I wanted very much for this to be better than it was. But while it was not bad, neither was it particularly good. It's a Big Mac of a space opera, a perfectly average, standard, processed serving delivering a pleasant if unexceptional taste but no nutritional value. Mike Shepherd seems to be trying to imitate David Weber or Lois McMaster Bujold, and since I am not particularly a fan of either of them (I know, sacrilege), this story did little for me. It was entertaining enough for the time I spent listening to it, but I don't really care about Kris Longknife and her future military career and whatever political shenanigans will continue through the next few books, nor was I even lured by the promise of the aliens repeatedly mentioned in this book but never seen.
Kris Longknife is a daughter of privilege in this far future where Earth is a corrupt, decadent old world at the center of a union spanning hundreds of colony worlds. Her father is the Prime Minister of Wardhaven, and he's been a cold, political creature since Kris's little brother was killed following a botched kidnapping when she was ten. Kris, following years of guilt and a bit of teenage alcoholism, was inspired by her war-hero grandfather to join the Navy, much to her parents' horror.
In the first part of the book, we are introduced to Kris as a boot Ensign in charge of a bunch of space marines who are on a rescue mission to save a little girl who's been kidnapped by terrorists. Of course this dredges up all of Kris's issues, and already she was trying me, because the whole time it was "OH, the angst
! I'm coming, Tommy! I won't let this little girl die like you did! Oh, how can I focus on the job when I keep remembering my dead little brother angst!angst!angst!
I'm sure something like that will haunt you for your entire life, but it happened when she was a kid, and now she's an adult and a naval officer. One would think she'd have developed some coping skills by now. But saving the little girl was clearly meant to be the point where she finally
is able to put her brother to rest.
Then we get more family background, Kris takes a lot of crap from fellow officers because of course she's one of "those Longknives" and everyone knows she's a rich girl who decided to join the military for whatever reason. She is assigned to a humanitarian mission on a nearly-abandoned colony world where people are starving and facing floods and plagues, and since she's so exceptional, she manages to whip the green, bottom-of-the-barrel unit she's assigned to into kick-ass troops who beat off bandits and save the starving farmers, etc.
In the meantime, there's some kind of plot where political enemies of her family are trying to set her up to be killed, which introduces the main bad guys and a dubious romantic interest for future books.
The "mutiny" of the book's title does not take place until nearly the end of the book, and like all the things Kris does, it's an act that requires a certain amount of bravery and competence, but no hard moral choices — throughout the book, the reader is never left in doubt that Kris is absolutely doing the right thing and anyone who opposes her is wrong.
If you really like military SF and female protagonists, this may be worth checking out, but I'm unlikely to pick up the rest of the series unless I'm starved for something better.