Dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics, and rogue AI collide in this epic space opera by award-winning author Megan O'Keefe.
Sanda and Biran Greeve were siblings destined for greatness. A high-flying sergeant, Sanda has the skills to take down any enemy combatant. Biran is a savvy politician who aims to use his new political position to prevent conflict from escalating to total destruction.
However, on a routine maneuver, Sanda loses consciousness when her gunship is blown out of the sky. Instead of finding herself in friendly hands, she awakens 230 years later on a deserted enemy warship controlled by an AI who calls himself Bero. The war is lost. The star system is dead. Ada Prime and its rival Icarion have wiped each other from the universe.
Now, separated by time and space, Sanda and Biran must fight to put things right.
The book cover below includes alt-text.
This review covers the whole trilogy. You can see the cover of the first novel in the series, Velocity Weapon above.
There are several point of view characters in the series, and all of them are well-developed. There are also a few AI characters, and an entity the nature of which I won't disclose because of spoilers. What I really liked about the trilogy was how many women taking prominent positions and influencing the story there were. Heroes, villains, criminals, many of them morally grey. There are also LGBTQ+ characters and relationships, and one of the key characters in non-binary. The author's take on AI was quite interesting too.
All the characters felt real. The only thing I thought was missing was some variety among the personalities of the female characters. They were all strong but kind of in the same way.
I liked that Sanda — one of the protagonists — was a soldier, both physically and mentally strong, who was also very empathetic and good at building relationships with others. She didn't take crap from anyone, but she always tried to understand others and find a way to build a connection. That complexity made her very likeable and realistic. She's one of my favorite badass female leads.
Her brother Biran was also an interesting character because of how he developed over time, revealing secrets and skills the reader didn't know about. I was lukewarm about him in the beginning, but certain events made me like and respect him more. He was a well-rounded and complex character.
The story was really exciting and full of plot twists. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, it turned out that I was wrong. As is typical of a space opera, the stakes were high, the tension was ever growing, and the inconceivable things out there were threatening humanity.
The world-building was nicely done. We follow humanity in the far future after a certain company discovered a technology to build gates that allow instant travel to large distances. The company basically turned into a government over the years, creating new roles and traditions to keep their secrets. There was a lot of nuance, and the world was multi-layered, always hiding more than I could initially see beneath the surface. There were many factions with conflicting interests and complicated political relationships, just like in any good space opera.
I loved The Protectorate series! I noticed a few small imperfections, but the story was so exciting, the characters so interesting, the world so engrossing and the plot twists so unexpected and captivating that those didn't matter in the end.
You might enjoy The Protectorate if you like space operas, strong female and LGBTQ+ characters, plot twists and high stakes.
Megan E. O'Keefe was raised amongst journalists, and as soon as she was able joined them by crafting a newsletter which chronicled the daily adventures of the local cat population. She lives in the Bay Area of California, and spends her free time tinkering with anything she can get her hands on.
Her fantasy debut, Steal the Sky, won the Gemmell Morningstar Award and her space opera debut, Velocity Weapon was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.
Featured image by Ray Shrewsberry.