In the year 2420, war looms between the galaxy’s two most powerful empires: the tyrannical Theocracy and the protectionist Commonwealth. Caught in the middle sits the occupied outpost system Cadiz, where young officer and aristocrat Katherine “Kat” Falcone finds herself prematurely promoted at the behest of her powerful father. Against her own wishes, Kat is sent to command the Commonwealth navy’s newest warship, Lightning.
Determined to prove she has value beyond her family name, Kat struggles to earn her crew’s respect and find her footing as the youngest captain in naval history. She soon discovers the situation on Cadiz is even worse than anyone in power anticipated. War isn’t just a possibility—it is imminent. Yet the admiral in position to bolster defenses refuses to prepare for a fight. Can Kat find a way to investigate the enemy, alert the Commonwealth, and whip an entire fleet into fighting shape before the Theocracy’s war machine destroys everything she holds dear?
I have to say that I am quite amazed at the productivity of Christopher Nuttall. With The Oncoming Storm he has managed to start yet another great book series. I am actually quite concerned that he is going to overstretch himself sooner or later. So far however, he has managed to keep up both his frantic writing pace and the quality of his books.
The story of this book definitely falls into the “my cup of tea” category for me. It is a true space opera with two (so far) space empires going head to head. It has a strong and likable lead character. It is as well written as one has come to expect from the author. There are a fair amount of action of course. There are also a fair amount of political BS and utterly incompetent naval officers. Well, there are actually mainly one utterly incompetent real hole in the rear end of a horse but he is, unfortunately, in a position to make a substantial amount of damage.
I guess people will be quick to make comparisons with David Weber’s Honor Harrington series and sure, you can find similarities but it is almost impossible to write a space opera about a female naval officer slugging her way through the cragmire of political nonsense while trying to save her empire without there being similarities. Having similarities is not the same things as being a blatant copy and this book is definitely a Mr. Nuttall style book and not a Mr. Weber one.
As the book blurb states, Kat Falcone’s new posting is not what it first looks like and apart from the not so slight problem of acquiring the confidence of her crew she has to deal with an Admiral who’s stupidity would fill a book by itself. Luckily Mr. Nuttall did not fill the book solely with the Admiral’s blunders. Kat manages, not surprisingly, to discover the hammer that is about to fall on Cadiz, and a few other planets. That does not mean that all goes well though, far from it, but at least the war did not end with the first book and both parties in this conflict got to take a healthy bite of the shit-sandwich that was served.
Although Kat is undoubtedly the lead character she is not alone. There are several other characters, like her XO, that plays important roles in the story and these characters are as well done as the lead character. As usual Mr. Nuttall’s writing is a mix of adventure, action, character descriptions and world building including the political power plays and their, often disastrous, effects both in the past and the present.
One thing that I like with this book is that it is much more of an adventure in a positive spirit, if one can say that about a war-story, than some of his book series like, for instance, The Empire’s Corps which pretty much is based around the concept of the empire and our civilisation going down the drain. In this book the bad guys do not manage to destroy everything and the good guys do manage to land a few good punches.
As I wrote, this is a great start of a new book series. Mr. Nuttall has done some nice world building for future adventures in this war and I am certainly looking forward to read the next instalment. I just hope that Mr. Nuttall is not taking on too much because there are several other book series from Mr. Nuttall where I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment. I would say to Mr. Nuttall, take your time and do not let the pressure make you churn out the books too fast. I much rather have quality before quantity.