This was a very good story. We continue the series from the point where the Kleese have finally realized that these humans and their Alliance might be a problem after all. They have a new military leader, a Zaltule of the Warrior class, called Supreme Military Overlord Harmock. He is intent on wiping out all the humans and their allies.
This book covers several different military operations which all come together pretty much at the end. Initially, a medium sized group of Marines are deposited on a planet that has a number of Zaltule in control. After being dropped on the planet, the Naval Fleet is attacked and begins defending themselves.
Admiral Adamson soon finds out that his Human and Alliance Fleet just isn’t big enough to defeat the Zaltule fleet in the vicinity of the planet where the Marines were dropped. He tries everything he can to get back to that planet and pickup the Marines, but fails to get them all. They have to leave some where around 240 Marines on the planet.
These stranded Marines know they are in deep trouble. Among this group is Lieutenant Ryan Nelson, brother to Colonel (Col) Wade Nelson. Col Nelson is aboard Admiral Adamson’s flag ship and he also tries everything possible to rescue his brother and the rest of his Marines, but it isn’t going to happen. The fleet does manage to place a drop ship down on the planet so the Marines will have enough supplies even though no one knows when the fleet will make it back.
They do know that the Zaltule won’t let the Marines just stay on the planet. Sure enough, while the Marines are trying to hold onto the space port, a drop ship full of Zaltule comes down for them. They expect to be blasted from space, but instead, all the Marines are hit with a stun ray. They wake up later to find themselves on a Zaltule warship wearing collars of obedience. They are now prisoners of the Zaltule!
Meanwhile, Admiral Adamson and Col. Nelson are trying to figure out a way to go after their Marines. Due to some intelligence, they know where they’re heading…straight for the Zaltule home world. Apparently, the Supreme Military Overlord wants to interrogate and test these Marines to find out why they are giving the Zaltule so many problems. All Zaltule are superior to any other race or so the Zaltule have always thought. They believe the Humans are vermin just like all the other sub-races, except for Military Overlord Harmock. He has a suspicion that these Humans are every bit the equal of the Zaltule and my even be superior. He needs to find out why.
Admiral Adamson knows that the Deltons, a new Alliance member race, want to try and rescue as many of their top minds from their planet. Unfortunately, their planet is very, very close to the Zaltule home system. Still, a plan is drawn up to do the rescue of the Deltons, and also to find and free the captured Marines, if possible.
I find the story to be very logically laid out. Some of the things they have to do are very risky, but that’s what war is all about. Risk taking is almost a way of life for the military. Those that don’t take risks, usually have to fight a defensive battle all the time and can be worn down over time. Being bold and risk takers makes the humans and their alliance partners very unpredictable to the Zaltule. So far they haven’t figured out that’s how humans fight.
I like that the author doesn’t dwell on missile count or on the number of ships in this fleet or that fleet. Sometimes authors try to turn their readers into accountants by itemizing every little thing in a battle. This author tells the high points and provides the reason one side wins and then moves on. That’s good writing as far as I’m concerned. He also makes his stories cover multiple events during each book. It’s not just about one battle and one group of people. Here in this book we follow several streams of action which nicely come to a great ending.
I would encourage anyone who likes science fiction and especially military sci-fi to read this series from the beginning. This is very, very good storytelling.