This is a gruesome and horrifying book! It is also an impossible love story/triangle with young soldiers fighting a terrible, terrible enemy. It is very good science fiction. The author has a very vivid imagination, if not a sick one! We’re back with Marco Emery, the poet/librarian turned soldier. He’s now with his surviving basic training platoon led by, now Lieutenant Einav Ben-Ari, which include Addy, his quasi-sister, Sergeant Singh, Lailani, Beast, Elvis and a few other survivors of the battle/attack on Ft. Djemila. They have been tested in battle and for the most part, they passed the test since they are still alive. Now, they have been selected to take the fight into the depths of space. They and others are on-board the HDFS Miyari headed for NighWall Outpost.
This platoon will become part of an STC (Space Territorial Command) Brigade after they have been up-trained on NightWall. The difference between the ETC (Earth Territorial Command) and STC is like night and day. The ETC soldiers have worn out equipment and uniforms. They have been trained on outdated and unless junk. They make do with what they have and what they have isn’t much. Meanwhile, the STC has all the funding it needs. They have nicely pressed and starched uniforms, modern, highly dangerous weapons and the best care that money can buy. They are also trained to be the best of the best. On-board the HDFS Miyari, STC Company Commander Captain Coleen Petty is just the beginning of their troubles. You soon begin to hate her and her STC troops as much or nearly as much as you hate the scum. At least the scum don’t talk down to you and treat you like, well, scum!
The book moves along pretty well given that there’s a lot of conflict between the new ETC platoon and their arrogant hosts. Captain Petty runs the show as far as the soldiers are concerned although the ships Captain, a Major Sefu Marabou technically out ranks the Captain, but he only has command of his ship, not the soldiers. Captain Petty is out to make life miserable for Marco and his bunch. That is until they intercept a distress call from a moon, the Corpus Christi, orbiting the gas giant Indrani. While this distress call really annoys Captain Petty, they must answer it. It may be the last thing they ever do.
There is a lot of fighting in this book. Most of it seems to be in the dark which is the worst kind of fighting. it’s strange that none of these troops have night vision equipment. The author is very good at describing the environment on this moon and the tunnels which go down very, very deep and run all through the entire moon. Of course, these tunnels play a significant part in the story. One thing I like very much about this book and both books so far, there is always someone around with a warped since of humor. Little bits of it pop up at the most improper time (proper by my standards) and that ads to the realism of the story. Some people or soldiers just have to make a joke out of anything and any place. It happens, believe me.
I don’t necessarily agree with the way this book ends. It doesn’t sound logical or reasonable. The third book is out, “Earth Rising”, and I plan to start reading it immediately. I hope it fixes what should have happened at the end of this book, but I don’t think it will. Sometimes the author tries to be a little too human when he shouldn’t. I’ll let you figure that out.