Cobra Bargain by Timothy Zahn

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The main character in the third and final book of the Cobra Trilogy by Timothy Zahn is Jasmine (Jin) Moreau. Her father is Justin Moreau, the twin son of Johnny Moreau that became a Cobra. Jin hopes to continue this legacy, but there is one major roadblock. She’s a woman. Somewhere around this time the government discovers something odd happening back on Qasama, the world that they invaded back in Cobra Strike. Several blind spots in their satellite surveillance have developed. They are worried that the Qasamans might be trying to develop space flight or some type of weapon to use against the Cobra worlds. When a covert operation is planned, her family pushes for her to be trained as a Cobra. All Cobras that the Qasamans have seen have been men, so she should have an advantage.

The Trofts provide a transport that should allow the Cobra force to land on Qasama undetected. The recon mission almost becomes a total failure when for some reason the transport is detected and shot down. Jin is the only survivor with very serious injuries and no way to contact her superiors. She manages to find a survival pack with Qasaman clothing and eventually finds her way to a Qasaman road where she collapses and is picked up by some locals.

She is slowly nursed back to health by the Sammon family, on of the more powerful ones in a rural town named Milika. The rest of the novel is essentially a Sci-Fi mystery. Jin learns of a town inside the satellite blind spot that is hiring seasonal workers for what seems to be some type of secret manufacturing. Jin’s main goal is to investigate this while maintaining her cover. The eldest son of the Sammon family, Daulo, is very suspicious of Jin, but does not have any evidence to back it up. Jin in turn is amazed at the hospitality that the Sammon family gives a complete stranger. Jin decides to do what she can to protect her hosts while still accomplishing her mission. This turns out to be a good idea, because the Sammon family ends up being vital to Jin’s success.

This book turned out to be my favorite in the Cobra Trilogy. The action is spread out rather evenly from the perspective of the main character, Jin. Zahn also lays out the details of an alien society in a way that he does so well. With that said, I was somewhat disappointed with the trilogy as a whole. Zahn’s writing has definitely improved over time. I think my expectations were set too high after reading Manta’s Gift, The Icarus Hunt, and the Conquerors’ Trilogy. I also thoroughly enjoyed his books in the Star Wars universe as well. I would recommend reading some of Zahn’s later works. You will not be disappointed.

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