Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Rules of Conflict
Kristine Smith
HarperCollins EOS Books, 352 pages

Rules of Conflict
Kristine Smith
Kristine Smith was born in Buffalo, New York, and grew up in Florida. She earned her B.S. in Chemistry from the University of South Florida. She has spent most of her working career in manufacturing, research and development, and currently works for a large pharmaceutical manufacturer. When she isn't working or writing, she reads, plays golf, and roots for the Cubs and the Dolphins.

Rules of Conflict is the sequel to Smith's first novel, Code of Conduct. The third book in the series, Law of Survival, is currently scheduled for mid-2001.

Kristine Smith Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Rules of Conflict
SF Site Review: Code of Conduct

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Donna McMahon

18 years before Rules of Conflict opens, Captain Jani Kilian was caught up in a bloody uprising on the planet Shera, and in the chaos she was forced to kill her corrupt commanding officer. Lacking witnesses and evidence, she deserted the military and went underground to avoid court martial. But now her failing health has forced her to seek medical treatment, and the clinic immediately identifies Jani because she is unique. Two decades ago a surgeon added alien genetic material to her body and she is hybridizing -- a process that is also killing her.

Hauled back to Earth again, Jani is immediately caught up in the same evolving political mess she fled almost two decades before. To complicate matters, Jani's former alien mentor, Nema, is on Earth negotiating a treaty, and he wants Jani added to the negotiation team. She trained on Shera in idomeni language and customs and is one of the most qualified experts available -- except for the small matter that the military believes her a traitor.

This is a very brief sampling of an enormously complex, intense plot, populated by many characters (too many of them viewpoint characters), and further complicated by Kristine Smith's ambitious attempt to tell two stories simultaneously -- the current tale, and the background story from 18 years previous.

Personally I found the convolutions of this plot were far more detailed than I cared to follow and I started skimming in places, but readers who like a challenging political thriller are likely to enjoy this book very much. Smith successfully conveys the immense complexity of a situation involving many political and military players -- all with their own agendas and goals -- and she is especially acute in her understanding of office politics.

Another strength of this book is the alien race, the idomeni. Smith creates aliens who are similar to humans, yet have an odd, complex and very distinct culture. Finally, Jani is a strong, credible protagonist, with a solid cast of well drawn characters behind her.

This was an easier book to admire than to like; still I recommend it.

Copyright © 2002 Donna McMahon

Donna McMahon discovered science fiction in high school and fandom in 1977, and never recovered. Dance of Knives, her first novel, was published by Tor in May, 2001, and her book reviews won an Aurora Award the same month. She likes to review books first as a reader (Was this a Good Read? Did I get my money's worth?) and second as a writer (What makes this book succeed/fail as a genre novel?). You can visit her website at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide