Prisoners of Darkness (Galaxy’s Edge #6) ★★★★☆


This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Prisoners of Darkness
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #6
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 215
Words: 76.5K



Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

Having heard nothing from operative Andien Broxin, Nether Ops leader X waits at the Carnivale landing site as the tactical assault ship Forresaw returns, two weeks late and without warning. X considers the possibilities of what her unannounced return might mean, and none of them are good for the Republic. He becomes agitated enough to alert a sniper team at the landing site to active status, along with Sergeant Major Avers, the Carnivale’s combat trainer. After landing, Andien Broxin emerges alone from the ship and tries to kill X. Avers and the sniper team return fire and destroys the Forresaw as it tries to escape.

Major Ellek Owens has been arrested on charges of treason to the Republic and multiple counts of assassination. While this is not unexpected (Legion Commander Keller had previously let him know that Keller himself would not be taking the fall for the Dark Ops destruction of the Kesselverks Shipyards on Tarrago Prime) it is the apparent end to an otherwise impressive career. A number of Dark Ops legionnaires make things difficult for Republic Army officer Lt. Lynne Pratell, who is under orders to deliver Owens to a military tribunal, but she persists and carries out her mission. The tribunal itself is for show rather than to determine Owens’ guilt or innocence, and he is sentenced to life at hard labor in the Synth mines of Herbeer.

At the Republic Navy depot at Bantaar Reef, Admiral Landoo is trying to figure out how to respond to her near-complete loss of the 7th Fleet at Tarrago Prime and the more recent destruction of a super-destroyer to Imperial forces. She discovers that there is no viable military response as the fabled fifteen fleets of the Republic were so much propaganda; the Seventh Fleet was the only active task force in the galaxy. In addition, the House of Reason will not allow her to reposition any of the remaining super-destroyer groups from their current stations. She has been scraping together auxiliary ships for her own response, however. While she considers her options, Imperial tri-fighters attack Bantaar Reef and succeed in destroying the Ship-to-Ship Munitions (SSM) facility there, crippling their heavy torpedo production. A single Republic officer is identified as someone who could have let the Imperial forces inside the defense perimeter and he can’t be located.

Lt. Pratell’s Republic Army detail delivers Owens to Herbeer as Indelible VI pursues Andien Broxin for kidnapping Aeson Keel’s crew. Ravi alerts them to Broxin’s destination: the Echo Comm Node station in the Antilles system. Keel, though he cannot abide the thought of dealing with Broxin, does ask Chhun for his help in resolving the situation, who agrees. A brief refuel and re-supply stop on the Intrepid ends with a meeting with the ship’s CO, Captain Deynolds.

Imperial assault frigate Wolf arrives at the gas mining station on Jasilaar 9 to capture the station and mining facility. Goth Sullus’ Empire (aka the Imperial Republic) needs to constantly expand its labor force and resources to maintain its operations and the only way to do that is to capture existing industrial stations. Unexpectedly loyal and capable Republic Marines defeat them soundly, at the cost of the station’s destruction. This is a major setback for the Empire. Only a single escape pod survives.

In the Muratawa system, a Mid-Core Rebel fleet led by Jona Crimm engages a far more (apparently) capable Republic fleet. Crimm is a rising star in the MCR and is looking to boost his reputation even further with this engagement. The Republic admiral calculates that hios super-destroyer’s Aegis Point Defense System is sufficient to destroy the MCR’s fighter cover and so delays launching his own Raptor squadrons. This gives the MCR forces the chance to launch heavy torpedoes inside their defense perimeter and destroy the picket destroyer Pegasus. With the loss of the Pegasus, the Republic fleet can no longer co-ordinate its fire control systems and falls apart, disabling several more ships. The Captain of the Republic destroyer Imminent drops his ship into the planet’s atmosphere to dissuade MRC fighters from following…which Crimm had planned for, and orders MCR forces to attack her from the planet’s surface. The Imminent is a total loss and crashes. The engagement is a serious defeat for the Republic and Jona Crimm’s reputation soars further as the man who won the Battle (Victory) of Muratawa.

Back on the Intrepid, it becomes clear that Ford has been following orders and Deynolds is well aware of his double life as the pirate captain Aeson Keel and the bounty hunter Wraith. Joining the meeting by hologram are Delagates Orrin Kaar, Aletha A’lill’n, and Valon Uprecht of the House of Reason Security Council, and Legion Commander Keller. The meetings brings the legionnaires up to speed on recent events including the death of Admiral Silas Devers (no great loss), and the fact that the kill team attack on Tarrago was in direct violation of the House Security Council’s orders. Ford and Chhun are offered a chance to confess that Owens was the sole initiator of the attack on the Kesselverks Shipyards. Signing the confessions would absolve the two legionnaires of responsibility in the matter. Both sign under protest, while Kaar promises them both the Order of Centurion for their loyalty. The Delegates disconnect and Keller acknowledges that Owens is a sop to a corrupt political process, and was already convicted and sentenced to a life of hard labor on Herbeer. Keller believes that with Owens out of the way, the House will make a grab for control of the Legion. And if Keel and Chhun were to head to Herbeer and rescue Owens from prison, well, they would all be considered co-conspirators. But they would also be able to resist the House’s plans for a coup.

After a heated exchange between Keel and Chhun, Keel decides not to join Chhun’s kill team on their rescue op.

At the Grand Pavillion of the Zhee tribes on Ankalor, Republic academic Jebba Monteau meets with the Grand Kahn of the Zhee to secure the race’s help in the Republic’s fight against the Empire. Jebba, although himself an academic expert on Zhee language, history, and culture slowly realizes that he’s in over his head but insists on completing his mission. He informs the Kahn that the Republic has been building advanced warships, weapons, and armor in secret all of which will be provided to the Zhee if the Kahn agrees to use his followers as troops for use by the House of Reason to attack Empire strongholds. The Kahn agrees, and Jebba becomes the most important part of the Zhee ritual, the Paradise of a Thousand Cuts.

In the Synth mines of Herbeer, Owens becomes acquainted with the work routine. Inmates are expected to mine three grams of synth each day, and prisoners often steal synth from each other to ease the quotas. The mines are run as a Gomarii slaving operation as well, and between the liberal installation of auto-turrets and a network of corrupt guards, escape is apparently impossible. Owens is befriended by Crux, an aged Savage War veteran who’s been working the mines for years and gives him the essentials on how to survive the harsh environment. Crux introduces Owens to “Rowdy,” First Sergeant Robert Cosler, a leej who was sentenced to life on Herbeer for shooting a point instead of following an illegal order. Cosler has banded together with other such former legionnaires, who now call themselves Synth Squad and keep each other safe from the Gomarii and other prisoners.

The base at Tarrago Prime has been converted by Imperial shock troopers into a detention and interrogation facility collectively known by Imperial troops as “Camp Spirit”. Republic soldiers are encouraged to give up vital information and join the Empire and many take advantage of this offer. Some of the more enduring resistors include Captain Thales, the (former) Chief Gunnery Officer of Fortress Omicron, Captain Desaix of the (now destroyed) corvette Audacity, Jory Moncray, a crewman from the Seventh Fleet, Raptor pilot Atumna Fal, legionnaire Corporal Casso, marine Jidoo Nadoori, and Rocokizzi, gunner’s mate from the Audacity. Desaix manages to head up an escape attempt, with Casso, Nadoori, and Rocokizzi in tow. Once outside the prison they hijack a ground transport containing Thales and Fal. By eliminating guards and hacking into the Imperial S-comm, they brazen their ways onto a grounded corvette and steal it, fighting their way out of Camp Spirit, while Desaix is nearly killed dealing with a trooper who is sabotaging the jump computer. Desaix defeats the saboteur, fixes the computer, and they make a clean jump into hyperspace.

Victory Squad has taken up residence on Deep Space Survival Outpost Tully 3, one of many such outposts throughout the galaxy, which are intended to benefit stranded space travelers. A new person arrives at the station: Lao Pak, a sometime associate of Aeson Keel. Pak’s job is to get them to Herbeer in Keel’s absence.

On Herbeer, Cosler is happy enough to hand command of his squad to Owens, in order to restore some semblance of legion order to their routine; having a legionnaire Major in charge would do that. Owens accepts the post and they begin to figure out how to wreck the Gomarii slavery ring and also figure out how an escape might happen.

Despite Lao Pak’s Galaxy-class transport ship’s problems, his awful piloting skills, and the fact that Pak is carrying an MCR prisoner who he intends to sell to the Gomarii, Victory squad successfully arrives at Herbeer.

Meanwhile, Hutch and Garret have holed up in a part of the Cybar warship Mother the warbots can’t access and Garret has learned how to gain entry into the controlling AI’s internal defense network, so that they can see what the machine sees. The mechanical intelligence that runs the ship has been pitting Skrizz against the ship’s warbots to test his resolve and combat ability. Skrizz has been through a number of contests and always seems to win. Prisma Maydoon is still being held as well. After considerable study, Garret believes he can gain control of MAGNUS, the ship’s controlling intelligence. Prisma has been practicing her mind-over-matter skills and has grown them considerably.

On Herbeer, Owens, Crux, and Rowdy appear to start a fight in order to distract the Gomarii. Owens uses a Dark Ops alias, Herron Knight, to promise wealth and power if the slavers can mitigate his sentence, and move him near the control room. Owens plans to get inside the room and turn off the auto-turrets and then instigate a riot.

While this is going on, Chhun’s kill team waits aboard the Galaxy-class freighter while Lao Pak talks their way into the mine’s docking bay, using the MCR prisoner as a shield.

Onboard Mother, it is revealed that MAGNUS has been micromanaging the conflict between the MCR and the Republic, and the Empire as a strategy meant to get the warring factions to wipe each other out, or at least to exhaust each other’s military capabilities. To that end, it has been sending organic replicants to strategic locations to facilitate chaos. The attack on X, Bantaar Reef, the Battle of Muratawa, and the destruction of the mining base on Jasilaar 9 were all due to replicants operating on MAGNUS’s orders. MAGNUS learns that there is another far more alien intelligence lurking within its programming…and it will make itself known in good time.

On Herbeer, Owens’ riot breaks out just as Chhun’s kill team infiltrates the mine. More by chance than planning, Chhun makes contact with Owens inside the control center, and now their mission is to shut down the auto-turret controls before the defenses kill the prisoners.

During the fight, Masters and Pike are attacked (and Pike is swallowed whole) by an indigenous worm-like life form, and Masters deduces these monsters are what the auto-turrets were designed to defend against. Lao Pak sees the fight on monitors and abandons Chhun’s team to its fate. Owens and Chuun’s team put down the Gomarii and break into the guarded section of the mine to find that there are hundreds of prisoners waiting in cages, to be sold in the Gomarii slave market. Owens recognizes one as Lt. Pratell, and surmises that the operation is used to silence the Republic’s political opponents.

At this point everyone with a working blaster is attacking the creature that is still rampaging through the mine, eating what it can catch. Pike however is still conscious and triggers a belt of grenades he was wearing when the attack came. The blast destroys the monster. Owens gets on the comm and declares that the Legion is now in control of the facility.

In the aftermath of the inmate rebellion, the former prisoners re-purpose a Republic shuttle for use after locating it in a maintenance bay, before it had been stripped for parts. Owens and Victory squad are due to leave the planet, while Rowdy and Synth Squad remain behind to run the prison, with Lt. Pratell as their new CO. Crux, who died in the fight, will receive a proper leej burial aboard the Mercutio. Owens contacts the Mercutio from orbit informing them of the situation, and plans a rendezvous with the destroyer.

On the planet Wayste, Ravi and Keel head into the deep desert to locate the remains of Kael Maydoon and do so with local help, but are intercepted by Imperial shock troopers. Keel recognizes one of them: Exo.

My Thoughts:

Whoever has been writing these synopses has my admiration and I’d place them against Mr Torval (the guy who has been writing the Wheel of Time synopses) and call it a dead heat. Place your bets now, folks, step right up, step right up, place your bets on who can write a longer synospses! All wagers accepted, except for used pancakes, we refuse to bet with used pancakes, step right up, step right up there! Place your bets, today might be your lucky day …..

This was yet another excellent entry in the Galaxy’s Edge series. Starting the book out with adding “replicants” to the mix made me sit up and holler an outloud “Oh Yeah!”. Battlestar Galactica, here we come! There was also a scene where some Republic prisoners were escaping and how it was worded and everything just made me do a fist pump of excitement. It was exciting writing and brought a grin to my face.

I think I’ve finally gotten used to Captain Ford/Keel/Wraith all being the same person. One man having 3 different personnas and names was a bit confusing but I think its all sorted now. It helps that he’s pretty much chosen the Rogue Keel as who he is now.

In a previous review I’d talked about how this Galaxy’s Edge universe seemed to be growing faster than ever. Well, there is another sub-series co-written called Order of the Centurion and there was another one called Dark Operator about the Dark Ops. I haven’t read any sub-series written by other authors yet and I plan on holding off doing that until I’m caught up to what Anspach and Cole have put out themselves. Michael Anderle has done something similar with his Kurtherian Universe and most of the co-written spinoffs pretty much just had his name on the cover and the contents were typical atrocious indie junk. I can’t say that is the case for Anspach and Cole but I’m keeping that in the back of my head. I do wish there were more reviews on WordPress, as when I look I found very few people have reviewed these books on their blogs.

This series continues to impress me and give me boat loads of fun reading. I look forward to each new book that comes my way. KTF!

★★★★☆

Sword of the Legion (Galaxy’s Edge #5) ★★★★☆

swordofthelegion (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained thereinshall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission 
Title:
Sword of the Legion
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #5
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 217
Words: 72K

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

In Sword of the Legion, we find Dark Ops Kill Team Victory Squad on the planet Rawl Kima in pursuit of a Mid-Core Rebel VIP. Victory Squad has been operating out of the Republic destroyer Illustrious for some time, on a continuing mission to locate and capture or kill a never-ending series of individuals who are categorized as MCR VIPs by Dark Ops. After years of this kind of activity, Captain Cohen Chhun is still a dutiful, competent soldier but the continual fighting is wearing him down emotionally.

Worse, despite the loss of the arms dealer Scarpia, Rawl Kima is a hotbed of MCR activity and Victory Squad is hard pressed to stay alive in the face of political decisions made by the local garrison commander.

Earlier, Dark Ops Major Ellek Owens and Nether Ops operative Andien Broxin are contacted by Legion Commander Keller with a new mission: they are to destroy the Kesselverks Shipyards at Tarrago Prime, which is under attack by a new player, Goth Sullus’s Black Fleet. Sullus’s goal is uncertain, but his intent is clear and the Republic must deny his fleet the use of the ship construction facilities at all costs. That calls for the best kill team they have and that is Victory Squad. And that means extracting them from the mess on Rawl Kima.

Owens contacts Captain Aeson Keel, aka Wraith, aka Captain Ford, former legionnaire, to extract Victory Squad from their current assignment with his ship the Indelible VI.

Owens’ message is simple: Keel and his crew must fight their way down to Rawl Kima, extract Victory Squad, and transport them to Tarrago Prime ASAP. Keel is intent on dealing with Silas Devers, the navy admiral who Keel discovered to be working with House of Reason Representative Orrin Karr to seize control of the Republic government. Owens assures him that as bad as Devers is, Goth Sullus’ gaining the ability to build starships by the dozen is many times worse. Keel accepts the job.

As the Indelible VI approaches Rawl Kima, Keel tries to explain his current point of view to Leenah the Enduran engineer (and former mid-core rebel), but the situation is complicated, involving a sense of duty to the Republic Legion combined with an intense need to survive the conflict that is growing around them. Additionally, Wraith’s bounty hunting career has been extremely lucrative, thanks to a huge payment by Tyrus Rechs. Leenah has a more white-and-black view of the conflict, which begins and ends with protecting Prisma Maydoon, now a part of Keel’s crew.

Keel denotes his ship “Rescue One” and contacts Victory Squad who is expecting him. The fighting on the ground grows fierce and Keel, Skrizz, and Leenah work together to lay down suppressive fire and drop the ship low enough for the surviving team members to board. Leenah especially is conflicted about the need to kill in defense of one’s allies. On its way out of the system the Illustrious attempts to force the Indelible VI to land aboard for customs violations, but Keel micro-jumps the ship to safety and introduces his crew to his old legion buddy, Cohen Chhun.

Aboard the ship, the two crews get to know each other. Masters and Prisma especially take a liking to each other, as he reminds her of a kinder, nobler version of Tyrus Rechs and he thinks she’s both brave and resourceful. Crash’s presence unnerves everyone. News of Keel’s alliance with Tyrus Rechs is good for some awe among the legionnaires.

Keel shows Victory Squad his extremely well-stocked armory and the team gears up while a holoprojected Major Owens explains the mission and provides a bit of background: Nether Ops operatives destroyed the Chiasm and Camp Forge back on Kublar. The Republic government is literally working against its own best interest and the government is in danger of fragmenting over the conflict. Owens forbids Victory Squad and the crew of the Indelible VI from going after Sullus directly. Denying him the use of the shipyards is their primary concern. Neither are they expected to secure the orbital defense gun, as that would require the team to hold until relieved and there is no relief coming.

As the freighter jumps into Tarrago system, they witness the mother of all space battles, with Black Fleet battleships and Republic Seventh Fleet capital ships flying around each other, trying to inflict as much damage as possible. Part of the problem is just identifying who the real enemies are but they assume the black fighters belong to Sullus’s fleet. Keel’s aggressive flying keeps the fighters at bay while avoiding a minefield deployed over the planet. Garret upgrades the weapons AI such that the newly upgraded missiles will fire from any direction and pursue a target in any position, then sets about upgrading Crash’s software for combat. In warbot mode, Crash deploys ahead of the ship in order to act as a fire suppression platform in advance of the ship’s landing.

Having landed the ship, Keel dons his old legion armor and feels like Wraith again, then joins the op with Victory Squad, which carries out their objective. The team picks their way through the jungle to the shipyards, and use a Black Fleet S-comm to avoid roving patrols of occupying shock troopers. Once inside the base, Victory Squad rigs the drive core of a partially constructed republic destroyer to blow as they fight their way out of the structure.

Wraith orders the Indelible VI to pick the team up and finds that hails to the ship go unanswered. Forced to rely on the ship’s hyper-enthusiastic AI computer, Keel coaxes it into flying the ship to their position and they manage to board to find the ship deserted except for Ravi.

Meanwhile, the crew of the Indelible VI awakens in the hold of the freighter Forresaw, and are introduced to Andien Broxin, agent of Nether Ops, and the Ghost Squad, the legion kill team which is aiding her. Andien explains that the Republic Seventh Fleet is gone and there are no other fleets available to stop Goth Sullus. The truth is that there were never any grand fleets; it was a propaganda tool used by the Republic to maintain order and prevent local systems from trying to gain too much power on their own. Now that the Seventh Fleet is no more, it is her intention to utilize Prisma to unlock a fleet of robotic warships known collectively as the Doomsday Fleet, a fail-safe created by the Republic House of Reason in case any attempt to wipe out the Republic should come to pass. Kael Maydoon was a principal of the project and he created a digital key that could only be activated with his daughter’s DNA. Which makes Prisma Maydoon the most important person in the galaxy at this juncture.

The true location of the Doomsday Fleet is known to no one, which meant the Forresaw needs to stop at Antilles to make use of the comm node there to discover the fleet’s true location. Ghost Squad deploys to infiltrate the base, but the op goes sideways when pre-positioned special force of shock troopers attack Andien’s team. During the fighting, Prisma is able to use a terminal and discover the location of the Doomsday fleet: a planet at the edge of the galaxy, Umanar. The surviving crew and troops return to the Forresaw and make their escape.

As she reviews the fight that got three of her men killed and then defuses a racial feud between Skrizz, the acting pilot and Ruh-Ro, the first officer/gunner, Andien realizes that her team is compromised. She can’t return to Owens or Chhun or hand Prisma over to any Republic agent as everyone is now suspect. She judges the only move that won’t give them away is to proceed directly to Umanar. At least that way the ultimate mission goal is preserved and the Republic gets its reinforcements. During the jump, Ravi gives Prisma a gift–a small marble–and a mission of her own: learn to move it with her mind.

As the Forresaw arrives at Umanar, they find no fleet per se, but only a single capital ship, of massive size and completely automated. As they land they are met by an apparent admin bot who introduces itself as CAT37 and is reluctant to answer their questions. As they descend further into the ship, they see legions of warbots kept in storage. As they arrive, CAT37 reveals that its designation stands for Capture-Acquire-Terminate, and the group is attacked by large numbers of highly advanced warbots. While fighting for Prisma’s life, crash is destroyed, and while trying to fall back to the Forresaw, the remaining members of Ghost Squad are picked off one by one.

It is revealed that the mechanical intelligence behind the Doomsday Fleet is known as CRONUS (Cybernetic Robot Organism Network Uber Sybil), a wholly self-sufficient mechanical entity, which was built under top secret conditions by the Republic military using captured Cybar technology. On top of that, CRONUS at one point came into contact with an alien intelligence from outside the galaxy and took on a new directive: the systematic eradication of all life in the galaxy.

Andien and the crew of the Six are imprisoned by CRONUS and periodically interrogated by the mechanical intelligence. In the lulls between these sessions, Prisma Maydoon manages to move Ravi’s marble with her mind.

My Thoughts:

With these synopses from Fandom, I’m probably not going to ever re-read these books. Considering that I’ve got into these two authors (Anspach and Cole) late enough, there is a huge backlog for me to work through and they really churn out the books, so it will be YEARS before I’m caught up, much less think about a re-read. With all the spin-off series, etc, this is just a huge universe to explore. The more I read, the more I want to read! I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

And I’d love to end my review with that. Short and pithy. Not being a huge fan of long reviews, as I want to spend that time reading a book, not a review, I tend to write what I would want to read. Surprisingly, which I’m sure will shock the majority of everyone who reads this, a lot of other bloggers don’t seem to share that opinion. * raises hands in disbelief * I know, right? So because I’m just such an understanding fellah and want to please everyone else, I guess I’ll write some more. I do apologize to those of you whom this development will shock. If your feelings really get hurt, please leave a comment so I can grovel appropriately and beg for your forgiveness. I live for my readers approval and accolades.

Ok, with that out of my system…

This series is simply everything I ever wanted from the Star Wars franchise. Great characters, awesome stories, huge massive veiled threats at the edge of the galaxy. I feel like this is the Star Wars That Should Have Been. I know I am constantly referring to Star Wars in these reviews, and it will continue, but I was such a huge fan of the franchise for so long, that to rediscover something that fills that void within exactly is almost miraculous. It isn’t coincidental, as I’ve heard that Anspach and Cole set out to write this series in opposition to the dumpster fire that the recent movies turned the franchise into. I for one wholeheartedly approve.

I don’t even mind that things get muddled morally. In terms of various characters following someone like Goth Sullus I mean. The authors are showing the conflict within people when a beloved institution, the Republic, is going rotten at its very core and how they choose to respond to that rot. It directly addresses what a large segment of the American population at large (yours truly included) are dealing with. But at the same time, this never ONCE gets into Message Territory. The authors keep the story first and foremost and any message is part of the story, not a Message. Really, when a Message takes precedent over the story, that is what used to be called Propaganda. A lot of books today are nothing but propaganda. Sigh.

I have to admit that the constant jumping around of groups of characters and timelines from book to book still confuses me a bit. Not as bad as the second book did, but it is still there. It is probably the main reason why I would re-read these at some point, as I’m sure I could follow the time jumps better and slot things into their appropriate place much easier second time around. It didn’t help that when I was reading this I was also having a week from hell in terms of work.

Ok, that is long enough. The My Thoughts part is almost 600 words, which considering that my average whole (according to wordpress) is just under 700, I am WAY ahead of the numbers with that synopsis!

★★★★☆

Attack of Shadows (Galaxy’s Edge #4) ★★★★☆

attackofshadows (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Attack of Shadows
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #4
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 338
Words: 84.5K

 

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

On the Black Fleet flagship Imperator, beyond Tarrago Prime, Goth Sullus begins his attack on the Galactic Republic by jumping his three new battleships, the Imperator, the Terror, and the Revenge into the Tarrago System. The plan is to launch an all-out assault on Tarrago and Tarrago Moon, which houses the grand defense of the Republic, a massive space-based gun cannon powerful enough to destroy any attacker. In addition, Tarrago is the home of the Kesselverks Shipyards which supplies capital ships to Republic Naval stations all over the galaxy. Controlling the shipyards will allow Sullus to choke off the Republic Navy’s supply lines. Taking control of the super-space gun will let him defend his new gain from any counter-attack.

The attack is being carried out with the knowledge and aid of House of Reason Delegate Orrin Kaar and Republic Navy Admiral Silas Devers, who Kaar has been grooming for command of the Navy for years. Their plan is for Sullus’s Black Fleet to seize the defense cannon and destroy the Republic Seventh Fleet while the Third Fleet, commanded by Devers, takes control of the system, allowing Kaar to dictate the terms of the Republic’s star lanes.

Sullus has plans of his own and Devers is reduced to complaining to Kaar about his being left out of the loop as the attack begins. The main objective is to kill or capture the planetary governor and declare Black Fleet rule over the system, then utilize the Kesselverks Shipyards to construct more ships for the Black Fleet.

Aboard the Terror, the tri-fighter squadron Pit Vipers launches, their pilots eager for glory and a bit of revenge as they strafe the gun emplacements of Fortress Omicron, the core of the Tarrago system’s defenses. The base has long since been infiltrated by assassins who worked to execute base personnel in key positions in order to keep the base’s defenses inoperative and their communications down.

Unfortunately for Sullus and his co-conspirators, the Republic legionnaires stationed on Tarrago are not about to allow their defenses to be breached, and are reinforced by Republic Army soldiers and Marines. Over the course of a morning, the Black Fleet’s fighter squadrons are reduced by the Republic’s combined Starfighter cover and anti-aircraft turrets, while a ground assault bogs down and quickly becomes a war of attrition between the Black Fleet troops and the defending legions.

The Republic Navy’s Seventh Fleet jumps out of hyperspace to see the Tarrago system under attack. Admiral Landoo, the fleet commanding officer, is under orders to defend the system but is less than enthusiastic about losing her fleet in the face of utter destruction. The Black Fleet’s battleships are massive, new, and never before encountered as opposed to her own ships which are more numerous but smaller, and their weapons and defenses are well known to any well-informed ship’s crew. Landoo calls Utopion for assistance as she engages the Black Fleet and is told that Admiral Devers is on the way.

The fleet engagement ensues, damaging Sullus’s battleships and doing real damage to the Seventh Fleet. A starfighter’s suicide attack on the Terror’s bridge wipes out the command structure but gunnery officer Vampa seizes the opportunity to turn the tables on Landoo’s forces, and swerves the Terror to head into the clustered formation of the republic destroyers, breaking their formation and stalling their attack. Thus distracted, the Imperator and Revenge are able to flank the Seventh Fleet and wreck a number of Republic destroyers.

As a precaution against the total loss of the system, Landoo tasks the Hammerhead Corvette Audacity with rescuing the remaining principal politicians and their families from the surface, despite its lack of weapons and resources (the ship is in the middle of a refit). Captain Desaix runs the gauntlet created by the remaining tri-fighters and lands on Fortress Omicron’s main landing pad, defies the governor’s orders for immediate lift off, and stays long enough to fill the ship with refugees.

Back in orbit, the Audacity disembarks its refugee passengers into the super-destroyer Atlantica’s hangar bay, and is immediately tasked with shielding the Seventh Fleet as its ships try to escape. Desaix intends to use the ship’s new multi-warhead torpedoes to delay the Black Fleet despite the fact that the missiles have no warheads. Through clever tactics and almost perfect timing, the corvette releases the torpedos and distracts the attacking battleships long enough for the fleet’s jump computers to pick their paths into hyperspace. The fleet jumps away and the Audacity is captured with its crew.

Back on Tarrago Prime, captives are unloaded from surviving Republic ships as the Black Fleet’s shock troopers take command of the system. Goth Sullus executes Admiral Devers for incompetence as Orrin Kaar realizes that he has no control over Sullus. Admiral Rommal, commander in chief of the Black Fleet, hails Sullus as the new Galactic Emperor, and his troops join in the salute.

 

My Thoughts:

Beyond the fact that I really enjoyed this book (probably the most in the series so far due to it being a very linear timeline this time), I’ve only have a few brief thoughts.

Anspach and Cole (the authors) do a wonderful job of portraying side characters and their motivations for joining Goth Sullus in his bid to bring down the Republic. Exo, one of the Legionnaires from the first book plays a large role and so we know already why he’s doing it. But we get fighter pilots, other Legionnaires, soldiers, etc. We get their personal stories of why they are fighting against the Republic and it becomes extremely easy to sympathize with them and even root for them. At the same time, you have the regular Legionnaires who are doing their best to hold the Republic together as they know that as bad as things are, a regime change will bring chaos and death to a huge number of worlds. And I was rooting for them too!

Make no mistake though, Goth Sullus is shown to be the figure of terror that he is. His own people are afraid to even say his name and near the end one of his generals has to decide whether to help Goth Sullus or to kill him and take his place. And the general, while a rebel, is generally portrayed as one of the good guys. On the Republic side, you get some real scumbags too. General Devers, who is an active traitor to the Republic and the character portrayed in the first book, waffles back and forth in deciding who he is going to actually support, all based on who he thinks he can get more power out of. The main politician of the Republic is using Goth Sullus without realizing that Sullus is using him. Despicable people and I wanted them to face the justice they deserved.

The battle was great too. I enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next installment with anticipation.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Kill Team (Galaxy’s Edge #3) ★★★★☆

killteam (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kill Team
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #3
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF/Space Opera
Pages: 340
Words: 85K

 

Synopsis:

From Galaxysedge.fandom.com

The Battle of Kublar rages while Victory company is extracted by the Mercutio. On the destroyer’s hangar deck the remains of Doomsday Squad spy an assault shuttle preparing to attack the Ohio-class ship bombarding the planet. Chhun, Exo, Wraith, and Specialist Kags convince the shuttle crew to let them join the assault. The marines agree, and the Ohio-class ship is boarded and captured by the legionnaires and Republic marines. The boarding parties recover snippets of data regarding who planned and executed the MCR attack.

Two months earlier, X, leader of the Nether Ops office known as the Carnivale, is preparing a new assignment known as Operation Ghost Hunter. X explains the mission to an operative code-named Tom Delo. Tom’s mission is to infiltrate the illegal arms market on Ankalor and follow the chain of contacts to the supplier who is providing the Mid Core Rebellion with their weapons.

Tom discovers the man behind the supply is known as Scarpia and begins to track him. His first contact is a local enforcer known as Frogg, who leads him to a talkative reported named Steadron. On the way to the Night Market, they are attacked by Zhee, humanoid aliens with a long history of religious zealotry. At the Night Market, Tom learns that the bombs that destroyed the Chaism and Camp Forge were MAROs, portable anti-matter bombs, and finds the republic officer going by the street name Abo can sell him two for three million credits each. On the way to the delivery site, Tom learns more about Frogg, who was once a legionnaire who was so uncontrollably violent that he was dishonorably discharged from the legion.

Frogg takes Tom to meet Scarpia, who gives Tom a mission: plant one of the acquired MAROs on the Chiasm and the other at Camp Forge. Tom goes through with the mission in order to secure his place in Scarpia’s inner circle, but increasingly chafes against his orders from X. Still, orders are orders, and Tom continues in his undercover role.

Lt. Chhun and Captain Ford get their first bit of down-time on the Mercutio and are introduced to Legion Commander Keller, who confirms the permanence of their new ranks and introduces to Captain Ellek Owens. Owens works for Dark Ops, a clandestine office that specializes in assassinations and spycraft. Owens is creating a Kill Team to go after the MCR rebels who destroyed the Chiasm and invites Chhun and Wraith to be part of it. Both accept.

Their first mission is on Kublar, along with Andien Broxin who they now learn works for Nether Ops. Andien retrieves a data cell from the Chiasm that reveals that the ship was destroyed with a MARO, difficult to get except through the illegal arms market.

Back aboard the Merutio, Owens, Chhun, and Wraith start picking troops for their squad, including Kags, Twenties, Masters, and Exo. Getting ahold of Exo is difficult as Capt. Devers has ordered Exo to be court-martialed for assaulting him on Kublar. Owens visits Devers in sick bay and violently convinces him to release Exo from the proceedings which Devers does.

Tom takes the freighter Hoplyte to meet Scarpia at Smuggler’s End, his private estate on Pthalo, with Illuria, his concubine, and attendant friends and staff. Over the next days, Scarpia alludes to a much bigger plan, one to sell the leaders of the MCR the equipment they need to launch a major attack against the Republic, while Tom and Illuria spend time together and grow closer.

Owens’ kill team travels to Utopion and locate Exo, who agrees to join the team. Their trail leads them to the various links in Tom Delo’s chain of contacts who are intercepted and interrogated one by one.

Back on Pthalo, Scarpia finally tells Tom the big plan: loading up a stolen republic corvette with crustbuster bombs and crashing it into the House of Reason on Utopion. Tom is taken aback by the magnitude of the plan but stays with his cover, agreeing to be part of it. A preliminary mission is to kill the officer who sold the MAROs to Tom back on Ankalor. Tom and Frogg take the Hoplyte to Ootani Station and succeed in killing Abo, but Frog loses control and kills three legionnaires as well. Tom arranges an escape for them aboard a life pod.

On Ankalor, Owen’s kill team is sent to interrogate the Zhee militia leader who knows the whole story of the MCR attack on Kublar and the weapons deals leading from and up to it. Missing the Zhee, they do locate Steadron who tells them the Zhee’s name: Jarref Varuud. Andien contacts Varuud who reveals Scarpia’s place in the sales and Owens declares that bringing in Scarpia is now the kill team’s primary objective.

Tom tries to figure out how to deal with the new situation; he can’t let the House of reason be destroyed as it would mean the destruction of the republic, but he can’t blow his cover, either. His relationship with Illuria deepens and she tells him the rendezvous point for the corvette-bomb: Makchuria, and also agrees to send a coded message to X via RepubNet when she heads off world on a shopping trip the next day.

Now that the location and nature of the attack is known, Owens’ team begins to train for it aboard the Intrepid, Owens’ base destroyer. They fail repeatedly using standard legionnaire doctrine and agree they need to change their tactics to board the corvette in time to avert the attack.

The day of the rendezvous, legion super-destroyers gather at Makchuria but no corvette is in sight. Tom learns from Scarpia that he merely told the MCR leaders he was on board with their plan but has actually sold the corvette to the Zhee who have a different plan in mind, a suicide mission. The corvette is actually going to Ankalor to board a battalion of Zhee fanatics and then head to Utopion. The Intrepid detects the corvette jump in above Ankalor, and changes course to pursue without the support fleet at Makchuria.

Over Utopion, Owens’ kill team boards the MCR corvette while Tom Delo takes over the bridge, and together they kill the zhee rebels and avert the attack.

Back at the Carnivale, X closes the book on Operation Ghost Hunter and Tom returns to his wife, and his daughter, Prisma.

 

My Thoughts:

Good stuff! Star Wars lives again.

I am getting really strong Karen Traviss and the Republic Commando vibes here. Except it is all good, not mixed with hatred like Traviss had for Star Wars. These Legionnaires are what the 501st should have been like instead of thugs for Vader. It is GOOD to see some heroism.

That being said, I can afford to have some complaints. First, I still mix characters up. Between first names, last names, code names and nick names, half the time I am not keeping track of who is who. Kind of annoying. Second, and bigger for me, is how the authors have chosen to skip around in time. In this book we return to the aftermath of the first book AND a timeline leading up to the first book AND a timeline leading up to the second book. I can understand why the authors wrote it this way (it keeps things moving and keeps the readers interested and doesn’t get caught up in sloggy moments) but I really like moving from Point A to Point B to Point C in a straight line. None of this connect the dots for me, thank you very much.

I wasn’t excited while I was reading but I was completely satisfied by the end. To put this in food terms (here’s a shoutout to Lashaan who always ribs me (ha!) for these food analogies), this was like a serving of Cheesecake Factory Loaded Baked Potato Tots.

CCF_Social_LoadedBakedPotatoTots (Small)

Those suckers are good! I always get them when we go to the Cheesecake Factory for our anniversary and to be honest, I’ve thought about ordering 2 or 3 servings and making that my main dish. Dipped in the sriracha sauce, mmmhmmmm! It’s not like the cheesecake, but it is warm, satisfying and filling.

I continue to be happy with these books and how the authors are handling everything (even if I don’t like how the timeline is handled). There are 9 books in this series, several spin off series and a standalone novel or two. Thank goodness it is all listed over at the Fandom page! As long as the quality stays up to par, I should have plenty more adventures in this Dumpster Fire of a Galaxy Far, Far Away!

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Galactic Outlaws (Galaxy’s Edge #2) ★★★★☆

galacticoutlaws (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Galactic Outlaws
Series: Galaxy’s Edge #2
Author: Jason Anspach & Nick Cole
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF / Space Opera
Pages: 422
Words: 105.5K

 

Synopsis:

Galaxysedge.Fandom.com

The Battle of Kublar rages while Victory Company is extracted by the Mercutio.

7 years later…

Prisma Maydoon and her warbot/droid servant, KRS-88 (Crash) arrive on Ackabar aboard the Viridian Cyclops, a freighter piloted by Captain Hogus and his Wobanki co-pilot, Skrizz. Ackabar is in the midst of a Republic police action, but despite the obvious danger Prisma is focused on finding a bounty hunter. During the fighting, Crash helps Prisma locate Tyrus Rechs, an ill-reputed bounty hunter in the port city. Conflating reputation with competence, Prisma and Crash head through the battle find Tyrus Rechs. Rechs for his part is in the field hunting a pirate known as Junga Doobantu and wondering about the choices he’s made in life.

Meanwhile Aeson Keel, captain of the Indelible VI and his holographic co-pilot Ravi land on Bantam Prime. Keel intends to pose as the bounty hunter Wraith to deliver a number of Mid-Core Rebel prisoners to the local republic legion company. However, Keel isn’t entirely forthcoming with the legionnaires: he is smuggling princess Leenah of Endura and her escort, General Lem Parrish in the ship’s secure hold, both of whom are deeply involved in the Mid-Core Rebellion against the Republic. Keel heads away from the ship to contact the local legion and poses as Wraith to find the legionnaires only to kill them when things go badly. The legion responds by sending reinforcements (including a tank) after the Indelible VI.

After a brief firefight, Keel manages a parley with legionnaire Lt. Lynne Pratell. He convinces her through clever misdirection to pay him (as Wraith) for the prisoners who he actually releases (as Keel) and avoid retribution for killing her legionnaires. Too late, one of the dying legionnaires informs her about the double cross and she vows to destroy Keel, one way or another. A flight of Preyhunter fighters pursue the freighter as it tries to achieve orbit, and the freighter escapes with some damage.

Keel allows Leenah and Parrish the run of the ship while in hyperspace. It turns out that Leenah is a skilled ship’s mechanic and she repairs the Indelible VI’s damaged shields. Arriving at Pellek, Keel contacts local pirate king Lao Pak, but not before he kills several of Pak’s men. Keel is surprised to learn that there’s no bounty or ransom for Leenah, as everyone on Endura has the title of Prince or Princess due to a local custom. He’s less surprised to learn that the Republic has a bounty on his head, courtesy of Lt. Pratell, for his actions on Bantam Prime. Pak tells him about the real prize these days, a 250 million credit bounty on a warlord known as Goth Sullus, for killing the Maydoon family. Keel keeps Leenah on board and abandons Parrish with Lao Pak, who tells him where to find his pet hacker, Garret Glover.

Still on Ackabar, Prisma and Crash locate Rechs just as another firefight breaks out between him and Junga’s crew Rechs grabs the girl and escapes on his ship the Obsidian Crow, with Crash (and Skrizz) following.

On Pellek, Keel heads to Tannespa spaceport and convinces Garret to come along on his new mission. As they talk, Garret recounts a job reprogramming a warbot for the wealthy and well-connected Maydoon family. Keel does the math and puts Garret up to talking to his contact at Trident Corp., the company which sponsored Maydoon’s reprogramming work, in hopes of planning a next move, or lining up a new job. At the Trident offices they meet Aldo Kimer (and his bodyguard/receptionist, Sentrella) who claims he knows nothing and shoos them away. A short time later, Keel, posing as Wraith, forces, Kimer to admit that he did reprogram the warbot for Maydoon’s child and that the warbot can be tracked, and that he subsequently told Goth Sullus everything to save his life. Keel gets Garret to track Crash across the galaxy, as Leenah completes repairs Keel’s ship.

Rechs, with Skrizz, Prisma and Crash in tow, jump into hyperspace to escape a fighter attack. During the lull, Prisma tells him about to her vow to seek revenge against Goth Sullus, the warlord who recently had her father, Kael Maydoon killed on the planet Wayste. She tells him about the Maydoon family’s last days on Wayste, after Kael Maydoon took the post of sector defense minister and how Sullus’s black armored mercenaries destroyed an entire settlement to make sure he died. Rechs, convinced that the girl’s intentions will literally ruin her life, decides on another path for her. Rechs decides his next destination is En Shakar.

En Shakar is an ice world, the home of Mother Ree, who Rechs (aka General Rex of the Republic Legion) rescued from the hands of the Cybar and the Republic’s political machine many years ago. It’s Rechs’s intention to leave Prisma with Ree and her monastic disciples but the girl refuses to be left behind. Rechs tries to describe the soul-killing evil of hunting people for profit but she will not be dissuaded from the path she’s chosen. Rechs accepts that hunting Goth Sullus will cement a relationship between them and rid the galaxy of a true evil. The bounty on Sullus is real enough and Rechs figures he might as well go big as he heads toward the end of his career (and probably his life). In their parting moments on the planet, Mother Ree tells Rechs that the mercenaries who work with Goth Sullus are from the Brotherhood of Vengeance and he can find them on Telos, the site of a huge campaign toward the end of the Savage Wars.

Heading to Telos, Rechs picks up more resistance from pirates and shows Prisma how to use the gun turrets in the Obsidian Crow to shoot them down. From that point on, he takes her under his wing, teaching her what he knows about tactics, equipment, and fighting.

Keel arrives on En Shakar after Rechs has gone, and Mother Ree tell him where Rechs is headed, but also that Keel will eventually have to choose whether to follow Wraith’s path or Aeson Keel’s. Finally she tell him that the Maydoon girl is to be found on Tusca.

At Telos, Rechs contacts the Brotherhood and uses a combination of psychology and extreme violence to convince several of the mercs to tell him all they know about Goth Sullus and the troops who accompany him. All Sullus’s shock troopers are former legionnaires, expert soldiers who kill without remorse. It’s a mobile operation, but their last known base was on Andalore, the site of another great battle that Rechs fought.

At Andalore, a Republic sector capitol, Rechs finds that they’ve jumped into a tense battle between Republic legionnaires and Brotherhood mercenaries. Rechs, Skrizz, Crash, and Prisma fight their way into the guarded compound to find Wraith, Leenah, Garret, and Ravi heading them off. Rechs orders Crash to shoot, but Garret’s remote programming prevents Crash from carrying out the order and temporarily scatters the pursuing legionnaires.

Wraith/Keel and Rechs put their cards on the table and exchange information. A Republic Admiral, Silas Devers, is on his way to meet Sullus. Wraith wants to kill Devers and Rechs has agreed to kill Sullus, so an alliance of sorts is called for. As the discussion closes, Rechs declares that both teams now work for him.

As fighting between the Brotherhood and the legionnaires resumes, Rechs sees a black-robed and hooded figure escaping with a data core, a device that houses the memory for the sector defense computers but can’t figure out why a thug like Sullus would want it. Rechs concludes that Sullus is a much bigger player than he thought, and gets the idea that he knows who Sullus is. Sullus escapes in his ship, Siren of Titan, and Rechs is left wondering how he’s going to fight off the legion troops.

Keel meanwhile is leading his new and expanded crew back toward the Indelible VI, and tricks a legion patrol into thinking Wraith is taking away prisoners. The ruse is discovered however and the legionnaires open fire, forcing Keel’s crew to fight through the ruined compound to escape. Prisma responds badly to the new surroundings and people on the ship, but Rechs and Keel work together to bracket the Siren of Titan as Rechs pays Keel the bounty for Sullus.

On Tusca, Keel sets a trap for Devers, intending to snipe at him from cover while Siren of Titan is docked at the spaceport, and confirms the presence of the ship but not Sullus himself. More legionnaires arrive and a firefight ensues. Rechs learns from a Brotherhood merc that Sullus has already left while a heavy mech begins a counter-attack. Rechs tells Keel to take Prisma and leave the system as Devers arrives. Keel agrees after ground fire chases Devers’s shuttle off.

Aboard his ship, Keel prepares for his assassination of Admiral Devers, donning his old legion gear as he leaves the ship and takes Twenties’ old N-18 sniper rifle with him. But as he prepares to make the shot, he is discovered by legion patrols, who attempt to capture Prisma. Ravi defends her but “dies” after absorbing multiple blaster hits.

Rechs, sensing the problem, draws the legionnaires and mercenaries to his position, calls the Obsidian Crow to him, and activates a distortion bubble in his armor as his ship detonates a Romula nuclear mine. Keel gives up his dream of revenge and escapes with his crew as Rechs, barely alive, confronts Goth Sullus. He learns that Sullus is after the War-Mind, a swarm of automated war drones, the key to which is stored in Prisma’s DNA, triggered by the data globe he took. Sullus reveals that he’s not out to fix the Republic, just to destroy it.

Sullus finally meets Devers and several other Republic admirals and tell them they may begin their attack.

 

My Thoughts:

For the record, that synopsis is over 1600 words long. Somebody is a real fan of the series to have taken the time to think that out and type it up. Thank goodness that my power as Dr. Lord Bookstooge allows me to copy/paste effortlessly now that No-Internet has been banished.

When I started reading this I have to admit I was taken off guard, as this was not the MilSF I had gotten in the first book. The tone was different, the characters were all new to me (at first) and it wasn’t about the Legions doing Legion’y things. This was about outlaws and bounty hunters and a princess and a rebellion and a little girl looking for revenge and killer robots, etc, etc.

Then it clicked with me. The first book was pure setup, the prequel book as it were. This book was what the series is meant to be like. It was meant for fans of Star Wars just like me, who had been burned and turned their back on the franchise for a variety of reasons.

Everywhere I turned was another reminder of Star Wars. The thing is, it didn’t turn me off. It was executed in such a way that it made me happy. It was what I expected from Star Wars. There is even a mysterious, robed figure with the name Goth Sullus.

I loved this story. The only downside for me was near the end, when a LOT was going on, that it felt very disjointed. I’d think I was going to read about Characters X,Y & Z in a spaceship and then when we’d switch over to their viewpoint they’d be on the ground and I was wondering how it happened.

The first book hooked me with the promise of generic MilSF, but this book has gotten its claws in me. While I’m pretty bitter about Star Wars, I feel like this can fill that void, or at least soften that hardness inside. You can’t ask for more than that for any franchise.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Odysseus Ascendant (Odyssey One #7) ★★★☆½

odysseusascendant (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Odysseus Ascendant
Series: Odyssey One #7
Author: Evan Currie
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 303
Words: 81.9K

 

Synopsis:

The Empire is done with playing around with the Priminae and their unknown allies (ie, the humans). They send an entire sector fleet to take the territory of the Priminae and to find the lone homeworld of humanity. It is up to Weston and his small group of ships to stall for time by playing tricks and being ingenious with the resources they do have.

Odysseus, the sentience on the starship of the same name, is learning what it means to be part of a group, as it must work with the humans occupying the ship. At the same time Gaia is in contact with another cosmic entity she simply calls Saul, an entity that seems apathetic (at best) or even inimical to humanity. Saul introduces himself to Odysseus at the very end of the book and pretty much just mocks the kid.

Weston and his allies hold off the Empire for a month but finally the Empire makes it to the Priminae homeworld where the remaining ships helmed by Weston prepare for a do or die last stand. Only to have the Empire’s commander pull a fast one and head to Earth. Where the Earth pulls a rabbit out of a hat with Project Prometheus and is able to wipe out any object in known space with the power of a sun. They give the Empire Commander a stand down ultimatum and he wisely takes it.

The book ends with the Commander vowing to find and destroy this super-weapon and Earth and the Priminae taking a breath and gearing up for the long haul of a fight.

 

My Thoughts:

Overall, I was pleased with my read. It was typical Currie and the action was pretty good. He dips his toes into the subject of transgender and shows what a woke author he is by including a whole conversation of 2-3 paragraphs. Token-warriors, Unite! I am opposed to the whole transgender movement and even I found it insulting.

However, while I enjoyed the action, it is become evident that Currie is just going to keep writing these as ideas strike him. With a name like Odysseus Ascendant I kept waiting for the named Sentience to do something “Ascendant”. I think my idea of Ascendant has been ruined by how it was used in the Malazan Books of the Fallen, ie, ordinary ascending into the super. Oddyseus never ascends in that sense. I kept waiting for the ship to develop super powers or do something fantastic in the battles but nope, he just “learns” stuff. Throw in the deus ex machina of Project Prometheus and I just kind of rolled my eyes.

I won’t be reading any more by Currie. What pushed me over the edge was the introduction of “Saul”. We met Central, then Gaia and the Odysseus, but to introduce another being, and to leave neon bright signs of “mystery, mystery, mystery” that even Scooby and the Gang could pick up on was a direction that I just didn’t care for. I also changed the genre designation from SF to Fantasy. Currie goes from a science setting to a deeply fantastic setting where the only explanation, an honest one, is “magic”. Sure, he covers it up with quantum this and that and science blather, but the real meaning is “magic”.

“A Decent Read” about covers this book and series. It is no where near ending but I simply don’t have the patience or reading availability for just decent reads. If you like open ended military SFF, then give this a whirl. I think book 8 just came out recently?

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dark Sky (Keiko #2) ★☆☆☆☆ DNF@5%

darksky (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Sky
Series: Keiko #2
Author: Mike Brooks
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 352/DNF@5%
Format: Digital Edition

 

My Thoughts:

Captain Ichabod Drift and the crew are on a Federation world enjoying the money they got from the hidden accounts in the previous book. Ichabod is approached by the Business Man/Crime Lord of the world and hired to pick up some financial data from another world in the system.

When the Crew arrive, they find out the contact is being blackmailed to do the Crime Lord’s dirty work. He threatens the crew with withholding the info unless they take him and his husband offworld to a safe world.

★☆☆☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

Dark Run (Keiko #1) ★★★☆½

darkrun (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Dark Run
Series: Keiko #1
Author: Mike Brooks
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 434
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Captain Ichabod Drift is the proud owner of the Keiko and the master of a rather disparate and ragamuffin crew. Before Drift became Drift however, he was someone else, someone who worked for the Federation and committed acts in their name that they disavowed. Having faked his death to escape that life, Drift is dragged back into it by his former boss. All Kelsier wants Drift to do is deliver a package to Amsterdam at a very specific time while avoiding all the tedious stuff like inspections, etc that Earth has setup. Kelsier is also paying quite handsomely.

With no way to say no, Drift agrees and counts on the greed of his crew to overlook any issues. They succeed in getting the package to Earth but don’t quite make it in time to Amsterdam. As they’re preparing to dump the cargo out in the middle of the city, they cut of the locks and discover a nuclear bomb. They immedately head out to sea and dump the bomb, where it explodes and starts a worldwide panic. The crew hide and shake the truth out of Drift. Nobody is happy with him, not at all. They all vow to get revenge on Kelsier.

With some help from their onboard hacker, the crew of the Keiko get GIA (Galaxy Intelligence Agency) credentials and forged letters telling any locals to help them out. They track Kelsier down to a hidden fortress and with the help of the local army, take him out.

The book ends with the crew deciding to stay on board and stay loyal to Drift, as they all have their own little secrets.

 

My Thoughts:

This was a very fun read and I’m thankful to SavageDave for bringing this to my attention.

I am having a hard time finding the words that I want to use for this review. This was a solid book, there was nothing wrong with it, I enjoyed it but at the same time nothing really got me excited about writing about it. I would definitely recommend others read it but I can’t really muster up the “oomph” to write the why’s and wherefore’s. I know, my apostrophes don’t really fit, sue me.

A captain with a past, a misfit crew, a first officer that is super competent yet has secrets all her own, the Laughing Man (the galaxies most efficient killer who has an electronic tattoo of a skull over his face to hide his identity), a nuclear bomb, cage fighting, an extremely diverse ethnic crew (not something I look for in my reading but I know a lot of shallow puss buckets do these days) and some good old fashioned fighting, well, this has it all. I’ve seen comparisons to Firefly and I think they’re pretty apt. I didn’t feel like I was reading a Firefly fanfic though. On the otherhand, I enjoyed Firefly, and Serenity, but it didn’t bother me that the show got cancelled so maybe I’m not a big enough fan to comment on whether this is Firefly fanfic or not.

If it is fanfic, well, I’m just going to kill myself then. Because I hate fanfic, I mean with a loathing and scorn that only an aristo can summon up for pathetic plebes doing really stupid and pointless things. His Grace, Lord Bookstooge, despises Indies and Fanfic. You may now bend the knee.

If you like space opera in any form, you’ll probably enjoy this. I did and I’m looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

The Fortress in Orion (Dead Enders #1) ★★★☆☆

fortressinoriion (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Fortress in Orion
Series: Dead Enders #1
Author: Mike Resnick
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: SFF
Pages: 306
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Nathan Pretorias, a secret agent for the Democracy, has returned from yet another impossible mission. Well, parts of him returned. Now he has been tagged to carry out a truly impossible mission:

replace the war chief Michtag, the universal dictator of the aliens fighting humanity with a clone raised by humans and trained

Nathan assembles his own team of specialists, all misfits in one way or another. They make their way to the super secret fortress on the super secret planet deep in the Coalition. They kidnap and replace General Michtag and successfully make their way back to the Democracy.

Where Nathan’s superior presents yet another impossible mission, a mission only the Dead Enders can take on.

 

My Thoughts:

While I absolutely loved Santiago and the Widowmaker series, this reminded much more of the Starship series. Space Opera at its most mediocre. There simply wasn’t any tension. While Resnick excels at telling a myth style story set in the future, he’s not so good at just telling a character story.

For an impossible fortress and impossible mission, everything went off without a hitch. No matter how good your team is, something is going to go wrong and everything is going to be flubbed up. That just didn’t happen here and so like I said, there was zero tension. If there had been a lot of action or something else, even that could be gotten past, but there really wasn’t much else.

Resnick seems to be very hit or miss for me and I have a feeling this Dead Enders trilogy is going to be a miss. I hope I am proved wrong, but I’m very much getting the same vibe from this book that I got from the middle Starship book. That does not bode well. I’m still giving this 3stars for the newness of the story but if the second book is just as blasé, I’ll be dropping the rating accordingly.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Conventions of War (Dread Empires Fall #3) ★★☆☆½

conventionsofwar (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Conventions of War
Series: Dread Empires Fall #3
Author: Walter Jon Williams
Rating: 2.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: SF
Pages: 688
Format: Digital Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Caroline Sula survives the destruction of the secret government and the Naxid takeover. She begins the counter-insurgency which leads to her becoming planetary governor of the former Capital World of the Praxis Empire. She leverages that to get a promotion and to get her own spaceship command. She uses the new tactics and does well in battle. She still has feelings for Gareth but in the end loses out to Gareth’s new wife, who has given birth to his son. She decides that the military life is the life for her.

Gareth Martinez does “fights in space” and wins and stuff. The Naxid’s end up unconditionally surrendering. Gareth doesn’t so much choose his wife and son over Sula as much as he is ambushed by the family and given no choice. Really pulls at the heart strings /sarcasm.

The Empire is at peace but everybody knows that it is only a matter of time before another war breaks out as each species tries to figure out where it stands now.

 

My Thoughts:

This book was almost 700 pages and it shouldn’t have been a jot over 300. It was simply too long without enough real story to fill it up. I found myself skipping whole pages of descriptions of almost everything and I didn’t miss one part of the essential plot. So much of the writing just felt unneccessary and almost filler-like.

The fighting, whether with Sula planet side or Gareth in space, was good stuff. However, there was zero tension and you knew they were going to win in one way or another. When you read about their second battle and you’re only on page 300, you KNOW they win. Instead of the Batman roller coaster from Six Flags (where you go upside down multiple times and do all sorts of twisty turny, stomach churning twists), this was much more akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean kiddie ride at Disneyworld. Slow and sedate and enjoyable. But not thrilling by any stretch of the imagination.

There is a whole murder mystery sub-plot that occupies most of Gareth’s time and once again, it felt like padding. You have a whole Space Empire in turmoil and we get a murder mystery? It made the Naxids seems like caricature bad guys since Gareth was able to spend so much focusing on a mystery rather than fighting against them. Once again, it totally destroyed the tension.

The whole Gareth/Sula thing. That really bugged me. I mean, really bugged me. Gareth made his vows to Terza, his new wife and she is now pregnant. Tricked or not, Gareth said the vows and made the decision. Then when Sula decides to pursue him and it appears that he might divorce his wife to be with her and the whole Family ambush right at the end of the book where he decides to stay, it felt like I had eaten one of Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler’s Mystery Sausages (Discworld reference there btw).

Each book in this trilogy dropped a half star for me. I think the quality and style of the writing was exactly the same for the whole thing whereas I was expecting improvement. So it’s not that each book gets worse, it’s that each book doesn’t improve in any way or live up to the premise held forth in the first book.

The cover is the best part of the book and that is a damning indictment no matter how you look at it. * very sad face *

★★☆☆½

bookstooge