by Timothy Zahn
Genres: Military Science Fiction
Second in the Cobra Rebellion military sci-fi subseries (eighth in the overall Cobra series) and revolving around the Broom family and their fellow Cobras. The focus is spread out over the four subplots.
This was an irritating read, and I see it as a bridge novel in four parts: events on Aventine which are spread out between the Cobras and Aventinians against the Dominion of Man; the mission of Merrick Broom “Hopekeeper” and his fellow “slave”, Anya; Jody’s race for Qasama; and, Captain Barrington’s mission to reach Qasama.
It’s honor versus the unscrupulous as the main theme with eruptions of betrayal and friendship. Zahn definitely goes overboard on making the antagonists villains you can’t help but hate with a passion. You’d never mistake the Dominion of Man for having Star Trek-like ethics. They’ll lie, cheat, steal, and destroy to get what they want. They don’t care who they hurt. I gotta wonder if Santores actually believes the lies he’s spouting?
Zahn has created a nasty bit of subplot within the DoM navy with their patronage system. What a way to run a command?! It’s complications contribute to making the good guys in this seem very amateurish, especially in their planning. It would make me wonder how they managed so far…if I hadn’t been reading the series all along.
It does help that Cobra Outlaw uses third-person omniscient for a point-of-view, as it provides you with access to everyone’s thoughts.
Zahn has definitely left me wondering what’s going on and where he’ll take it, as this story mostly huddles everyone together on their particular path and is setting them up for whatever comes along in book 3. I think this is the first Zahn I’ve been disappointed in.
Paul Broom is a prisoner of the Dominion of Man who intend to force him to submit to the MindsEye. They want that location, for they see it as the only option to save themselves.
Yet more Brooms are leading rebellions of one sort or another: Lorne and Jin on Aventine; Merrick, in hand with Anya, is hunting answers on Muninn as he eludes the slavers they escaped; Jody is aboard the captured Squire racing to warn Qasama; and, Captain Barrington is battling his own people.
The Cobra Worlds are…
…five isolated worlds of humans, kicked out of the Dominion of Man and sent to the farthest reaches of the universe centuries ago.
…the home of the Broom family where Chintawa is governor-general. Capitalia is a traitorous city on the planet. Archway was where the “riot” took place.
Lorne Moreau Broom is in hiding in DeVegas province on Aventine with his mother, Jasmine “Jin“. His father, Paul Broom, is being held by the invading commander and threatened with a brain wash. Corwin Moreau, a former governor whose hobby is ceramics, is married to Thena. Jonny Moreau had been their great-grandfather, one of the original Cobras (Cobra, 1). Daulo Sammon had been a friend of Jody’s mother’s.
Nissa Gendreves has taken power by the bit. Eion Yates is an economic and political powerhouse whose factory, Yates Fabrications, has just been taken by DoM. Jake Sedgley is a snarly fisherman. Dushan Matavuli is a big rancher in DeVegas; Nick is his adventurous oldest son.
Fred, Ambrose, Tommy, Jake, Gary, and Kath are officemates in Archway. Quill runs Jonquil’s, one of their favorite restaurants. James Hobwell is an executive producer at Polestar Productions; the popular Anna Villager is one of their programs. Jennie Sider is the chief makeup artist.
Fellow Cobras include…
…Badger “Badj” Werle, Brandeis “Kicker” Pierce, and Dillon de Portola. Cobra Commandant Yoshio Ishikuma is in charge of Lorne Broom’s district.
…allied with the Cobra Worlds and has a deadly environment. The planet was the focus of the subseries, Cobra War. Rom Uy is the governor.
…a planet whose origins were forgotten, a lost DoM colony. Moffren Omnathi is Shahni of the planet’s people. First Hope Hospital is in Azras.
On board the Squire, Jody Moreau Broom is part of the “crew” under Moffren Omnathi. The others include Ifrit Ghushtre, Ghofl Khatir, and Djinni Nisti who are Qasaman Cobras; Kemp and Smitty, who are Caelians; and, Rashida Vil, a Qasaman pilot-translator who evolved into a warrior.
The Dominion of Man (DoM) is…
…home to the original Earth. I think the Dome is their central government or the military command. A fleet consisting of Algonquin and her courier ship, Squire; Falcon; Megalith; Hermes; and, Dorian are under the duplicitous Commodore Rubo Santores, who arrived at Aventine in Cobra Slave, 7. Dominion Marines have more technically advanced Cobra-type enhancements.
Santores endorses the arrogant Colonel Reivaro‘s moves when he choreographed the slaughter in Archway (Cobra Slave) Captain Lij Tulu commands the Algonquin, a warship. MindsEye is a machine that sifts through the brain, taking its memories, with the possibility of destroying it. Commander Tamu captains the Squire which was taken in Cobra Slave. Lieutenant Commander Vothra is in command of the Hermes, a courier ship.
Captain Barrington Moreau commands the war cruiser Dorian and is planning to rendezvous with Ukuthi. Commander Ling Garrett is the first officer. Kusari is the engineering officer; Filho is weapons officer; Castenello is the antagonistic tactical officer who knows better about everything; Lancaster is the chief surgeon; and, Lieutenant Cottros Meekan is Barrington’s aide.
…aliens who are divided into demesnes — think “country”. Flicker nets are a typical weapon. Some of the demesnes include Balin’ekha’spmi (Balin), Hoibe’ryi’sarai (Hoibie), Drim’hco’plai (Drim), and Kreil’laa’misar. Commander Ukuthi is the fourth demesne heir to the Balin’ekha’spmi and has sent Merrick and Anya to Muninn. He seems to be playing both ends.
…a lost DoM planet taken over by the Drim where Merrick Moreau Hopekeeper has gone undercover as a Troft slave with Anya Winghunter. Then Kjoic, a Troft slave master, turns up. Leif and Katla Streamjumper and their daughter, Gina, were fellow slaves. Henson Hillclimber had been a referee in Gangari.
…the village on Muninn where testing and chemical studies are being done. Alexis Tucker/Turner Woolmaster has a ranch. Helga Herbseeker and Ludolf Treetapper are Anya’s parents who abandoned her to the slavers at Gangari. “Nicolai Hidetanner” will be Merrick’s alias for the Games. Dyre Woodsplitter, Anya’s bully of a betrothed, and Emil Grainplanter are some of the fighters. Red Patch is one of the drugs the Troft use.
Cobras are enhanced weapons of war built onto/into the human body. Isis, the Integrated Structural Implantation System created by Dr. Glas Croi, an Aventinian robotics developer, is the automated surgical machinery that can churn out a Cobra warrior. Bersarkis is a drug made from bersark, a native plant that makes you go crazy from simple contact.
The Cover and Title
The background of the cover is dark with a deadly looking Dorian firing at smaller, attacking Troft ships. The author’s name is in white at the bottom while the series information is in a deep orange at the top with the much bigger title just below it: the first part of the title is in a radiating gradient of yellow to orange while the second part is in a deep yellow and tucked under the “cobr”.
The title is a natural progression after Cobra Slave, for the whole Broom family is the Cobra Outlaw.