Rating: PG (violence and medical)
On their way back to Earth from the newly discovered world of Kainus Ge, the Surveyor rescues the personnel of a malfunctioning science station. Young medical assistant Andi quickly befriends the newcomers, particularly the charming captain, but things get complicated when the scientists offer the impossible--a way to improve the barren planet and the lives of all its inhabitants.
There's only one problem: their solution requires the Surveyor to enter the one area of the galaxy which is off-limits to travel.
As the Captain struggles with his decisions, Andi and her father become suspicious of the “accidents” that keep happening on the ship. Could it be coincidence, or is someone trying to sabotage their mission? Can they uncover the truth in time to stop the Captain from wrecking his career and losing his ship forever?
I admit, ever since accidentally stumbling on Radialloy following "customers who bought this also bought" rabbit trails on my kindle, I have been a huge fan of the Firmament Series. I love science fiction, I have since I was a child whose knowledge of sci-fi came only from A Wrinkle in Time and E.T., the Extraterrestrial, but there's such a shortage of good, well-written, Christian science fiction. The Firmament Series works to fill in that gap, and I believe it is succeeding in an incredible way. Book 3, Machiavellian, is no exception. Of course, I do recommend reading the first two books, Radialloy and In His Image first, but don't worry about sequel failure. It won't happen. I also recommend reading the online prologues and epilogues. They aren't necessary to the story, but they add an extra layer of depth to it that makes it even better...despite the freak out some bits of it gave me where it hints at what eventually happens to some of the characters. But I'm here to talk about Machiavellian specifically.
Grace's books are always well-written. Machiavellian is up to par with the other Firmament books, really pulling the reader into the story and Andi's thoughts and emotions. The narrative is tightly written, never wandering off into unnecessary plot lines. I'll get into it more in the plot section, but the way she writes really brings out the mystery. I don't guess endings as well as my sister, but I can still predict them some, and Machiavellian had me guessing almost until the end. She doesn't give out hints readily.
Machiavellian takes place back on the Surveyor. After spending Radialloy there, it felt like coming home again. Spaceships and space travel fascinate me, so I love reading about the Surveyor. Naturally, such space travel is fiction only, so it's really only speculation how it would all work, but I felt like it's all very believable. Much more believable than my beloved Doctor Who. Firmament really feels like it could take place in a real future version of our universe. I love the setting.
I'd give it 6 or 7 out of 5, but I'm not sure my sisters would like me to thus bend our rating system. Because this plot was so twisty and turny and gasping out loud and ranting about my confusion over what's really going on that it deserves extra points. Rabbit trails and red herrings make it so difficult to figure out who's behind the sabotage, and it's even harder to figure out what the saboteurs are trying to accomplish and why. And the message throughout. Helping Elasson and the other inhabitants of Kainus Ge is a worthy cause. Andi wants to help them. But helping them would require doing something that is illegal, though it's not technically against God's law. The Bible doesn't say "Thou shalt not enter the galactic center." Is it really wrong if it's for a good cause? These are the questions Andi struggles with, and in a realistic and relatable fashion. And her conclusion...spoilers.
I love the Firmament cast of characters.They feel like old friends by now. I could really feel Andi's struggles, and I definitely sympathized with her missing Elasson. I miss Elasson too. Grace said we'll see him again, but seeing him again right now wouldn't be soon enough. He's mentioned quite often throughout Machiavellian, and I hope there's a good reason why Andi is so worried about the possibility of losing him. (Hint, hint. Andi and Elasson. It would be perfect. :) ) The Doctor is himself, and I loved seeing more of him. There's more of August than in previous books, which I liked (but no, I'm still not a crazy August fangirl), and Guilders's character emerges more. We get to see more of what Captain Trent is like, and new character Napoleon is another one of those who is difficult to figure out, definitely interesting. Crash is absent from this book, but the loss of his cocky personality didn't make too much of a difference. Firmament can survive without him.
Firmament: Machiavellian is a worthy continuation of the to be 18 book series that is an excellent, not to be missed Christian science fiction adventure. Firmament is awesome. Go read it. :)