Six months ago, Colonel Edward Stalker and his Marines were abandoned on Avalon, left to fend for themselves as the Empire withdrew from the Rim. Since then, Avalon has been isolated from the settled universe…until now.
As a mysterious pirate organisation attempts to take over Avalon, the Marines find themselves struggling against a shadowy figure with dreams of power, while a young civilian is kidnapped and press-ganged into a pirate crew. They’re fighting to preserve something of the Empire’s order in the wake of its departure, but the pirates appear to have far greater resources and a plan that seems unstoppable.
The Empire is gone. What will take its place?
This book has more pirates than marines. Well, at least in terms of number of pirates versus marines. When reading the book it sure felt like most of the book were about the pirates rather than the marines but thinking about it afterwards there were indeed quite a bit marine action as well so maybe this was just my impression.
After managing to get some order on Avalon and have some hopes for the future a grouping of pirates rudely crash the party, abduct several people and tries to take control of Avalon itself. Needless to say the marines have some objections to this.
As it turns out the pirates are not just a group of pirates but have a surprisingly large organization behind them. The book alternates between the marines attempts to foil the pirates plans and the kidnapped people’s, especially one of the kidnapped people, attempts to survive and ultimately free themselves. In the end the latter goals coincide with the marine’s goals. A good chunk of the book depicts the life among the pirates, the struggle to survive and the implementation of the plans to break free. As I wrote it felt like this was really the main part of the book.
As usual with a book from Christopher Nuttall, at least the ones that I have read, the writing is good, the characters are well done as are the action. The main reason for me giving this book “only” 7 out of 10 stars is purely subjective. I am not a professional reviewer after all so you have to expect that some of my personal feelings are creeping into my reviews. As with the previous book the overall theme is a bit depressing with the empire’s decline and everything going to hell. At the end of the last book there was some hope but this book kind of puts that hope on hold. There is little advancement towards the goal of building a sustainable civilization and getting back on track so to say. Now, all of this is probably very realistic if it would have been a real situation but it still kind of subdued my mood a bit when reading. Also, I am not too fond of kidnapping scenarios. Again just my personal and very subjective opinion.
The book have a good enough ending but it also leaves a few loose ends. In particular, from where did the pirates get the funding? I guess we will see some tie-ins to this later in the series. If not I will be a wee bit disappointed.
Anyway, the bottom line is that this is a very good book, any criticism I have is purely subjective and the next one in the series have already ended up on my to-read shelf.