I actually started reading the second book in this series until I realized that there was a series. So, I got as far as the third chapter in the second book (What Price Honor) and stopped to read this one. I’m very glad I did. Right up front, these are very well written books for Amazon ebooks. I have gotten very skeptical of Amazon ebooks lately since they are so cheap you almost expect and I have been getting what I paid for, cheaply written, hard to read books! Again, no so with Hard Duty nor with the follow-on.
The writing flows smoothly and is effortless to read. What does make these books very interesting is the fact that there are actually several stores told, each separately with very little tie-in until I believe the very last. This is about an Earth-led Alliance making first contact with a new alien race, the Shan. It is also introduces us to a group of warriors called Vipers who will play a very important part in the upcoming Merkiarri War. Now Earth has already met and defeated the Merkiarri but that alien race is all about conquest. You do not have peace with the Merkiarri until every one of them are dead! Earth has learned a hard lesson in that while we thought we were alone in the entire universe and tried every which way we knew to make contact with other life, that other life found us quite easily and wanted to destroy us! Not what we had planned.
Still, we have set out to still find other civilizations, if they exist, but we do so very, very quietly. We have found the Shan and have studied them for some time. They have also had their run-in with the Merkairri and are just now recovering. They do not explore outside their solar system but have been able to develop adequate defenses against future Merkairri attacks, or so they believe.
An Earth exploratory scientific vessel has found the Shan doing exactly what Earth did to attract the Merkairri. We want to warn them but don’t want them to think we are hostile. How the Captain of the Earth ship Canada does his mission in relation to the Shan is a fascinating story.
Then the Merkairri attack!