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Like his first two novels, Ben Jeapes' third book The Xenocide Mission is a moral novel that focuses on complex issues, and uses space opera to explore his theme. A sequel to His Majesty's Starship, The Xenocide Mission is an exploration of misunderstanding and of revenge. It's a story very much for our times.

Michael Gilmore's son Joel is a junior officer in the fleet of the fledgling inter-species Commonwealth. Assigned to a monitoring station in a system inhabited by a race known to have wiped out the sentient inhabitants of another world in their system in an apparently unprovoked attack. Labled as Xenocides, they're kept in an unknowing quarantine, monitored from far out in their solar system. When the Xenocides attack his station, Joel and his First Breed colleague Boon Round find themselves trapped on a lifeboat with two of their enemies, and on a course for the dead world. Meanwhile, back on The Roving, his father manages to put himself on a military retrieval expedition - a mission that masks more than one layer of conspiracy and confusion, alongside a star killing weapon.

Jeapes uses the standard tropes of military space opera to tell a complex story, one that tries to understand and examine the complexities of communication between very different races, while exploring the need for revenge and its effects on individuals and societies. Humanity's many differences are put into persepective by our relationships with other races, with our underlying violence relieved by persistence and love - as well as co-operation with fellow sentients. As Jeapes inidcates, the only true evil is misuse of power, and the only thing that can defeat it is cooperation and openness. This is a powerful story that hides a deep message in its high speed adventure.

Another excellent piece of work from Jeapes. While his books are sold as young adult, his themes and style are universal. Highly recommended.