Book Review: Timothy Zahn’s Cobra Slave

Posted July 8, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Timothy Zahn’s Cobra Slave

Cobra Slave


Timothy Zahn

It is part of the , series and is a military science fiction in Paperback edition that was published by Baen Books on June 4, 2013 and has 288 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Cobra Guardian, Cobra Gamble, Judgment at Proteus, A Call to Duty, Cobra Outlaw

This is the first book in a new Cobra trilogy: Cobra Rebellion in the military science fiction series (Cobra Rebellion, 1; Cobra, 7). There’s a chronological listing of the book order on KD Did It, if you’re interested.

I’m so confused as to whether it deserves a “2” for the excessive melodrama or a “5” for my not being able to put this book down, so I reckon I’ll just subtract that “2” from the “5”.

My Take

Zahn makes me nuts! He writes the most incredible, heart-stopping stories that I can’t possibly stop reading once I crack that spine. Food? Hah. Bathroom? Double-hah. Phone calls?? Please, don’t make me laugh.

Worse though is when I get to the end of the story…and he just leaves me hanging there until the next installment!!! Arghhh!

Zahn creates the most heart-warming stories with homey characters, and it doesn’t matter if they’re human or alien. Zahn has the ability to make me fall in love with them. It’s underdogs and standing up for them, honor and trickery, battle and love.

And he has cooked the melodrama in Cobra Slave to the point that I am so furious (on two counts)! On the one hand, Zahn does get my dander going, and I want to leap up and fight: I know Shakespeare said “let’s kill all the lawyers”, but do you think he’d mind if we expanded this to include military leaders and politicians??

On the other hand, Zahn goes way too far with the attitude displayed by the Dominion of Man personnel. All the personnel. I can understand wanting to wring a reaction from the reader, but this is just…over the top ridiculous.

The DoM is showing up in the Cobra Worlds because they want help, and that’s how the story begins, with the DoM discussing how to be nice so the nice leaders will help them, but they almost immediately descend into their overbearing superiority and stomp all over everyone. They threaten, kidnap, kill, destroy, and all with that infuriatingly smug and superior attitude of theirs. Why on god’s green earth would they think anyone would want to help jerks like them? If I were one of the Cobra Worlds, I’d be more tempted to ally with my worst enemy!

Is this really the best the DoM could send/Zahn could write? Zahn doesn’t provide much in the way of clues as to why the DoM acts as they do. Do they truly only know how to browbeat, threaten, and lie? Nor does Zahn provide us with a good reason for the Cobra government to even accept their authority! Remember, we’re talking about a world that abandoned the Cobra Worlds 75 years ago?

This is weird. The way the Dominion of Man (DoM) captains are talking, it sounds as though the government, or at least the military, uses a patronage system.

WTF?? Reivaro’s excuse for taking over Yates’ factory is “your world is in danger and we won’t always be here to protect you”.

Yeahhh. I can’t believe he says that with a straight face. The Cobra Worlds won their war against the Troft, now the only danger they face is that from the DoM. Oooh, are the big bad Dominion Marines who keep showing off their scarily superior suits that badly in need of these backwoods, primitive, barbarian Cobras that they come here for help?

Oh, wow, I just love how Zahn tidies up all the possible loose threads as to why Jody can’t erase the Qasama coordinates. Intricate, frustrating, and terrifying.

If ever you want a reason to ease up on all those terrorism laws and the power of Homeland Security, just read Cobra Slave and wonder if this is where we’re heading!

Do not read if you have racing heart health problems!

The Story

The Broome family has managed to stave off a planets-wide takeover by an arch-enemy, so naturally, they’re on trial for treason. Worse, the federation of planets that dumped unwanted Cobras and then abandoned the Cobra Worlds 75 years ago to sink or swim — on their own — has suddenly shown up with three Dominion of Man warships.

Scheming, lying, and inciting, arrogant in their superior cobra-type suits, forcing martial law on these primitive barbarians, the Dominion of Man will destroy anyone, kidnap anyone, to get what they want…and the Brooms owe the Qasamans too much to allow it.

The Characters

The Broom family consists of Paul (he lost a leg in Cobra Gamble, Cobra War, 3) and his wife, Jin, who had a brain tumor in the same story; Lorne Broom is supposed to be patrolling in DeVegas province; Great-uncle Corwin and his wife, Thena, who is Jin’s aunt; and, Jody Broom is a scientist who was on Caelian when it was invaded.

Jonny Moreau was Lorne’s great-grandfather (see Cobra, 1). Jame Moreau on Earth had been Jonny’s brother and “on the fast track to becoming a member of the Dominion’s Central Committee”.

Governor-General Michaelo Chintawa is the leader of the Cobra Worlds. Nissa Gendreves is the pissy secondary assistant to the governor-general and is the functionary who has brought the treason charges.

DeVegas province
Lorne’s Cobra teammates from DeVegas who show up to help out are Badger Werle and Dillon de Portola; back home, there are Cobras Randall Sumara and Jarvic Whitherway. Cobras Bates, Janko, and Harper are murdered by the Marines. Ishikuma is their Cobra commandant; Commandant Dreysler is supreme Cobra commander on Aventine. Eion Yates is a wealthy DeVegas industrialist who is about to lose his manufacturing plant. Lester Kalhandra, a failed Cobra, is charged with intercepting Paul and Jin Broom. Mary McDougal is mayor of Bitter Creek.

Marine Sergeant Singal Khahar and Marine Second Chimm show up to drag Lorne back, numerous times. On all sorts of trumped up demands.

Merrick and Anya
Commander Ukuthi‘s (he’s fourth demesne heir to the Balin’ekha’spmi demesne) plans to infiltrate Merrick onto Anya Winghunter‘s homeworld (another lost DoM colony) which is ruled by the Drim’hco’plai demesne blew up, and now Merrick Broom Hopekeeper, Paul and Jin’s oldest son, has ended up on a Troft slave ship — it’s a parallel plot. Dyre Woodsplitter is a fellow slave and a bullying jerk. He’s also Anya’s betrothed. Leif and Katla Streamjumper and their daughter, Gina, will be walking with them and Ville Dreamsinger to return to Anya’s home village, Gangari. Henson Hillclimber seems to be the mayor.

Caelian is the vicious planet that challenged its settlers and was the focus for the second trilogy, Cobra Wars. Governor Rom Uy has recovered from the injuries he suffered in Cobra Gamble; Elssa is his practical wife. Cobras on Caelian include Harli, the governor’s son; Kemp; Smitty; Propescu; Tammling; and, Jameson Williams.

Moffren Omnathi, a Qasaman, is on Caelian. He is a senior advisor to the Shahni and was once the Cobra Worlds’ most ingenious opponent. Siraj Akim is a Djinn commander while Ifrit Kaml Ghushtre, Ifrit Nisti, and Ifrit Kaza are Djinn warriors. Rashida Vil is one of the Tlossies. Turns out Qasama is a lost Dominion colony; don’t expect that to bring a tear to the DoM’s eye, though.

The Dominion of Man
The Dominion of Man is the Cobra Worlds’ home worlds. Fellow humans. Only, the intervening years seem to have stripped humanity from them. Colonel Milorad Reivaro is a bullying jerk. Commodore Rubo Santores is right up there with him.

Captain Barrington Jame Moreau is in charge of the cruiser Dorian; he’s also a Moreau from the Dominion of Man — Jin’s second cousin to be exact. Lieutenant Cottros Meekan is his aide, and Commander Ling Garrett is another of his officers.

Captain Joshti Lij Tulu commands the Algonquin and has control of the MindsEye, a machine that will examine every thought, image, or experience in a person’s brain. The faster it’s used, the more damage to a person’s brain. You can imagine how careful Tulu will be! Lieutenant Commander Tristan Tamu takes a courier ship, the Squire to Caelian to arrest the governor.

Supposedly, the Troft are the enemy…I’d be putting the Dominion of Man in here too…
Troft is a rather generic term for a number of different demesnes—think of it as Troft equaling Earthling and a demesne equaling a country. The Tlossies are Troft on the side of the Cobra Worlds. The Tua’lanek’zia hired the Drim’hco’plai and the Balin’ekha’spmi among others to invade Qasama and the Cobra Worlds in Cobra Wars. Barrington is headed to the Hoibe’ryi’sarai Troft demesne to drag Jody back.

Iris is the automated surgical machinery that can churn out a Cobra warrior—the Integrated Structural Implantation System created by Dr. Glass Croi and Ingidi-inhiliziyo, a.k.a., Warrior, is the second heir of the Tlos’khin’fahi.

The Cover and Title

The cover is gorgeous with its photo-quality image of space ships approaching the planet. It’s not very Baen-like…

The title says it all, the Dominion of Man sees the enhanced soldiers as Cobra Slaves.