A Princess of the Aerie is the second volume in the Jak Jinnaka series by author John Barnes.
It's hard to stay away from series, in this world. There are a lot of upsides to them and, as long as they stay fresh, the downsides are few. You know what you can expect, you are already wise to the background and you know the main characters. The important thing is for the stories to stay fresh. Most writers can manage that for at least the first two books, and this the second book in the Jak Jinnaka series, is no different. It's usually around book three or four things start to go horribly wrong.
But for now it's book two and luckily this book is just fine. It has been a couple of years since Jak and his friends saved the universe (or at least the solar system) and the lovely princess Shyf. Jak and his friend Dujuv has been attending spy school and, well, that's pretty much it. They are getting a bit bored. So when Jak gets a message from Shyf asking for help they jump right to it. Off to Greenworld they go, to rescue the princess once again. Or so they think. Much to their surprise Princess Shyf has no need of them and hasn't send them any message. In fact, the last message she has send to Jak was more along the lines of “stay the hell away from me and stop calling me”. Instead of trowing them in jail, while this mess is sorted out, Jak gets to join the Royal Palace Guards to serve "at the pleasure of the princess". Unfortunately that has to be taken a lot more literal then you would usually think – the Palace Guard is in all practicality Princess Shyf harem. That may sound like a lot of fun, but, really it's not – Shyf is not a kind and warm hearted girl, she's more like the kind of girl who has her "lovers" brainwashed to love her. There is a good deal of sex here, but not more than the story demand and it's all tastefully and beautifully done (yes, I have a problem with excessive sex in my novels, not because I've anything against sex, 'cause I don't, but it has to be there for a reason, just like everything else in a book). Jak and his friends need to escape, before Jak looses his last shreds of free will to Shyf.
So they are off again...
If you liked the first Jak Jinnaka book, you'll probably like this one to. There may not be as much action as in The Duke of Uranium, but Barnes usual trademarks are all there. The wittiness, the underlaying seriousness and the intelligence of it all.
Written on 1st March 2002 by TC.
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