Four years after their abandonment by the now-fallen Empire, the Commonwealth of Avalon is expanding into interstellar space and making contact with other successor states. With suspicion high on both sides, the Commonwealth and the enigmatic Wolfbane agree to hold a diplomatic meeting on Lakshmibai, a neutral world.
But Lakshmibai’s government hates off-worlders and, with the fall of the Empire, sees its chance to be rid of the hatred intruders once and for all. While Edward Stalker is besieged in their capital city, Jasmine Yamane must lead an untested army on a race against time to save the diplomats from annihilation.
And if she fails, the Battle of Lakshmibai may be the first shot in a new interstellar war.
Christopher Nuttall have a few themes that have a tendency to come back in his books. The decline of overconfident and oppressive governments as well as the decline of civilization itself certainly appears to be a favorite one. Various kinds of fanatics modelled after our own current and past history is another one. The latter one is of course a rather tempting as well as rewarding fountain of inspiration to use considering the amount of fanatics, religious or otherwise, that seems to run rampage and infest our planet these days.
This book takes the first theme, the decline of the human empire which is the foundation of the series itself, and throws in some religious nutcases based on the Indian caste system with a few dashes of one of our favorite historical villain, a certain Austrian corporal.
The result is a all-marine slug-it-out-in-the-dirt kind of story. Apart from the initial transport to this miserable planet that constitutes the location for this book there are no spaceships whatsoever. The highest off the ground we get are with a few choppers used for fire support. The story in this book can perhaps also be said to be somewhat narrower in scope than in many of Mr. Nuttall’s books. From starting out as a diplomatic mission it rather quickly turns into an issue of survival against a bunch of mad religious assholes with an even madder religious asshole as their leader.
As usual the writing is very good and you are sucked into the story without much difficulty. The level of lunacy on the side of the bad guys can sometimes be a wee bit frustrating but on the whole it is very enjoyable reading. I did find the ending to be a bit quick though. I would have liked a bit more agony as well as some dawning understanding that his world was indeed crashing down on him on the part of the prince. But that is a minor complaint.
Mr. Nuttall also managed to get in a last minute twist and tie-in to a previous book in the series in the last couple of paragraphs although I cannot say much about that one without it being a huge spoiler.
Overall yet another good book in the series.