Fleet Admiral Streth has left Rear Admiral Jeremy Strong the difficult task of holding the system of Careth until he can return with a relief fleet.
Jeremy is facing impossible odds as the Hocklyns and AIs gather a massive force to crush his fleet and the defenses he has put in place around the bear’s home planet. Cut off from the Federation, Jeremy and his people have no idea whether the Federation still exists or if the Hocklyns and the AIs have destroyed it.
In the Federation, Admiral Streth is being forced to play a game of politics to get a relief fleet approved. His biggest fear is that he won’t arrive back at Careth in time to save Admiral Strong. He knows that time is running out and he might be forced to take some desperate measures.
This book has some serious fleet action in it. It is really my type of book. I loved it. Actually, that has been true for all of the books in this series. This book takes off pretty much from where the previous one ended and, as you can see from the book blurb the Hocklyns and the AI’s are about to strike back and re-conquer Careth, or at least that is what they plan to do.
Almost the entirety of the book is about the defence of Careth. However, that is not really as “limited” as it sounds since the ramifications of this major battle are far-reaching indeed and the shape and goals of the conflict will change rather substantially due to the outcome. As in the previous book we are given a glimpse of the enemy side as well and the relationships between the humans and the Altons also develop a bit. The Altons make a rather ghastly discovery which makes the human struggle all the more important. I have to say that the nature of this discovery was not exactly a surprise though since it has been rather obvious to me what the AI’s were up to since some time. The Hocklyns also have some surprises in store for the human defenders although here as well it was fairly unsurprising what one of the Hocklyn leaders have been up to.
I only have two minor gripes with the book (small spoiler ahead). The ease by which the AI’s magically planted a virus in Ariel felt a bit to far-fetched to me. Actually, maybe three gripes because I cannot understand why they never attempt to make more AI’s given how effective they are combatting the enemy. I also have a problem with the timeframe. I have to admit that I have not gone back and really made a proper calculation but I just feel that, when adding up all the times mentioned for repairs, preparations not to mention the “Six Months Later” chapter at the end, then the time to completion that was mentioned of the nasty AI’s “little project” at the core of the galaxy have already expired.
This a minor gripes though. As I wrote above, I really loved this book. The writing is quite good. The characters are good. The space combat is really good and plentiful. The book advances the story quite a lot and, as far as I understand it, we are arriving at the conclusion of the story arc with the next book in the series. I am eagerly looking forward to this. Well not that the book series ends of course but the rest of the story.