When Sameena’s brother accidentally annoys a religious leader on her homeworld, her entire family is targeted for elimination. Forced to flee to save her life, Sameena stows away on a trader starship and is eventually welcomed into the crew, embracing their very different culture and making a new life for herself amongst the stars.
But the Galactic Empire is starting the final descent into chaos and her new home is on the verge of collapse, while secretive forces are maneuvering to take advantage of the Empire’s collapse. If Sameena cannot find a way to keep some small part of civilization intact, the galaxy will crash into a new dark age that will last far longer than a thousand years.
This is one of the books in this book series where the author decided to just jump out of the main plot almost entirely and write a book about a different set of persons in The Empire’s Corps universe. There are no marines in this book, well except for a retired one, and except for a short tie in at the end it has nothing whatsoever to do with the struggles of the Commonwealth and Avalon. I am still sitting on the fence as to whether I like this somewhat disrupted storyline or not. Normally I do not like when an author goes off like that but these books are really good so I feel I cannot complain too much.
Anyway, in this book we follow Sameena after, as the book blurb states, some of the religious leaders of her planet got a grudge against her family. As a matter of fact the entire planet is governed by the worst kind of fanatical Islamists who try to keep their population in total ignorance. It is of course not made better by the fact that they consider females to be not much more than slaves that should do as they are told and nothing more. Thus Sameena is in for quite a bit of surprises and difficulties when she gradually discovers how much of her life that have been a lie and has to adapt to a free society. I am not sure what I expected after reading the book blurb but I think I expected something else. This would not be the first time this author have surprised me a bit though. So far it has never been in a bad way.
A lot of the book deals with Sameena growing into this trader society that rather quickly more or less adopts her. This fairly non-military story with its trading, trader contracts, buying and selling of ships and merchandize is normally little bit out of my comfort zone for science fiction but I have to say that I found it to be enjoyable reading nevertheless. As usual Mr. Nuttal makes the characters interesting and makes you care about them or at least care about what is going to happen next. His writing is a reasonable mix between providing details and advancing the story and although I am more of a military sci-fi person I still liked these parts of the book.
Luckily, from my point of view at least, it is not all about building a trading empire. Sameena have to crack a few eggs while doing so and the necessity for backing herself up with some military hardware soon becomes evident. During the later parts of the book the action escalates quite rapidly and eventually the previously mentioned Islamist fanatics (lunatics) creeps back into the story. Lets just say that the solution to that little problem is not obtained via diplomatic channels.
On the whole a very good book. I could pick a few books by Mr. Nuttall that I liked even more but this one is still a very enjoyable book and, as usual, I am looking forward to when I start to read the next book by this author.