Rath’s Gambit (The Janus Group, Book 2), by Piers Platt
Rath’s Reckoning (The Janus Group, Book 3), by Piers Platt
Rath’s Trial (Janus Group, Book 4), by Piers Platt
Rath’s Rebellion (Janus Group, Book 5), by Piers Platt
Rath’s Redemption (Janus Group, Book 6), by Piers Platt
I don’t always go on a book binge, but after a sequence of “meh” books I needed a recharge. Once in awhile a reader needs some brain candy, a dip into a book or series that can reinvigorate the reading urge with a favorite genre, author, or a reread of a favorite.
I reviewed the first volume in this Piers Platt series (Rath’s Deception) last month. A friend read it and the next two books based on my review and I held off from reading them so that I wouldn’t cause any spoilers. Plus I enjoy feedback from people who’ve read a book I review to learn if we saw the same things.
I think he and I enjoyed the same things in these books. They’re not high philosophy or great drama. They’re just barnstorming space operas with fun characters and plenty of action. In addition, because of the Janus Group operatives’ ability to change facial shape and hair color at will (implants), the books are reminiscent of the original Mission Impossible TV series in which much of the plots had to do with elaborate disguises to infiltrate evil enterprises.
Rather than burden you with five new blog entries I decided to do one on my splurge, with a look at the basic story arc followed by a brief synopsis of each book.
The basics and arc of the series
In the first volume we’re introduced to Rath, a teen from a poor neighborhood and a broken home. After his brother’s killing by a gang a policeman offers Rath a way to join a group that is a subject of rumor: The Janus Group. This mysterious corporation reputedly takes in teens to train them as high-paid assassins. They offer a “50/50” contract. Do 50 killings on the group’s terms and be released from the contract with 50% of the proceeds from all the contracts. Rath signs up, is trained, and becomes 621, an assassin for hire.
Near the end of his contract Rath learns a secret from a female assassin who has run away from Janus. Giving the money to the assassins at the end of the contract would hurt the bottom line. Instead, Janus just kills them and keeps the cash. Rath, with her help, manages a perfect escape.
Through the remainder of the series Rath will be on the run. It would be a tossup as to the group offering the greatest danger, assassins from Janus or the police. He will be caught by the police, put on trial, and risk being sentenced to death. The female operative who first saved him will collect other assassins to begin a rival corporation offering espionage services to the government. Rath will learn that a prominent senator is part of a trio of senators who have used the services of Janus to enrich themselves and control the direction of the government. The senator will hide his assistant/girlfriend on the training planet for Janus to prevent her being an assassination target. The espionage group will discover that a religious cult is working with a planet within the government to form a takeover. A cryogenically preserved revolutionary will be brought back to consciousness to form a revolt and Rath will join them.
This saga stretches over the six book series. The first book is the longest and is currently available free on Kindle. The remaining books are fast-paced and shorter reads. The books are surprisingly even in quality. If any could be said to flag a little it might be Rath’s Trial, but that is only by a little. All the books have innovative plots, well-written action, and creative solutions.
Rath has completed his last job (a pretty creative killing of a senator), has escaped Janus, and is now on the run. Now he’s trying to find the female killer, Paisan, who opened his eyes to the Janus threat and helped in his escape, dodging police and assassins the whole way. Eventually they reunite and decide to work together to destroy Janus and collect what’s owed to them.
Janus’ search for Rath and Paisan has intensified now that it’s clear they plan on exposing the group. They look to a policeman who Rath held captive in the first book to help them investigate the group. Rath is feeling a horrible sense of guilt for the assassinations he performed, even knowing that Janus had the power to kill him with the touch of a button if he refused a contract. He makes a pact with the policeman, offering himself in return for help.
Rath and Paisan have managed to pull a fortune out of Janus. Rath is still desolate over his crimes. Paisan’s espionage corporation has its first assignment of keeping an eye on a planet that his increasing its military activity. Rath surrenders himself for arrest and is put on trial. Learning that Paisan is in danger he escapes to rescue her. Rath also learns that a new player has put a price on his head, and all of them bear a distinctive mark.
Rath is recruited by an ancient and notorious revolutionary. This is the only “political” book of the series. Many of the demands of the revolutionaries are things heard today. But then, as mentioned elsewhere, science fiction is placed in the future but reflects on the present. Destroy the oligarchy, put power back in the hands of the common people, make education affordable for all. A new character investigates a cult that seems to have a hypnotic power over its members. A new weapon could change the balance of power throughout the federated planets.
Due to his heroism during the invasion of the government, Rath is generally seen as a hero. Despite that, he agrees to return to his sentencing. Financially and emotionally Rath finds a path to redeem himself and come closer to clearing his conscience.
As mentioned above, all the books are so filled with action that they seem to fly by. Because of his determination, loyalty, and problem solving Rath is a delightful character to follow. Even as an assassin, with the author making the reader aware of his inner conflicts, it’s easy to root for him and his survival. Rath ends up in danger, accidentally and intentionally, throughout the series so there’s a constant building of tension and relief in every book. It’s not Chekhov but it’s a lot of fun and helped re-energize my love for reading after a chunk of so-so books.