J.C. Steel's second novel in her Cortii series takes everything that made Through the Hostage good and improves on it: pacing, characters, everything. Through the Hostage was a good book, but Fighting Shadows shines.
The story returns to Khyria Ilan and Wildcat Cortia. Now no longer trainees, Khyria has to rebuild her depleted unit while still fending off her enemies both political and physical. The political machinations of the various Cortii and their ruling body is a little impenetrable at first, but everything starts falling into place quickly. The story itself divides into 3 points of view: Khyria and her subordinates Anst and Taiva, each with their own quirks of personality and flavor. Doing this always creates the risk that one storyline will rise above the others, but that didn't happen here. Each line is personal enough to be unique, but none outshine any of the others.
The relationships between the characters are brought into more focus with this entry. The seeds sown in Through the Hostage start bearing fruit here. We get some more glimpses into Khyria's past, her relationships with her subordinates and her rivals, and fellow POV characters Taiva and Anst get similar building. There are a few foibles: I personally found Taiva's hard-headedness more irritating than endearing (admittedly this is just my opinion and to each their own) and somewhere Khyria developed a Batman-like ability to always be standing in shadows before stepping into the light. I personally found Anst's more espionage-esque story the most engaging, but I was never bored with any of them.
Between the main story arc and the individual arcs of the characters, Fighting Shadows weaves a very good story. I heartily recommend taking a look if you're in the market for some new sci-fi.
(reviewed 60 days after purchase)