“When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
“And down will come baby, cradle and all.”
The Galactic Empire is dying. In their high towers, the Grand Senators plot and struggle to grasp a larger share of power while on the streets, the poor struggle to survive just one more day. Chaos and anarchy are running through the megacities of Earth, while giant corporations tighten the screws and colony worlds plot to declare independence and escape the Empire’s increasing demands for resources. Centuries of mismanagement are finally catching up with the human race. The end cannot be long delayed.
Specialist Belinda Lawson, a Marine Pathfinder who survived the fighting on Han, is assigned to serve as a bodyguard to the Childe Roland, the Heir to the Imperial Throne, and attempt to prepare him to be Emperor. But Roland is a puppet and a spoilt brat – and, perhaps, the only hope of saving the Empire, if he can be redeemed in time.
And yet, as shadowy figures prepare to make their final bid for apotheosis – or nemesis – it may be all she can do to keep her young charge alive.
Another reviewer on Goodreads wrote: “Christopher Nuttall’s writing is still as solid in this book as the previous two, so it pains me to only give it 3 stars…”. I share the same sentiment. If I were a 100% objective and professional reviewer I would (should) give this book a higher rating but I am not a professional reviewer and my ratings do reflect my personal feelings about every book I review. I have to say that I, after reading the blurb and some of the reviews, was somewhat prepared not to enjoy this book as much as the other books from Mr. Nuttall.
As was written above, the writing is as solid as one would expect from Mr. Nuttall. However this book is somewhat of a detour from the story that started in The Empire’s Corps. Sure, it is in the same universe and describes an important part of the events that unfolds in that universe but it is not at all about Captain Stalker and his marines on Avalon. The main character, which I really liked by the way, is indeed a marine but that is about as much marines that we get in this book. I rarely like when a series makes us get to know a set of main characters and them jumps completely away from them like this.
The book is also very very depressing. As can be deduced from the book blurb this book is about the downfall of The Empire and it is not pretty. The book revolves a lot around political machinations, gross mismanagement and manipulation of stupid mobs of people. I found it very depressing and there are really not any glimpses of light in the story, not even the end. It is downhill all the way.
The book itself is actually very good, well written as always when Mr. Nuttall stands for the writing, but my enjoyment of the book is muted by these two facts that I mentioned above. As I wrote, the book describes important events in the universe of The Empire’s Corps and although one could probably sidestep this book and go straight to book number four in the series if one only wanted to continue the story of the marines stranded on Avalon I do not think that I would have wanted to miss this book, even though I struggled a bit with it.