Rating:

3 Small Stars
Weapons Free

This book started off pretty good. I mean, I know what it’s like to be a “Reservist” in the military. You’re never considered equal to your full-time military counterparts because they only see you doing your “active” duty for just two weeks of the year, if that! My counter to that is that the Reservist concentrates on his available active duty tours to do those thing combat related that they have to be able to do. The Reservist doesn’t get bogged down by all the administrative stuff that an active office is bombarded with on a daily basis. Oh, yeah, the Reservist has to do his share of paperwork, but that’s usually done on his weekend duty periods, not during his activity duty tours. I rambled on about this because we start off this book with four Reservist pilots on a routine combat patrol during training. They are getting some good flight time in their space fighters which is required to maintain their flight status. But, out of the depth of space, come an unknown group of hostiles directly heading for an engagement with Alpha flight. It’s not training any more.

1st Lieutenant(1Lt) Justin Spencer is our main character and he’s a hot-shot star-fighter pilot! On paper, he’s just as qualified as anyone else placed in a cockpit of an SF-76 Sabre. He and three other Reserve Lieutenants form Alpha flight and are preparing for their entire world to change! The sudden attack on them isn’t just all that’s happening. Several other capital ships have just warped in and are now attacking the CSV Zvika Greengold. This is a space carrier which is thirty-five years old and pretty much belongs in the reserve fleet if anywhere. Still, the star ship is very capable when manned by a competent and highly trained crew, which, thankfully, it is today.

While Alpha flight is managing their problem with four enemy star-fighters, the CSV Greengold is now finding out just how competent the crew really is. They don’t know who their new enemy is and no one recognizes the type ships that are attacking and until they can recover debris from the battle, they know they just have to survive or the debris will be their ship floating dead in space. Since the star ship was on a training mission, they don’t have a full complement of everything they would take to war, but war has apparently came to them. It’s always a possibility, but usually never happens, but when a military person goes onto a base or a star ship, in this situation, the first thing that usually happens when the base or star ship goes into combat is that all outside communications stop! That means there’s no calling your spouse or significant other and letting them know you won’t be home for dinner! And you might not be able to contact those people again for a long time. This is what’s happened to Alpha flight and the young Lieutenants who are now caught up in an unexpected war.

Still, the biggest thing they really have to worry about is staying alive. As a star carrier, the ship doesn’t have a lot of external weapons. She relies on her starcraft to provide protection and right now there are just too few of the available. And those pilots they do have are not as experienced as you’d like to have, but they will get that experience very quickly as Alpha flight finds out. There’s a lot of combat in this book. When they mention having a target rich environment, that’s exactly what happens to the CSV Zvika Greengold. It is out number in every engagement in this book! That makes for an exciting read, so that part I did really enjoy.

It will also be a surprise to everyone when they do find out who their new enemy really is. They didn’t think this would happen, but it has and now they are in for the fight of their lives. While the enemy is a surprise and an interesting twist on the story, I was immediately turned off by the military organization used in this book. First, and this just might be my opinion, these star ships should be part of a space Navy. That means their officer and enlisted ranks should be Navy whereas the Captain of the star ship is most likely a full-bird Captain. His Executive Officer or Second in Command should be a Commander. In this book we have a Colonel and a Major as Captain and XO. Why a Major is totally unknown and not reasonable. Then the Commander, Air Group (CAG) should be either a Commander or Lieutenant Commander, but once again, we have a Major. That just throws off the whole military scheme in my opinion. If you’re going to write a story about the military, then get the organization right. It’s not that hard. Secondly, there’s way too much “survivability” with this Alpha Flight. They see a lot of very heavy combat which should have resulted in casualties, some very close to home, but not in this book. Very unrealistic. So, there are my rants about this book. I have a few others that I won’t mention since they are my own very personal dislikes, but I’ll just say I probably won’t be reading any more of the series.

Still, it looks like this story will continue since the war has apparently just started. It looks like their are two more books in the series already available. So that’s good for anyone who really enjoyed this first book.