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23 Years on Fire

by Joel Shepherd

Cassandra Kresnov--a highly advanced hunter-killer android--returns to face down a rogue government's plot to eliminate free will. Commander Cassandra Kresnov has her hands full. She must lead an assault against the Federation world of Pyeongwha, where a terrible sociological phenomenon has unleashed hell against the civilian population. Then she faces the threat from a portion of League space known as New Torah, in which a ruthless regime of surviving corporations are building new synthetic soldiers but taking the technology in alarming directions. On the Torahn world of Pantala, Sandy encounters betrayal, crisis, and conspiracy on a scale previously unimaginable. Most challenging of all, she also meets three young street kids who stir emotions in her she didn't think she was capable of. Can the Federation's most lethal killer afford unexpected sentiment? What will be the cost if she is forced to choose between them and her mission, not only to her cause, but to her soul?

Breakaway (Cassandra Kresnov #2)

by Joel Shepherd

Cassandra Kresnov is a highly advanced hunter-killer android. She has escaped the League and fled to Callay, a member of the Federation. Because of her fighting skills she was able to save the president's life and is now a trusted member of the security forces. However, not all Tanushans are happy to have her on their turf and Cassandra has to tread carefully. As Callay moves towards a vote on whether to break away from the Federation, confusion reigns and terrorist groups plot their own agendas. Cassandra becomes involved with two young troubleshooters for the secret service and finds out more than she ever wanted to know about the Tanushan underground and those on the fringes. Furthermore, there is a delegation from the League in Tanusha, and Cassandra is not sure that they won't try to take her back. Breakaway is a great story with a cracking plot and strong characters. At its heart is the enigma of Cassandra: Is she more human than human, or is she totally untrustworthy?

Crossover (Cassandra Kresnov #1)

by Joel Shepherd

Crossover is the first novel in a series which follows the adventures of Cassandra Kresnov, an artificial person, or android, created by the League, one side of an interstellar war against the more powerful, conservative Federation. Cassandra is an experimental design -- more intelligent, more creative, and far more dangerous than any that have preceded her. But with her intellect come questions, and a moral awakening. She deserts the League and heads incognito into the space of her former enemy, the Federation, in search of a new life. Her chosen world is Callay, and its enormous, decadent capital metropolis of Tanusha, where the concerns of the war are literally and figuratively so many light years away. But the war between the League and the Federation was ideological as much as political, with much of that ideological dispute regarding the very existence of artificial sentience and the rules that govern its creation. Cassandra discovers that even in Tanusha, the powerful entities of this bloody conflict have wound their tentacles. Many in the League and the Federation have cause to want her dead, and Cassandra's history, inevitably, catches up with her. Cassandra finds herself at the mercy of a society whose values preclude her own right even to exist. But her presence in Tanusha reveals other fault lines, and when Federal agents attempt to assassinate the Callayan president, she finds herself thrust into the service of her former enemies, using her lethal skills to attempt to protect her former enemies from forces beyond their ability to control. As she struggles for her place and survival in a new world, Cassandra must forge new friendships with old enemies, while attempting to confront the most disturbing and deadly realities of her own existence.

Haven (Trial of Blood and Steel #4)

by Joel Shepherd

The great powers of the Saalshen Bacosh are falling. The feudal army of the Regent Balthaar Arosh marches victorious across Rhodaan and Enora, determined to restore the old human ways that were abolished by the serrin of Saalshen two centuries before. The Army of Lenayin marches in their wake, in shame. The greater battle was won, yet Lenayin's part in it was defeat, their king slain, their warriors sent running from the field. Sashandra Lenayin marches with her people, yet she sees the carnage the Regent's armies are inflicting upon her former allies, and like most Lenays, she feels dishonoured. Sasha leads three quarters of the Army of Lenayin to defect, and fight for Saalshen, leaving her brothers Koenyg and Myklas with the Verenthane hardliners to fight for the Regent. All forces now converge on the city of Jahnd, an Enoran word meaning 'Haven'. A city of humanity's refugees in Saalshen, its serrin hosts have allowed it to build into a major power over the centuries, humankind's only outpost in Saalshen. But the Saalshen Bacosh's third province, the mountainous land of Ilduur, refuses to come to the aid of its neighbours, and without it, victory is impossible. Sasha must lead a delegation to the Ilduuri capital, to combat the xenophobic Ilduuri regime's retreat into isolation, and convince the Ilduuri army to defy their own leaders, and rise up in rebellion to fight a foreign war that most Ilduuris do not want. To save Saalshen and all that she loves about Lenayin, Sasha must become a true Lenay warlord, feared and hated by her enemies, uncompromising and all conquering. But will her own people now inflict upon her one of her worst nightmares, by insisting that she, and not her brother Damon, should assume the Lenay throne and lead her people in the greatest battle that the land of Rhodia has ever seen?

Killswitch (Cassandra Kresnov #3)

by Joel Shepherd

Two years after the unhatching of Callayan President Neiland's plot to make the capital city of Tanusha the center of the Federation, Callay is under siege. So begins the third installment of this gripping trilogy from an exciting new sci-fi author.A powerful faction of conservative Fleet captains has surrounded Callay, at Earth's behest, and is threatening a blockade - or worse. A fearful Earth does not wish to lose direct control of its precious war machine, and there are fears of civil war.All that Callay has to oppose the warships of the Fleet is the Callayan Defense Force (CDF) - a newly formed group of raw recruits led by a politically hamstrung general. However, the CDF is largely trained and organized by Major Vanessa Rice and her best friend, Callay's combat-android, Commander Cassandra Kresnov. But when Cassandra's lover, Special Agent Ari Ruben, discovers a plot to kill her using a killswitch, which her old masters in the League built into her brainstem, Sandy is forced to go underground to stay alive.

Operation Shield

by Joel Shepherd

Part military SF, part cyberpunk, part grand-scale space opera, and part techno-psychological thriller, the Cassandra Kresnov novels transcend the recently narrow segmentation of the science fiction genre.In 23 Years on Fire, Cassandra discovered that the technology that created her has been misused in her former home and now threatens all humanity with catastrophe. Returning home to Callay, she finds that Federation member worlds, exhausted by the previous thirty-year-war against the League, are unwilling to risk the confrontation that a solution may require. Some of these forces will go to any lengths to avoid a new conflict, including taking a sledgehammer to the Federation Constitution and threatening the removal by force of Cassandra's own branch of the Federal Security Agency.More frighteningly for Sandy, she has brought back to Callay three young children, whom she met on the mean streets of Droze, discovering maternal feelings she had not known she possessed. Can she reconcile her duty as a soldier, including what she must do as a tactician, with the dangers that those decisions will place upon her family--the one thing that has come to mean more to her than any cause she now believes in?

Originator

by Joel Shepherd

Hope for the future in the hands of an enemy from the past . . . Cassandra Kresnov must find the answers that could free her people--or doom her family.A quarter of a million people die in the destruction of the moon Cresta. The League civil war is accelerating out of control, but projections indicate that as their technologically induced sociological dysfunction continues, all of humanity may face a similar fate. In the aftermath of Cresta's destruction, Sandy Kresnov discovers the alien Talee operative Cai in Tanusha, there to learn just how far the technologically-induced insanity has gone. The Talee have seen this before, and they are terrified of anything threatening a recurrence.Meanwhile, Sandy's old nemesis Renaldo Takewashi, the self-proclaimed "father" of synthetic intelligence, comes to the Federation seeking asylum. Talewashi may even have a cure--previously unknown Talee technology implanted into a human child subject--Sandy's little boy, Kiril. But it is exactly this technology that the Talee fear, and they will exterminate anyone caught using it.Now, Sandy must fight to save her family from a terrible new threat, but doing so may plunge humanity into another destructive war between humans, or worse, against the massively-advanced Talee. And what final secret are the Talee protecting about the origins of synthetic humans like Sandy that could either liberate Sandy's fellow synthetics from bondage or spell disaster for all humanity? From the Trade Paperback edition.

Petrodor (Trial of Blood and Steel #2)

by Joel Shepherd

Book two in the quartet A Trial of Blood & Steel picks up the story of the brave and independent heroine, Sasha, now living in the port city of Petrodor. Away from the hills of her Lenayin homeland, Sasha is making a new life in the dark alleys and wealthy houses of Petrodor. An influential trading centre, Petrodor holds the key to preventing the coming war between Lenayin and the mighty Bacosh. Together with her old mentor Kessligh, Sasha attempts to navigate the political intrigues of the port city and find a way to stop the war. It is the serrin, the beautiful but dangerous people from beyond the Bacosh, who will be the pivotal point in this struggle. How much can Sasha trust her old serrin friend Errollyn? And how much can she trust herself?

Sasha (Trial of Blood and Steel #1)

by Joel Shepherd

Spurning her royal heritage to be raised by the great warrior, Kessligh, her exquisite swordplay astonishes all who witness it. But Sasha is still young, untested in battle and often led by her rash temper. In the complex world of Lenayin loyalties, her defiant wilfulness is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Lenayin is a land almost divided by its two faiths: the Verenthane of the ruling classes and the pagan Goeren-yai, amongst whom Sasha now lives. The Goeren-yai worship swordplay and honour and begin to see Sasha as the great spirit--the Synnich--who will unite them. But Sasha is still searching for what she believes and must choose her side carefully. When the Udalyn people--the symbol of Goeren-yai pride and courage--are attacked, Sasha will face her moment of testing. How will she act? Is she ready to lead? Can she be the saviour they need her to be?

Tracato (Trial of Blood and Steel #3)

by Joel Shepherd

For two hundred years Tracato has been the center of enlightenment, as the serrin have occupied human lands and sought to remake humanity anew. But the serrin have not destroyed Rhodaan's feudal families entirely, and as Tracato faces the greatest threat to its survival in two centuries, old rivalries are stirring. Sasha must assist her mentor Kessligh to strengthen the Tracato Nasi-Keth, yet with one royal sister siding with the feudalists and another soon to be married to Tracato's most powerful foe, her loyalties are agonizingly divided. Worse still, from Sasha's homeland the Army of Lenayin are marching to make war upon Tracato. Can she fight her own people? Or must she join them, and fight not only her lover Errollyn, but to extinguish the brightest light of hope in all the land--serrin civilization itself?

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