Book Review: Peacemaker

Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres, Peacemaker #1

Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park - the world's last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, but her bosses have brought out a hotshot cowboy to help her catch some drug runners who are affecting tourism. She senses the company is holding something back from her, and she's not keen on working with an outsider like Nate Sixkiller.

When an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. Dead bodies start piling up around her, so she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner, U.S. Marshall Nate Sixkiller, are standing in its path...

Earlier this year I saw the release list of Angry Robots for 2014 and one title directly caught my eye, Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres. One thing that is becoming more and more to show in the fantasy fiction is writing crossovers, this can be a tricky bit but I am always in for when authors try to do something new and Peacemaker really had this to offer. The synopsis of the book already reveals something stating the words megacity which indicates something of a near future setting taken together with the cover of the book, flying cars etc, but then also the mentioning of cowboys, you know, I am still a guy, how cool is that! Also after some research I found that Marianne de Pierres is an acclaimed writer and with her other books she has been nominated often and won awards as well. So basically with this, Peacemaker, couldn't turn out wrong. And it didn't, Marianne de Pierres has created an interesting new series with Peacemaker, one that will keep you intrigued from start to finish. 

The story of Peacemaker takes place in the near future, Earth has been changed drastically and the only peaces of nature you can get to enjoyed are set forth in parks. One of those parks is the Birrimun Park, where Virgin Jackson, our main protagonist has a job as a park ranger. Virgin is clearly devoted to keep the Birrimun Park in tip top shape but slowly American tourist custom start to encroach on this Australian park. Not really a custom though, but a few pages into the story there is a drug bust in the park and the authorities call into reinforcements for Virgin, a U.S. Marshall who goes by the name of Nate Sixkiller, back in the U.S. he has quite the reputation, being the son of an legendary Indian police officer. However one her way to picking up Nate, Virgin is attack and left with a wound that won't stop bleeding. This is the point where in the story of Peacemaker starts to pick up pace. Luckily for Virgin, with Nate around the corner her bleeding can be stopped. But why couldn't she stop bleeding herself? Just within these few pages Marianne de Pierres raises many question surrounding her storyline and they all come down to this, what is going on the in the park and more importantly with Virgin. Nate has most of the answers for Virgin but their relation is utterly precarious, Virgin isn't one to let someone easily into her life and Nate as nice as he tries to be might just do too much... Where the beginning of the story of Peacemaker shows everything a bit in the natural line, drug busting in the Birrimun Park, it soon turns into the supernatural urban fantasy lines; because Virgin starts to see Aquila - her Eagle Familiar, yes I know pretty weird but all good stuff! Trust me. 

You have stubborn character and you have stubborn character and you have Virgin Jackson. I really pity the man who ever winds up with her. But yes she does make up for a funny and interesting protagonist! From the introduction onwards you get to learn Virgin as one headstrong character, one that pushes her opinion through everyone and everything. If you want her as a friend you have to win her trust, this probably owed to the strange death of her father and not having ever known her mother, though this is far from easily achieved but once you have it you have it forever. It was fun to read to see how fast and snappy Virgin can be and this is often shown in the dialogues between the characters of the book, at certain points Virgin can be serious down to business and sharp but on the other side witty, quick and funny, this added a great more livelihood to her character than just being a serious pain in the ass. Quite on the opposite side of Virgin stand the mysterious U.S. Marshall Nate Sixkiller, ok so you're a famed and well respected Marshall, wearing a gun and called Sixkiller, what cooler than that? I enjoyed reading about Nate's character, a lot of the background information surrounding his character are kept behind and only steadily along the way more hints of his role in the story are being dropped and why he is crucial to the storyline. Another addition to the storyline is Heart Williams who has an complicated relation with Virgin, well actually not that complicated more just for several benefits... Heart works as a stripper but does seem to have his eyes set on Virgin and wants perhaps more from their relation than just the occasional visit. These three characters, Virgin, Nate and Heart do make up the most of the story and Marianne de Pierres 

Next to the mysterious and interesting characters that Marianne de Pierres introduces, she also creates a very rich world in the story of Peacemaker. I already mentioned that Peacemaker is a genre mash-up of science fiction, fantasy and hints of urban fantasy. Each of these genres does have their own set of rules and a bit of the standard elements that you can come to expect, with such a mash-up of genres it can be a daunting task just to get the ratio's right, and this is something that Marianne de Pierres managed to do just right. From the beginning of the story you are confronted with several aspects of the world, like the near futuristic setting of the book, however the influence of the tech aspect in science fiction there are enough hints towards a more standard fantasy setting especially when looking to some of the history of the characters. The urban fantasy setting comes directly from the supernatural that has paid a visit to the main protagonist Virgin Jackson. With creating just the right setting Marianne de Pierres has created a world with a lot of questions and keeps you wanting to read on and on just to discover what happens next, highly addicted. 

The ending of the Peacemaker was very unexpected to me, yes we learned more about some specific persons in the life of Virgin and that her father was involved in something big and that his death wasn't as it was described by the authorities. But in the last few chapters of the book Marianne de Pierres really introduces some major plot twists that I hadn't seen coming. These twists and turns will give a great entry into the sequel, they will definitely leave you wanting more. 

With Peacemaker, Marianne de Pierres has created a very cool and fresh introduction into both the science fiction, fantasy and urban fantasy genres. I have read a few genre mash-ups/hybrid before but none featuring these elements. I have been wanting to read more of the western style of fantasy and I am more than satisfied on this part with what I got in Peacemaker. Peacemaker is in essence a mix of western and science fiction that goes towards the urban fantasy. Now you might think how can this all work together in a western setting? Just read this book and you will find you just how deftly Marianne de Pierres has woven them together. I have to be honest that I did have some reservations from the beginning but I needn't have to worry at all, Marianne de Pierres really shows that she has some great skills when it comes down to both writing in an addictive way and creating an engaging environment. Last and definitely not lately are the characters that you get to learn in Peacemaker, they are kept mostly on a need to know basis, a lot of the personalities and character histories are only learned along the way and what you need at that moment. With this a certain mysterious air is created around them, great stuff right there. Also this really leaves you wanting to find out just what happens next, the sequel can't come soon enough! Peacemaker is a unique book and will definitely appeal to fans of a many type of different genres.


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