Symbionts: Good, solid hard military science fiction.

SymbiontsSymbionts (Warstrider #4) by Ian Douglas (alias for William H. Keith Jr.)
My rating: 8 out of 10 stars

Dev Cameron helped the rebel Confederation defeat the Hegemony forces at Herakles, but his experience merging with an alien Naga consciousness has changed him irrevocably, and the rebellion rages on. After the passive DalRiss unexpectedly attack the Hegemony, Dev and Katya Alessandro are sent to meet with the aliens to determine if they have a common enemy. Their mission is critical to the success of the Confederation, but the difficulty of understanding truly alien intelligences makes a meaningful alliance unlikely, and doubts about Dev’s capabilities loom even as he may be the only one able to make contact.

This is another good, solid book in the Warstrider series. In the last book, Jackers, the aliens are almost not present at all. I was a bit unhappy about that. In this book however the aliens are back. As a matter of fact, most of the book focuses on the DalRiss and the Confederation trying to communicate with them with the ultimate goal of turning them into allies. Needless to say the Confederation are having somewhat better results than the Japanese with their arrogant we-are-better-than-everyone-and-everything-else attitude.

I quite liked this book. It is probably the best one in the series so far. It is not just another Mechwarrior romp where the bulk of the story is devoted to big machines bashing each other but there is actually a good story behind it. Sure, there is quite a bit of fighting going on but a lot of the book is devoted to the interaction between the DalRiss and the humans from the Confederation. There are plenty of developments going on, character development and other developments. The author have created not one but two alien races with character traits, physiology and way of thinking that are wildly different from both the humans and between the two alien races as well. I find this quite well done.

The Hegemony is of course still the big bad enemy and again the book builds up to a confrontation between the Confederation and the Hegemony at the end. Given the book’s name I would say it is not much of a spoiler when I write that the DalRiss as well as the Naga play an important role in foiling the Hegemony’s plans. The ending, part of it at least, was perhaps intended to be a bit of a shocker but I have to say that I was not entirely surprised.

This is a good solid book. It is much more intelligent than a lot of the books out there that focuses on military hardware. The name Warstrider was suitable for the first book, which gave the series its name, but now I would say that it is mildly misleading. This book series is about so much more than just Warstriders.

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