The conclusion to the third Ark Royal trilogy!
The Second Interstellar War – pitting humans and their Tadpole allies against an enigmatic alien empire – appears to have stalemated. Neither side can push through to the other’s core systems without risking substantial losses, neither side can gain a decisive advantage. But when a brilliant human scientist invents a way to jump across the stars without a gravity tramline, an opportunity arises to strike the enemy in their undefended rear. It is an opportunity that cannot be allowed to pass.
Now, HMS Vanguard and her crew – and the largest fleet ever assembled by the nations of Earth – heads out on a do-or-die mission to challenge their enemies to one final battle …
… And if they lose, they will never see home again.
Another good, solid read in the military science fiction genre from Christopher Nuttall. As the book blurb states humanity finally gets an edge over the enemy…or do they? It is an experimental device and a one shot one at that, and the enemies technical superiority when it comes to missiles is still there. This is a book with fierce battles as well as sacrifices.
The book starts off with a bit of stage setting and preparations for the big offensive. As usual there are some political battles to fight as well. Once the mission takes off the action begins. Even with the initial jump without a tramline the humans have some heavy fighting to do before they are in a position to strike at the heart of their enemies.
Along the line they get a few more insights into the enemy they are facing. That includes their FTL communications. Not that the latter made a huge impact on the outcome though. It is pretty much one slug feast after another. As usual the combat scenes are well done and they are glued together with a fairly solid story as well as good characters and interaction between them during the lulls in the fighting.
One thing that I was a bit unhappy about was the fact that the enemy managed to shoot up Vanguard quite badly just in about every engagement and then she popped back with fresh repairs in time for the next battle. Reminded me a bit of Star Trek Voyager. It was constantly mentioned in the book how advanced her armor was and that it was so many times better than Ark Royal herself. Personally I would have liked Vanguard to be a bit more sturdy since she and her crew is the core of the story arc after all.
Once the dust clears it is time to count the causalities and, sadly, there are indeed some of the names we have learned to know that certainly will not be carried over to any future books in the series should Mr. Nuttall decide to write any. Personally I hope the series will continue since it has provided me with many hours of enjoyable reading so far. These books are well written with the usual good story, good characters and good battles, whether they are on the ground or in space, as we have come to expect from Mr. Nuttall.