The Reckoning bridges the action from the previous Calliope books, and with some bombshell revelations, sets up the story for an exciting continuation.
Knowing the successful space battle against the aliens was not the last, Calliope Morrigan and her inner circle immediately begin preparing for the next onslaught. Humanity needs to unite and harness the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their best brightest engineers and scientists to develop defenses and offensive measures against their much more technologically advanced enemy. To this end, Calliope, Arn, Eylana, and Jared set off on a recruiting tour of what is left of Europe and the Soviet Union. For the most part, their requests for help fall on deaf ears, but they encounter some success by trading technology for technology. When Calliope must return to space, the rumor of a secret underground particle accelerator research facility takes Arn, Eylana, and two of her sisters to the desert near the dried-up Aral Sea. But Sirchan Li, thinking that Calliope is still with the group, has a surprise waiting for them.
Back on the Factory Asteroid, Jake has been trying to communicate with the alien “Greens” captured during the assault on Calliope’s Cannon Asteroid and making very little headway. Behind the scenes, Calliope is working on a Mars terraforming project. She has Jared shuttling the new spaceships that Arn constructed on Earth to the Lunar Station and taking vast amounts of seawater and their accompanying macroinvertebrates from the White Sea in Mars’ Mariner Valley when he comes.
Construction of Eylana’s newly redesigned and upgraded stealth drones is approaching completion and are soon ready to be deployed around Jupiter, its moon, and the various asteroid belts in the sections of space the aliens are suspected to be hidden. The mission to place the drones to spy and give an early warning of an alien assault will require three experienced pilots. With Eylana and Jake seeding the moons and asteroid belts, Calliope takes on the most dangerous flight herself: placing the stealth drones right in the middle of the alien fleet.
The Reckoning is the third book in the excellent SciFi series, Calliope, by author Scott Mari. In this continuation of Calliope Morrigan’s story and her fight against the aliens, the Larvaltics, an aggressive, lizard-like race of creatures that killed her parents and almost destroyed the Earth. The book’s action picks up after the aliens’ defeat on Calliope’s Cannon Asteroid base near Jupiter, where the aliens were discovered building up their space fleet by the thousands. Returning to Earth and hailed as the savior of humankind, she and her circle of like-minded coworkers meet with the recovering countries’ leaders, including the U.S., to solicit their assistance in preparing for the next alien assault.
The first third of the book details their meetings in Europe and Russia looking for support, and I found it slow-going, somewhat vague, and wandering. It felt like the characters really had no plan. However, the action really explodes when the quartet separates with Calliope returning to direct her numerous ongoing projects in space, Jared shuttling the new Earth-made spacecraft and their pilots to the Lunar Station, Eylana looking for her mother and sisters, and accompanying Arn Lasserman to chase down a secret underground particle accelerator laboratory rumored to be at the abandoned Baikonur Cosmodrome, the Soviet version of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Scott Mari writes exciting action sequences like no other; they are dynamite, and there are plenty from this point forward.
Calliope’s work on her Mars terraforming project holds some interest, as does the continuing work she and Parker are doing on the Lunar Station. Understandably, she’s under a lot of pressure juggling so much, and her interactions with others such as Jake and Parker suffer. But as I mentioned, I felt it was understandable and explained. I wasn’t a fan of her intimacy with Jake, though, even with the explanation. By this, the third book, I must be already too invested in her relationship with Jared for this to be my cup of tea.
I enjoyed that we get some of the story from the aliens’ point-of-view in this volume. Things are not completely straightforward in their world, and the reader should be prepared for some BIG surprises to be revealed.
The Reckoning is a good bridge between the big action that occurred in book two, The Engines of War, and what is being set up for the next book in the series; it is not a standalone novel. Readers who enjoy character-driven SciFi action adventures should definitely give this series some attention, starting with book one, Calliope. I specifically recommend The Reckoning to readers who enjoyed the previous two Calliope novels.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.