Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Marko Kloos has evidently settled in for the long run with his grandiose and ambitious series, The Palladium Wars, and in the third book, titled Citadel, he escalates the conflict in the Gaia system even further. To begin with, Commander Dunstan Park has been given control of an experimental ship capable of turning the tides of war. Meanwhile, conflict is renewed on Gretia in the wake of a terrorist attack, the insurgents threatening the precarious peace established there.
Table of contents
Marko Kloos Keeps the Conflict Escalating
Our dreams of sending Man into space now realized, we have begun looking forward to the colonization of planets, moons and asteroids, perhaps even one day populating all the corners of our solar system. However, human nature is unlikely to change should we ever see such a scenario come to pass, and our penchant for conflict will take on new and terrifying scales, as it has in Citadel by Marko Kloos, the third book in The Palladium Wars series.
I’ll say it right now, this is the type of series I highly recommend you start reading from the start. If you haven’t read the first nor the second book, you’re definitely going to have a fair amount of trouble following the events here, not to mention the confusion you’ll experience at the sight of so many characters the author assumes are familiar to you. With this being said, I’ll assume you’re familiar with the first two chapters moving onward.
Picking up where the previous book dropped us off, the seemingly never-ending conflict in the Gaia system has escalated to a new phase two weeks ago, with the firing of a nuclear warhead in the largest attack ever seen in the system’s history. However, the Rhodian navy has a little trick up its sleeve, and it’s up to Commander Dunstan Park to make it bear fruit.
He has been handpicked in order to command an experimental cruiser, one capable of turning the tides of war, should it be at the right place, at the right time. Needless to say, keeping its existence a total secret is a futile endeavour, and all too many enemies soon try to get their hands on the ship. It’s up to Dunstan and his small crew to ensure the mission succeeds at all costs.
Meanwhile, Gretia is slipping further and further into chaos, with the authorities losing control of social order in the wake of a violent terrorist attack, drawing Idina Chaudhary into a long and bloodied battle, while Aden Jansen is forced back into the fray, despite fears of his past being uncovered. The decisions made in his former life and the alliances he built might end up ruining not only himself, but more importantly, his sister Solveig, heir to the family empire.
The Long Crawl Continues with Citadel
In the first two books of the series, Marko Kloos distinguished himself by his rather slow and methodical pace, taking great care in building the world, fleshing out the characters, and describing countless little details in order to create a unique and immersive atmosphere. In Citadel he continues with this trend, at least until the final quarter of the book or so.
Now, I do understand why some people might have gripes with the author for choosing to tell the story in this manner. Plot progress remains relatively slow, and it feels like things could have already picked up by now, considering it’s the third book. To this I would say that it is correct to appraise this series as not being intended for everyone.
While some books don’t require a heavy investment from the reader and simple deliver entertainment by the spoonful, The Palladium Wars is, evidently enough, the types of series which demands patience and offers a journey which allows you to take your time. As much as the plot is of interest, I believe Marko Kloos wants to make the world he created the central focus of the story, at least as far as the first three books are concerned.
Our long crawl through his Gaia system is as methodical and meticulous as we’ve come to expect, often stopping on various little details which, in their own ways, contribute to bringing the world to life, to give the impression it’s a real, independent and living being with blood coursing through its veins. In other words the reader is asked to not only take on the role of adventurer, but also that of the tourist.
I will admit there are a few passages which do feel like filler, retreading old ground and contributing little to the story, but even those remain pleasurable to read for the quality of the prose and the imagery they create. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned before, the action does pick up in the last quarter of the book, and that’s where Marko Kloos‘ writing shines brightest.
The Minutiae of War
Talented as the author might be when it comes to creating a vast and impressive sci-fi world for us to explore, I believe he is truly at his best when describing action sequences, especially ones taking place on enormous scales, as is the case for the intergalactic conflict we’re witnessing in Citadel. Once the action begins to ramp up in the latter half of the book the much-needed excitement factor soon shows its face.
The storylines involving the various characters we’ve gotten to know over the course of the series are slowly coming to a boil, and the mysteries which began as interesting investigations have turned into critical issues threatening the world with devastating consequences. With the stakes successfully raised, the time comes for a bit of action.
Though I myself have never tried it, I cannot believe it would be easy to write action sequences describing military strategy and tactics in an exciting and nail-biting fashion, but it’s exactly the feat accomplished by Marko Kloos in this novel. He such an ingenious talent for weaving large-scale confrontations where is capable of describing the smallest details and decisions in the heat of combat.
Where many authors would have written something utterly confusing and nonsensical, Kloos managed to create a veritable tableau of space warfare which easily lends itself to being visualized. Though I understand future books can’t solely consist of such scenes, I do hope he will be able to integrate more of them in the next chapter.
As far as the ending is concerned, it mirrors the feeling I had the end of the last book, as if great twists and wonders awaited me right around the corner. Though I will naturally temper my expectations a little for what’s to come, I do feel optimistic about the author’s intention to start accelerating things a little more and integrating a little more action into the overall formula.
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The Final Verdict
Citadel by Marko Kloos continues The Palladium Wars epic science-fiction series in an encouraging manner, simultaneously adhering to the patient perfectionist spirit of the previous books while raising the stakes and mixing in a welcome bit of exceptionally well-described action sequences.
If you’ve enjoyed the previous chapters in the series and are looking to continue an epic journey bound to last a few more books at least, then I do recommend you check this novel out.
Marko Kloos is a freelance novelist and writer, as well as being a father to two children. Kloos’ primary area of literary expertise is science-fiction, and perhaps fantasy as well. He is the kind of writer who knew what he wanted to do ever since he set foot in a library, which resulted in some acclaimed books such as Point of Impact, Angles of Attack, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure.