War. The word spreads throughout the Confederation…the long-expected Union invasion has come. The enemy is strong, their fleets larger and more powerful than intelligence reports had predicted. They have broken through the forward defenses, sent the Confederation’s proud fleets into an ignominious retreat.
Captain Tyler Barron and the crew of the battleship Dauntless are lightyears from the front lines, at Archellia, waiting for their damaged battleship to be repaired. Their ship is only just operational, but there is no time. The Confederation forces need every reinforcement they can get, and Barron and his survivors board their vessel…and rush to the battle lines.
When they get there, they encounter nothing but fleeing ships and shattered fleets. The Confederation is losing the war, falling back steadily, yielding system after system to the invaders. The Union fleets continue inexorably forward, seemingly immune to the supply constraints that have bogged down past invasions. Dauntless finds herself trapped, cut off from the rest of the fleet along with another Confed battleship, and a trio of small escort vessels…deep behind the rapidly moving front lines.
Barron must make a choice. Pull back, try to find a way to get around the enemy and rejoin the fleet. Or press on, strike deep behind the enemy advance, an almost suicidal thrust toward the Union’s main logistical supply base…and the one way Tyler Barron can think of to buy the fleet the time it needs to regroup. To survive.
Call to Arms takes off were Duel in The Dark finished. The inevitable War with the oppressive, communist inspired, Union has begun and to no ones surprise it does not start well for the Confederation. That is what you get when you divert military budget to short sighted buying of votes. It is a very good piece of military science fiction adventure with a few twists, plenty of action and likable characters (heroes).
As with the previous book this one focuses primarily on the Dauntless and her crew. As before Dauntless has to take on a formidable foe with little or no support from the rest of the fleet. The rest of the fleet are running for their lives after all. Tanks to a series of twists and unexpected events Barron & Co ends up with a one-shot opportunity to strike a crippling blow to the Union war machine. Of course it is not going to be a walk in the park and the Dauntless … well let us just say that those repairs did not last very long.
Again, as in the previous book the viewpoint flips a bit back and forth between Dauntless and the Union fleet Admiral. I hesitate to say that I liked this guy, he is supposed to be a bad guy after all, but I enjoyed the character up to the end. Then it went a bit downhill. I was really eager to read about his reaction when news about Dauntless undertakings reached him but it never really came about. He just surmised what might have happened when things did not go as planned and then he went … ehhh, I guess you have to read the book to find that out. Too much of a spoiler otherwise.
There is a interesting underlying thread to the entire story arc. As advanced as these people seems to be with prosperous and expanding federations, alliances and unions, it is actually a post-apocalyptic universe. We are following what remains of some larger, more advanced empire that somehow managed to go all big bang on themselves. It is perhaps the “more advanced” parts that are the most interesting part in that it hints about forgotten technologies that might be rediscovered. Indeed, the book blurb for the next installment in this series do strongly hint that the series is going to venture down that very path.
I have to say that I am quite looking forward to this.