The Confederation has fought three wars against the forces of the totalitarian Union. Three generations of its warriors have gone off to war, held the line against the larger, more powerful enemy. Now the fourth conflict is imminent, and the Confederation’s navy is on alert, positioned behind the frontier, waiting for the attack it knows is coming.
The battleship Dauntless has spent the past ten months patrolling the border, deployed far forward of the main fleet, a forlorn hope, an advance guard positioned to give the warning of invasion. But no attack has come. Her crew is exhausted, and the aging battleship needs maintenance. With the fleet mobilized and the forward bases overloaded beyond capacity, she is sent clear across the Confederation, to a planet along the quiet and peaceful far frontier. Her crew is looking forward to a rest, and Dauntless herself is scheduled for a long-overdue maintenance session.
But the quiet frontier isn’t what it seems…and when a distress call is received from one of the mining colonies on the edge of Confederation space, it falls to Captain Tyler Barron to take Dauntless forward, to find out what is happening, and to put a stop to it.
Barron and his crew have their ship—and each other—but they can expect no other help. Suspicion is strong that Union deceit is at play, that the attack is some sort of diversion, intended to draw Confederation forces from the disputed border. The orders are clear. No ships will be transferred from the prospective battle line. Stopping whatever is happening on the rim is Barron’s responsibility, and his alone.
Barron is the grandson of the Confederation’s great hero, the father of the modern navy. His family name has always carried privilege with it, and crushing responsibility. And now he must prove that he has inherited more from his famous grandfather than name and privilege. He must face the enemy, and win the victory…before the Confederation is caught between two enemies and destroyed.
Duel in the Dark is a good start of a new series, Blood on the Stars, from Jay Allan. It is an action filled story which essentially is a prelude to an all out war. It has good world building, enjoyable characters and plenty of action.
The underlying premise of the story is the all too common one, in fiction as well as in real life. The Confederation has beaten the enemy once, actually three times, and once the threat seemed to be gone dumbass politicians have let their defense forces slip. Why spend money on defending the nation when you can be shortsighted and use the money to buy votes for the next election. Of course the threat was not gone, at least not forever, and now the bad guys are knocking on the door once again. Invasion is imminent.
In this first book we focus on Captain Tyler Barron and his battleship the Dauntless. After 10 months on the front lines Dauntless is sent on a mission intended to be somewhat of a vacation for the crew. Well, there would not be a story worth reading if that was true would there? Political machinations and backstabbing abound and Barron finds himself face to face with a unexpected and ruthless enemy in the flagship of the enemies fleet. It’s clobbertime!
For the large part of the book we get to follow the Dauntless and her crew as they go head to head with the enemy. Battleship against battleship. We get to know Captain Barron and the enemy captain in pretty much equal parts. There is plenty of action, both on the surface of the planet that resides in the playing field of the duel and, of course, in space. It is a ruthless battle and both ships have more holes in them than a Swiss cheese towards the end.
Barron and his crew are quite likable and, surprisingly enough, the enemy captain becomes almost likable towards the end. There is a second book out already so it is really not much of a spoiler when I say that Dauntless survives if only just barely.
It is a well written military science fiction story. It is quite tense, moving forward at a brisk pace and the action as well as the parts of the story that glues the action together is definitely well done.
I have no hesitation about jumping on the next book in the series.