Relevant posts: The High Ground
I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
Scholarship student Thracius “Tracy” Belmanor and Princess Mercedes de Arango have graduated from the High Ground and becomes officers in the Orden de la Estrella. Stung by Mercedes’ choice of Beauregard “Boho” Cullen as her consort, Tracy is glad that they are posted on battleships light years apart, but soon finds that without her protection he is nothing but a target. Meanwhile, Mercedes’ posting has its own challenges, not least her unfaithful husband.
Both young officers find themselves part of forces “assimilations” of settlers on Hidden Worlds, which lead them to doubt the intentions of the Solar League. And when Tracy witnesses an horrific event that threatens the fragile human and alien peace, Mercedes must decide where her loyalties truly lie. . .
The second novel in The Imperial Saga, In Evil Times focuses on Tracy Belmanor and Princess Mercedes de Arango a few years after the events of The High Ground, with both now having graduated from the military school. No longer working alongside Mercedes, Tracy begins to understand how much her position helped him to progress as his station and class are frequently used against him by those far better off than him, not taking into consideration his sacrifices and skills from the High Ground. As both of them work their way through their time aboard their respective battleships, they both become embroiled in situations that could greatly affect the relationships between humans and aliens.
Tracy and Mercedes have come far since the incident within the High Ground, both graduating exceptionally well and being stationed aboard battleships that become part of the action. However, it becomes clear that the relationship between the two has drastically changed since the ending of The High Ground – something that we began to see towards the end of that novel but becomes the backbone of their relationship within In Evil Times. What used to be a relationship that flourished off of each individual, has now become one of animosity and, in some respects, hatred due to their differences and the way events have panned out. In Evil Times found my stance towards Tracy drastically changing. I thoroughly enjoyed him as a character in The High Ground and really grew to like him however, as In Evil Times progressed and Tracy’s lower class background comes back to bite him around every corner, you begin to see his characteristics change – and not for the better. This change in personality really altered my perceptions of him, but highlighted how far Tracy had fallen and been affected by everything around him since his graduation. As well as that, the way in which Mercedes responds to Tracy and his actions – though clearly understandable due to her formidable position as the heir to the Solar League – really makes you question whether their friendship can be repaired, or if it has gone too far.
Snodgrass branches out within In Evil Times by bringing in issues that we had not previously seen such as the Hidden Worlds, and finally bringing in scenes and issues regarding the much mentioned Cara’ot genetic manipulation. With these situations being brought into the story, we begin to gain a better understanding of the Solar League and how they run, as well as why people have gone/will go against them from time to time. It also brings up the question of right and wrong, what should be covered up, and what should be revealed as things begin to unravel and spiral out of control. As well as this, we also get to gain an understanding of life aboard the battleships and how rules and guidelines are frequently gone against, as well as the camaraderie between the officers.
I definitely feel like In Evil Times developed exceptionally on events within The High Ground, though I do find myself slightly annoyed at the way in which Tracy declines and how that makes me feel towards him – though I can understand the reasoning behind it. The writing style has definitely improved since the first novel and certainly brings in issues and world-building elements that helped to greatly enhance the narrative and progress it forward. It is definitely one to read if you are into military sci-fi and looking for something a bit different.