RogerBW's Blog

Rimward Stars, Glynn Stewart 24 October 2022

2017 space-navy SF, fifth of its series. An ally of the Federation calls for help against pirates; they can't spare many ships, but they can send Captain Roberts, a hero with a reputation for winning against the odds.

A lot of people have written series in which spaceships go boom. That, it would appear, is relatively easy. What I like about this series from Stewart, and why I stick with it, is that he manages to have interesting characters and plots too, and I can't help comparing this with Jay Allan's unfortunate Call to Arms: where that was a straightforward fight of Good Navy against Evil Navy, here the sides are a bit more complex, and there are hard choices to be made. After all, nobody's particularly surprised that the enemy Commonwealth is supporting the pirates, even if the Commonwealth commander isn't happy about what he's enabling. But the pirates turn out to be a great deal more capable than anyone expected…

Mostly, though, Roberts gets to be a task force commander in a way he didn't in the last book. It's a small force, but he's still marshalling more resources than his individual ship, and having to trust his subordinates to get on with their jobs. Sometimes things go right; sometimes they go wrong and more people die.

People who get annoyed by "political correctness" (i.e. anything other than straight white men in the military) will be annoyed by this book, which is an extra bonus for me.

Of course sometimes there are just bits that haven't been read through.

Unlike his men's perfectly functional rifles, he wore a scimitar on his left hip and a modern-looking pistol on the left.

It's not at all original to say "good soldiers on side A and good soldiers on side B may find they have more in common with each other than with their respective paymasters". Sure. But it's well-handled, with considerations of what happens after the joining of forces to deal with an immediate threat; and the echoes of the previous book, which had some of the same pieces in a slightly different arrangement, aren't forgotten here. And there are even some good civilians here, almost unheard-of in milsf.

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Previous in series: Q-Ship Chameleon | Series: Castle Federation | Next in series: Operation Medusa

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