Rating:

5 Small Stars
Alien Empress

Another book in one of the better long running series. This is truly a military science fiction book. The story of Rade Galaal continues with his now civilian “security service” group called the Argonauts. The Argonauts are a group of ex-mliltary ex-MOTHs (MObile Tactical Humans) who now have to work for a living. They have acquired a new client, Surus, a Green Phant who is trying to rid the human galaxy of Black Phants who are the enemy of all humanity. In ordered for Phants to interact with humans, they have to occupy a metal container either surgically and painfully attached to an uncooperative human on in the case of Green Phants they occupy Artificial constructs (Androids) with their consent. So, Surus is occupying an Artificial called Emilia Bounty. Due to her releasing several Tech Class IV patents to humanity, Surus has a considerable fortune which she/it uses to hunt down the Black Phants. That money is now flowing to the Argonauts whom she has hired.

None of the Argonauts have any problems with hunting down and exterminating Black Phants. Earth and humanity has already fought wars against the Phants and with the help of the Green Phants have so far defeated them. The Black Phants used to have means of reaching the human galaxy almost instantaneously, but that was destroyed in the last war. Now they are still coming for humanity only they will take another six years to reach us. In the meantime, the Argonauts missions continue under the employment of Surus, until now. Surus has learned that her home world is under attack and is about to be destroyed by a race they have formerly conquered. While the Green Phants weren’t part of that conquest, all Phants have now become the enemy of the Hydras. So Surus tells the Argonauts she must leave and they are free to do whatever other work they can find.

Of course the Argonauts know that their previous security consultant work was pretty boring and didn’t pay nearly as well as what Surus pay. So, they all “volunteer” to assist her and the Green Phants in defending their homeworld. Now they are off on another adventure/mission which has a high probability of them not coming back. They don’t know who the Hydra are and have no idea how they might help the Phants in their war, but if Surus didn’t think they could contribute, she wouldn’t have agreed to them joining her. So, off they go into the unknown. It’s an exciting story with lots of fighting and one of the Argonauts coming near death while one does die, sort of. Shaw and Rade are still a madly in love couple and it gets a little tiring to hear about their love tryst all the time. It’s also really unfair to the others that Rade has Shaw along to relieve his tensions, so to speak. They also don’t try to hide what they are doing all the time. I think it would be fitting for the Argonauts to go recuriting to find some more fighting women.

If it sounds like this story is a “simple go there and fight” type scenario, then you’re in for a surprise. Nothing comes easy for the Argonauts and the Phants aren’t as smart as they appear to be. They certainly lack some in the tactical planning department and assume too much about how the Argonauts will fight and what equipment they need. Surus constantly keeps information to herself which Rade really needs in planning their military missions. She only reveals some of these things after it’s way to late. Of course, that only makes their mission tougher and the books more interesting. Still, there might come a time when the Argonauts will have to re-assess whether or not it’s safe to continue using Surus as a client.

Ok, so on to the next book titled “Quantum Predation”, whatever that means. I’ve noticed that books 5 (“Robot Dust Bunnies”) & 6 (“City of Phants”) are already available.