Mary, Ia. All names for the most powerful precog who will save the galaxy in 300 years through her prophecies. This is the start of her tale. Ia enlists in the Terran United Planets military marine corps under the guise of being just another soldier with two goals: become the best soldier she can be and don’t get caught.
“I still feel like I’m going to pass out, here.”
“Permission still denied, Private,” Ia quipped. “Besides, Marines don’t faint. We engage the floor in mortal combat.”
Full disclosure: this may be my favourite series, though sometimes it is hard for me to tell. This is the fourth time I am reading through this series and the wonder, amazement, despair, and love hasn’t at all diminished within me. My words alone cannot convey just what I feel for this series, because I am inadequate at using them. I’ve started making this the first series I read of the year though, due to how much I love it, because I want to start the year right.
I love Ia. Gods, she is just a kid when this series starts. It is so hard to remember that Ia is only 18-19 throughout the entirety of this book, save the prologue where she is 15. Ia’s sense of duty makes her appear older than she is. She is absolutely determined to see that things turn out the right way in the end. It doesn’t matter what she has to do to make it happen, the future will be saved. She is incredibly empathetic, which is part of the reason why she is just so driven.
Ia is also horrifically overpowered.
Yet, despite this fact, I love the way she uses them. Ia is the only one to have anything even resembling the ability to tell the future, though there are other clairvoyants. Ia is different in that she sees every possibility, not just the most likely. And she has to keep this very, very secret until the time is right to reveal who she is. We’re introduced to Ia when she has figured out some of her powers, but not all. She is still learning to read the probabilities and it makes for an amazing duality of knowing just enough to get her into trouble. These abilities shaped Ia into the marvelous person she is at the start of A Soldier’s Duty, but they put the weight of the galaxy on her shoulders.
A Soldier’s Duty is basically split into two parts: basic training and Ia’s first posting.
Basic training should probably be the most boring thing in the entire world to me. The first time I read this, once I figured out she was going into basic, I was dreading reading it and was hoping it would get over quickly (spoiler: it doesn’t, it is actually half the book). In all my previous experience with myself, this should never had held any appeal to me. Yet….I loved almost everything to do with it. It was a long period of the book where not a lot happens except training, but it was so good to read and it sets up the rest so well.
Ia herself is what makes this period of the book as well as every other part to the series. Everything to do with Ia, I want to know more about. I love how Ia starts off just as green behind the ears as everyone else, despite everything she knows and everything she has seen in the time streams. I love how she grows over the course of her training, how she comes into herself more and more. She becomes more confident. There were still a few moments that bore me nearly to tears, though. Especially since this was the fourth time reading some of these infodumps.
And then, in the second half of the book, Ia grows even further into herself and her powers during her first posting. The second half of the book is Ia knowing everything, but at the same time knowing nothing. I love how she is able to plan everything that is happening, so we get a glimpse of what is to come before it happens, and then we see the full event. I love how she finds that even though she is able to see everything, she has no real life experience to see how things will actually play out. Even the prophet of a thousand years can be blindsided by a low probability chance!
I also love how we as readers don’t know much of anything that is going on. We’re in the dark much more so than Ia is. We learn things as they become important, but Ia herself has known things for years prior to the events playing out on the screen. And this is really the only way to tell this story. Ia says as much herself.
The lead up to the end of the first book is just absolutely perfect. You can feel the stress chapters away as we get closer and closer to what is going to happen. Ia doesn’t really want it to happen. However, she knows there is no choice but to have events play out as they should, as they must. And it is the first real glimpse we as readers get to just how much she has planned in advance. Everything in the beginning of the book was just warm up.
I just love these books.