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Escorting young Yohan Felger across a haunt of outlaws to an enemy city was already a daunting task, but when her commanders changed her mission to include sounding out the leaders to switch sides it ...
Escorting young Yohan Felger across a haunt of outlaws to an enemy city was already a daunting task, but when her commanders changed her mission to include sounding out the leaders to switch sides it became a Deadly Enterprise.
On Gaia, an alternate Earth, the crew of the lost starship Iskander find themselves working for and against the inhabitants of a different 17th Century Europe. Building themselves a place in this world by promoting social change and an Industrial Revolution, they become enemies of the Trigons - also marooned star travelers, who now rule the Empire. But an enemy can be defeated with humanity when the person in charge is a rebel at heart.
On the far side of New Market Square the door to the Felger mansion, the Lingdon headquarters of the richest merchant venturing family on Gaia, swung open. Gisel Matah touched the butt of her automatic in its shoulder holster as she stepped away from the customers at the vegetable stall she'd used for concealment. Her note had worked. Jeeze - at last! Two men descended the mansion's steps into the late afternoon sun, pausing in the narrow forecourt behind the iron railings to look about them. One was her messenger, the other a tall and well proportioned fellow with fair hair showing from under an unadorned hat. About twenty, she'd guess - near her own age. He had to be Yohan Felger, the man she was after.
The stall-keeper stepped out from behind his wares to follow her to the corner of the barrow. "Now wot you want to look at, girl?"
She scanned the square quickly to see if anyone else had taken an interest in the two men's appearance. Zagdorf's men had to be here somewhere - they were watching the Felgers. She picked up a cabbage from the stall and spoke in her best city accent. "Ow much?"
She'd need to argue the price to fit her servant-girl disguise, a kirtle of homespun wool and travel-stained jacket, with a simple coif covering her long dark hair. "Four Groats each? My Lor' they mus' be from 'is Majesty's own garden."
"Don't be so cheeky, my girl, or I'll box yer ears, I will." The stall-keeper's smiling eyes belied his threat. Gisel felt a flash of affection for him - just a common citizen of Lingdon, a city from an era five hundred years earlier than the one she belonged to. A city of dark cobbled streetsovershadowed by the upper stories of houses that sliced up the sky, with its commerce hauled on pack horses and ox-drawn drays to sailing ships that moored in the east river docks. Life was brutal here, but people loved their families, were loyal to friends, and could sometimes be kind to strangers. They faced every disaster with a cheeky, deprecating humor. She liked them, but were they worth dying for?
"Would yer change yer tune if I paid for three?"
"About time, I'd say. You damn near wore out enough greens for a gallon o' soup with yer pokin' and pickin'."
Gisel handed over the coins, her eye on the young man and the fellow carrying out her errand. The mansion behind them loomed over the street as if it owned it, which it likely did. It was taller and more ornately decorated with stone carvings and gargoyles than the mansions and town houses ranging around the other three sides of the square. Its lofty facade stood almost high enough to hide the Temple of the Eternal Flame on the hill behind - a hill occupied by St. Paul's in another city, in the world Gisel had come from.
She didn't answer the man's last jibe - at last she'd picked out her enemy's watchers in the square. At a stall draped with cheap linen and used clothes, the stall-keepers reacted as the mansion's door slammed shut. The oldest seemed to direct two others, one to hurry away among the market stalls, the other to pick up a knobby ended stick and follow Yohan Felger and the messenger down the street. They stepped out like soldiers - had to be Commandante Zagdorf's new Imperial bully-boys.
Gisel picked up her purchase. Threading her way between the stalls she hurried toward the Felger mansion to follow Felger and the messenger. When she caught sight of them again they were walking at a smart pace toward the lane leading to the Brook Steps. Zagdorf's man tailed them, about fifty yards behind. She reached a hand behind the cabbages she cradled, into her dress to activate her throat mike. "Are you there, Marc?" She was glad to have back-up, but not so pleased to be working with an ex-lover.
"I saw them, Gisel."
"I'm following Felger. Where did the other man go?"
"I'm tailing him. I think he's going for reinforcements."
She hurried to the lane, hoping her ruse as a servant rushing the cabbages to an impatient cook held. Zagdorf's man strode along ahead of her as Felger and his companion took the turning into Goldsmith Alley. A quick good look behind -no one following. She speeded her step - not too much - a servant girl wouldn't run. But a servant girl wouldn't have this crawling feeling down her spine. She'd found the body of a murdered agent two days before. Breathe, Gisel - keep it cool. You've done this before.Zagdorf's man paused at the end of the street until the unsuspecting duo got out of sight. He seemed to know his business. As long as he didn't notice he was being followed as well. When a group of tradesmen crossed the street between them, she walked on quickly to catch up. A man and woman exchanged some comment as Gisel stepped across the street's stinking refuse to go around them. Careful, girl - ease up - don't act out of character.
As she gained on the watcher she placed a hand into her waist pack. She carried a hypodermic loaded with phencyclidine she could administer with one hand. The only safe place to act was in Goldsmith Alley. It was usually quiet, and with this brisk wind from the river, cold enough that no one would tarry in doorways or dawdle about their business. Around the corner, Gisel caught up to Zagdorf's man. He barely gave her a glance. She walked on past him as he waited in a doorway for Felger and the messenger to get out of sight. When they disappeared from view, the street was deserted. The watcher sped up to pass her. Gisel dropped the bundle of cabbages between his feet.
As the fellow swerved aside to dodge them she kicked his ankle. With an angry cry he went down into the alley's muck. She stooped over him as if trying to help. With a slap of her hand she jabbed the needle into his arm. He gave a groan and slumped face-forward into the mud.
Gisel rolled him onto his side, and sprang to her feet. She hiked her skirts, a quick sprint and she was half a street away.
She slowed to a walk as she reached the next intersection. Yohan Felger and the messenger were just leaving Goldsmith Alley where it opened out on the foul smelling river bank. Unlike the alley, the embankment was thronged. Some travelers descended the steps to reach rowboats and wherries waiting below, while others stepped onto the embankment after disembarking. As she made for him, her quarry halted at the head of Brook Steps and began to gaze about.
This was her first opportunity to size up the young man whose name she'd only heard three days before. Meister Felger wasn't wary enough - he'd never noticed the man following him. On the other hand, he was a strapping fellow, and had obviously recognized her message entailed more than a quick stroll down the street. He wore a thick woolen cloak, which he'd need on the river and, she suspected, a weapon concealed beneath its folds.
Copyright © 2007 Christopher Hoare.
Posted March 8, 2011
From the future with an advanced technology but a damaged starship the Iskander, the crew must adapt to the old war ravaged earth of Gaia. The Iskander leaders wish to broker a peace between the emperor and his opponents so all can prosper. The best choice to work with is considered the merchant-banking Felger family. Although she is young and a rogue, Lieutenant Gisel "Wildcat" Matah, is chosen to make first contact with Yohan Felger; as she bends rules but always accomplishes the mission because she never loses focus as to who she portrays under cover.
Gisel's assignment is to work a trade deal that will benefit her people and his family. However, in his world, women are subservient and not equal let alone superior. To negotiate, Gisel must dress and act as if she is a man. As troopers search for outside operative Wildcat, her superiors switch her mission when another stranded space traveling species surfaces. However, the hardest impediment to staying in character is her attraction to the man who sees her as a male but her heart is all female.
The key to this terrific alternate earth science fiction thriller is the heroine who comes from a future in which a woman can be all she can be, but in this past, a female has restrictive roles. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy Gisel's efforts to broker a peace between two adversarial groups who have been fighting a Hundred Years War while another joker enters the fray. Although the support cast can seem overwhelming as there are so many players providing diverse limited roles, Deadly Enterprise is an enjoyable action-packed tale (see Wildcat's Victory and Arrival for other thrillers starring Gisel).
Posted February 8, 2009
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Alternate realities and gun-toting secret agents usually aren't my thing, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Deadly Enterprise by Canadian author Christopher Hoare. I<BR/>mentioned that I started reading it in the E.R., and I have to say, it provided the perfect escape from my painful reality.<BR/><BR/>The story revolves around Gisel Matah, a lieutenant from Iskander, a progressive society on a futuristic Earth. Because of a blip in their space/time travel plans, Gisel's people find themselves trapped in the 17th Century on an alternate Earth called Gaia. Since it's impossible for the Iskanders to return to their own land, they aim to improve Gaia with their advanced knowledge and inventions. Not everyone is happy about the plan, especially the ruling Trigons, another people stranded in a foreign land. To help persuade the higher-ups to oust the Trigons, the Iskanders form a partnership with banker Yohan Felger. The young man has contacts in the enemy city of Lubitz, so he and Gisel set out together to appeal to the city's leaders. Gisel's reputation (her reckless bravery has earned her the nickname "Wildcat") makes her a target for all kinds of enemies, so she passes herself off as Yohan's male bodyguard.<BR/><BR/>Journeying side by side means that Gisel and Yohan must learn to work together. They are an unlikely pair - Gisel is a hardened military woman, reared in an age when women have as many rights as men, while Yohan is a gentleman from a time when women submitted to men or faced the consequences. While Yohan finds Gisel's aggressive nature appalling, he also comes to respect her cunning and skill. Gisel teases the refined Yohan about his lack of street smarts, but acknowledges he is the kindest, gentlest man she's ever known. Predictably, the two discover they are attracted to each other, although they have little time to think about romance. There's also the little problem of Yohan's betrothal and Gisel's ex-boyfriend, who longs for a reconciliation.<BR/><BR/>When the pair finally reach Lubitz, they find a town in confusion. Gisel knows the tide of opinion can be turned in favor of Iskander aid if only she can speak to the right people. But, Lubitz is under siege by the formidable Trigons, and no one knows who to trust. Her new mission is fraught with danger. Can Gisel convince the right people before it's too late? Will her disguise keep her safe from her enemies? Most importantly (to me, anyway), will Gisel and Yohan find happiness together? Or will their differences keep them apart?<BR/><BR/>Deadly Enterprise moves along steadily, with a plot driven by constant action. The characters are likeable, if not super original. Gisel makes an appealing leading lady, with her tough exterior and compassionate heart. Yohan suits her, although their companionship is sedate and lacking the fire one would expect from a woman as passionate as the Wildcat. The supporting cast is large and thus, confusing, with few members really standing out. Still, action rules the day in the book, and that's what makes it such an entertaining read. When I first read the book's description, I thought it was a sci fi/techno type thriller, but it's really more of an adventure story. Fans of both should find something to their liking in Deadly Enterprise. Iskander enthusiasts (of whichWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 7, 2008
Lieutenant Gisel Matah is resourceful, daring, and from a future earth. She's also beautiful and rebellious-a wild cat. At 20, she's the Iskander's top operative. She thrives on the adrenaline rush of each assignment. Able to stay focused, in character, observant and determined, Gisel may not always follow orders to the letter, but she always gets the mission accomplished. Iskander technology is well-advanced of Gaia, the older earth which the Iskander's find they must adapt to. With battles raging between the Emperor and other factions, the Iskanders are interested in finding peace and making allies. To that end, they choose to approach the Felgers, a successful merchant and banker family, to assist them with their trading and production plans. Gisel must convince Yohan Felger of the benefits to him and his family business if they join forces. It's not an easy task. She has to share enough information about their technology to convince him of their worth, but not too much information which he could use against them. In a world where women are required to be under the care and supervision of men, Gisel must remain disguised as a man in order to accomplish her mission. Complicating matters are rumors on Gaia about a female agent named 'Wildcat' who is nothing but trouble, and who is being sought by Zargdorf, his troopers, and hired local forces. The story is intriguing and entertaining. Deadly Enterprise is a page-turner. The reader is naturally curious to see how Gisel will manage to keep her identity and heart disguised while escorting and protecting Yohan through the warring territories in order to make alliances for a peaceful and prosperous future for everyone. Logic can sometimes be overruled by emotions and plans don't always go as expected, especially when innocent people are put in harm's way. Gisel must make a lot of tough decisions. Christopher Hoare's strong female protagonist in Deadly Enterprise is well-crafted. The descriptive scenes and tight writing keep the reader engaged and turning the pages. Deadly Enterprise contains elements of time travel, past worlds, future worlds, politics, battles, strategy, survival, and a small dash of romance. After all, Gisel may be a soldier, but she also has a heart. I solidly recommend reading Deadly Enterprise for the pure enjoyment of a well-written novel containing strong and clearly defined characters, clear, crisp details that propel the story forward, and an enticing glimpse into a new world. I look forward to more novels from this writer, especially if they include Gisel Matah.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 4, 2011
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