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Counter Strike: Doug Dandridge have produced another great book in the Empires At War series

Counter StrikeCounter Strike (Exodus: Empires at War #7) by Doug Dandridge
My rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Sean and the Empire have fought their way out of the corner. Now it’s time to strike back. The Ca’cadasans have been hit hard, but they are not yet out of the fight.

The ambush worked, to a point. The Cacas took grievous losses, but still retain a powerful force in Imperial Space. And they have sent for the ships they had besieging the New Terran Republic to back them up. The Donut, the enormous station used to generate the wormholes that are the Empire’s major technological edge, is in danger with Cacas aboard, and Imperial troops have been cut off in Fenri space. Despite the setbacks, now is not the time to let up, and the Empire plans a Counter Strike to remove the Cacas from the Empire. The plan is risky, but if it succeeds the fortunes of the war will turn. And if it fails, the Empire will be one step closer to going under.

This is a great book, at least for me. It is just my cup of tea. There are space battles, there are ground battles, there are great characters, there are some despicable and not so great characters as well but I will get to that, there is a well written story, there are heroics, there are…well a lot of enjoyable stuff. In short this book really have most, actually everything, that I want in a great space opera.

As with the previous books this one follows more or less seamlessly from the previous book in the series. There are still fighting going on to save the black hole station and the humans are rallying to, as the book blurb states, strike back at the Ca’cadasans. I do not think I am spoiling things too much by saying that I am happy that the situation at the black hole station gets resolved fairly early in the book. After all, if the station would have been lost the war would have been lost and the book series pretty much done with. I also have never liked those infiltration, deception and backstabbing kind of story elements. Clobbertime with capital ships are more my kind of story.

We again get to follow several main characters, including a few from the Ca’cadasan side although the latter ones not in so much detail which I think is the way it should be. Mr. Dandridge’s writing is very good as usual and it is very enjoyable to follow the story and the characters develop whether it is in space or on the ground (although I do prefer the “space stuff”). The emperor himself is not that much at the center of the action any more which is of course logical. You cannot have the head of state run around doing hand to hand combat.

There are some characters, political idiots as well as just idiots, that have snuck in and spoiled a few pages. There are especially one political individual who makes me want to go fast forward a page or two. I really hate characters that will go to such lengths as to obstruct the war effort at a time when the survival of the human race is at stake. Luckily these elements of the plot are sparse and not very intrusive.

Well, as the title states, in this book the humans do counter strike. Although it is not the almighty, roll over the enemy, that one might think. Casualties are high on both sides and, even though the humans manage to more or less kick out the Ca’cadasans from their space, the war is far from over. At the end there is also a plot twist, which I will not divulge of course, which seems to indicate that the series will take a bit of a detour from “just” fighting Ca’cadasans. The exploration expeditions also makes a new alien contact and this one I like a lot more than the one in the previous book. As a matter of fact, this new species looks like it might be just what the doctor ordered against the Ca’cadasans.

The book has, without ending too much in a cliffhanger, set the stage for some interesting books to follow and still it manages to have a decent conclusion to this chapter of the story. I am eagerly waiting for the next instalment in this series.

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