Book Review: “A Mere Formality” by Ilona Andrews

Posted January 8, 2021 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: “A Mere Formality” by Ilona Andrews

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

"A Mere Formality" by Ilona Andrews
Series: ,
Genres: Science Fiction
Published by Author on 2008
Pages: 26
Format: eBook

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
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Also by this author: Burn For Me, Magic Shifts, Burn for Me, Magic Binds, White Hot, Wildfire, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites , Magic Burns, Magic Strikes , Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays , Gunmetal Magic, "Gerard Demille and Helen Meet", "Diamond Fire", Magic Rises , Magic Breaks, Magic Shifts , Magic Binds , Magic Triumphs, "Sweep with Me", Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace, "Questing Beast", Blood Heir, "The King of Fire", Blood Heir , Sapphire Flames, "A Misunderstanding", Emerald Blaze, "The Cool Aunt", One Fell Sweep

A free short story, second in the Koslov Universe science fiction series (and third in Andrews’ Kinsmen series), revolving around a treaty signing.

My Take

Andrews warns us that this short story is the result of a dare with lots of talk about sex. But it’s not the kind of sex, um, that you might be expecting.

Oh, there are positions, and positions that people take on those positions, but it’s more of a laugh than anything else.

While Andrews uses a third person protagonist point-of-view from Dierdre’s perspective, it is quite subtle, as befits a definitely political tale with all its twists and turns. It’s certainly an unexpected take with that demand for a bride (plus) which gets around the Reigh’s prohibitions.

The unexpected part of the Reigh’s requirements goes completely counter to their beliefs and customs, and I’m totally unsure as to why Andrews used this, except to fulfill that dare.

Why was the Reigh even at the banquet? What’s with the booster Dierdre took? Why does Dierdre care if she never sees Lord Narad again? Why does Narad feel as he does? The Empire caved pretty easily on the money. Andrews does nothing to make this believable.

The Reigh do sound interesting, but how lame can they be? They have no thought for their future…until now.

I feel like I need to read Andrews’ Kinsmen series to make sense of this. (The Amazon link does open to the Kinsmen universe which includes “A Mere Formality”.)

The Story

It’s only the 30 million who inhabit the Cluster. Their economy and lives at stake, hence the need for that treaty between the Vunta Caliphate and the Monrovian Republic.

A treaty that is unlikely to be adhered to. What the Cluster needs is protection, but the Reigh doctrine forbids trading payment for military service.

The Empire must find an underhanded way to exchange money for protection with a people who are forbidden to become mercenaries.

The Characters

Deirdre Lebed is a cultural attachée who compiles and analyzes information for Sir Robert.

The Diplomatic Corps
Sir Robert Sergei Sarvini, Ambassador of the Second Intergalactic Empire to the Branches of Reigh, hates banquets. Fatima is his aide-de-camp; Michel Rashvili is his adjutant. Nina Carrest is an escort with perfect recall. Her object? Keep the object of her attention enraptured. Jason, the Duke of Rodkill, Robert’s mentor, is a recipient of the Diamond Sword and a living legend. Johanna Bray.

The Orbital Embassy is a space station. Timur Gonzales is the chief of security.

The Reigh have…
…an interesting history with some weird prohibitions. As a people, they are separated into Branches — think tribes, clans, whatever. Lord Nagrad of the Branch Nagrad is at war with the Empire. His son, his heir, will require reparation.

The Vunta Caliphate are…
…furry with lots of sharp teeth and a love for raiding. The Vunta ambassador is at the banquet.

The Monrovian Republic includes…
…the Colchida Cluster consisting of three stars, eleven habitable worlds, four warp points, and thirty million colonists. The Monrovian ambassador is at the banquet.

Survey Captain Sean Kozlov had been a friend to Lord Nagrad, the elder.

The Cover and Title

The cover is dark, the dark of outer space with swirls of purple and pale blue. In the upper left is a planet that shades from black to a bright and light blue with the Orbital floating at its bottom. In the center is a pair of joined rings. At the top is the author’s name in a gradated yellow to grayed yellow in a sci-fi-styled font. A disclaimer informs us it’s a science fiction short story, in that pale blue to the immediate right of one of the station’s arms. The title repeats the colors of the author’s name and is set to the right at the bottom.

I suspect the title is “A Mere Formality” to Lord Narad in his desire for a bride. It makes as much sense as anything…

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