on 10 July 2014
Peacemaker (Peacemaker #1) is Marianne de Pierres’ new novel out from Angry Robot Books. With a combined setting of both future Australian mega-city and Wild West style landscape expanse, Peacemaker dips its toes into multiple genres. With such a unique and interesting setting to play with the question of whether this is too much for the story is present from the offset. However, de Pierres manages to keep everything in check while delivering a quick and action packed story.
Virgin Jackson is a ranger in Birrimun Park, the last natural landscape on the planet, her days taken up with the general maintenance of such a large reserve. With public access limited and strict controls in place to monitor the park, it comes as somewhat of a shock to Jackson when she walks into a gunfight in the park, one with people who should not – cannot – be there. Ending up embroiled in a murder investigation, one which paints her firmly as the chief suspect, is not her typical day, and with no evidence to corroborate her side of the story the situation starts to get messy.
With the arrival of Marshall Nate Sixkiller, a stoic and somewhat reserved American cowboy, and the reappearance of her childhood imaginary companion, the eagle Aquila, Jackson has more on her hands than she bargains for. Following up with her own investigation into the murder she discovers even more strange occurrences within Birrimun Park, and also in the wider city, all of which leads her to places and people on the murky edge of society.
My first impression of Peacemaker was, quite simply, cool. The setting – a Wild West style landscape set in the future – cried out to me as somewhere that could tell some very interesting stories. While the sci-fi side of the coin is perhaps not quite as prevalent as I would have hoped, it really didn’t matter. There were touches here and there to remind you that this was the future, but it was the western elements that really enriched the story.
One of the reasons that Peacemaker works so well is its main character, Virgin Jackson. The story is told through her eyes, dealing with situations as they arise, viewing – and judging – other people based on her values and opinions, and generally driving the narrative without much pause. There isn’t much let up in the pacing because of this, and it works that Virgin is determined and strong willed to keep the story going. I liked her because of her strengths as well as her flaws. She is judgmental, and the biggest issue this causes is the way she views Nate Sixkiller. She doesn’t give him an inch, and it feels like she’s fighting against him the whole time despite his actions. Having two very strong characters could have been an issue, but it isn’t and they do complement each other – to an extent. However, despite how much I enjoyed Sixkiller’s character and the time he’s present on the page, Peacemaker is very much about Virgin Jackson.
There are also mystic elements to Peacemaker, particularly in Virgin’s spirit pet, Aquila. When she turns up it sets many aspects of the story into motion, and Virgin’s understanding of why and how she is there is never firm. Something that is clear from the outset is that Sixkiller is a font of knowledge, but he rarely offers opinions, and Virgin doesn’t trust him to delve and ask questions. When this starts to resolve later in the novel it opens up even more questions about Virgin, Sixkiller, and the world in general.
Being quickly paced and entertaining, Peacemaker is successful, if slightly uneven, in its delivery. Enough questions are raised early on to keep the pages turning, and the world de Pierres has created is deep and rich, begging for further exploration. I, for one, look forward to the next novel in the series, especially after the revelations in the closing pages…