Once before, the sentient races in the known part of the galaxy—humans, Orions, Ophiuchi and Gorm—had united to defeat alien invaders. Decades later, the member planets of the alliance had grown complacent—until a huge fleet of ships, each ship larger than a city, arrived, fleeing the loss of their home planet when their star went nova.
They have traveled for centuries, slower than light, and now that they have arrived at the world they intend to make their new home. They regard the fact that the planet is already colonized by humans as a mere inconvenience, the more so since their mode of communication is so different from anything humans use that they do not consider humans and their allies to be truly intelligent. And the arriving aliens know—or, at least, they believe—that when they die they will be reincarnated, so they do not hesitate to attack humans and their allies with suicidal fury. And, if necessary, they will exterminate all humans and their allies, if that’s what it takes to occupy the planet.
That was their attitude on arrival, but the conquerors have learned from human technology. They now know all about reactionless drives, so much more efficient than rocket engines. And they have learned about the jump points which make faster-than-light travel possible. With that knowledge, they plan to conquer the entire inhabited region of the galaxy—unless the old alliance of humans and other being can stop them . . . .
This is the 6th book in the Starfire series and the second one not written by David Weber. I found this to be a very good book with only a few negative points which makes it not quite reach a 10 out of 10 rating although that is barely. The book follows from the previous book, Exodus, fairly seamlessly. We get to follow the story from the viewpoint essentially of three different parties, the human fleet trying to push the aliens back, the humans trapped on the main occupied planet and their resistance and finally the aliens (Arduans) themselves. Each of these viewpoints are presented in quite a bit of detail and are almost small novels in their own right. As you might deduce from this the book is not one of the smaller novels around and weighs in at over 600 pages.
Speaking of detail, here the book is almost “Weberesque” in that it sometimes digs itself down in a lot of talk, talk, talk. The talking and philosophizing, especially concerning religious matters, is especially heavy when the book enters the aliens viewpoint. To me this is one of the few negative points of the book. It slows down the book and, for me, it does not really add much of value.
However, there is plenty of good value in this book that makes up for that minor negative point. The slow and painful advance of the human fleet, the planning, tactics and the fleet battles in this book is also almost “Weberesque” and this time this is a good thing. This is interleaved by the guerilla activities by the humans on the occupied planet. These parts of the book are also very good. Unfortunately there is a silly court martial in the middle of things that, to me, is the second negative thing with the book. For me that part was “get it over and done with please” pages. However, this was also a minor negative point and it was reasonably quickly over and done with.
The alien viewpoint was also quite well written and indeed interesting to read even though you, or at least I, felt that I wanted to quickly skip through the parts that dug itself down in religious philosophizing. I do not think it is much of a spoiler to say that the book ends with the humans and the aliens finally deciding to actually talk to each other before one of them are exterminated.
Peace? Well, yes…for now. The book does end with a satisfactory conclusion as far as I am concerned but, at the same time, it certainly leaves the door open for future episodes in this saga.
Bottom line: A very enjoyable book.