4 Small Stars
Arcane World
The title of this book threw me off just a little.  There is a series by B. V. Larson called “The Undying Mercenaries” and every one of those books has the title “_______ World”.  So, when I first saw this title, I though, “Oh, good. Anther one of Larson’s books.”.  Then I saw the author of this book and I was almost just as happy.  While John Walker writes a more serious story, Larson’s is kind of ironic and humorous.  I like both very much.
We are back with the Leviathan, the Earth’s one and only wormhole-capable starship orbiting the Cathedral planet.  Captain Miller is planning a dangerous mission to find the secret empire planet where he believe some illicit activities are on-going.  This mission will require a stealth ship which is something they can obtain from General Atalis’ forces, but it will only be a large shuttle and not well protected.  He plans to have Leviathan floating in space some where distant from the planet; just far enough that it can come to their rescue immediately.  He does expect heavy defenses around this planet and that makes it even more necessary that they find out what the Empire is hiding.
So, a very dangerous intelligence gathering mission.  Get in, get out and not disturb the population or even let them know you’re around.  It appears that the civilization living on the planet is very backward in technology so there’s no telling how they’ll react of a shuttle in their sky so that has to be avoided at all cost. And now the story get stupid!
Earth has a long history of fielding Special Operating Forces about ships at sea including submarines.  The SOF are very capable and can do the exact intelligence mission that the Leviathan is now contemplating.  But, do they have a contingent of such soldiers aboard?  No, but they do have quite a group of Marines.  The force that will need to land on this planet will have to be somewhat small since their shuttle can only accommodate so many.  It’ll will need a good pilot which has come with the shuttle and that’s great.  The other members of this landing party include two Marines, Zadok, Micky Chilton, Avania and Captain Miller!  What a ridiculous combat team.  Captain Miller is a starship captain and knows nothing about ground operations including stealthy movement.  Avania is a Queen and the rightful heir to the thrown. If she gets killed, the whole purpose of this fight is for naught!  Micky Chilton it the Commander of the Leviathan’sair group and his starfighters might be needed to protect the ship or the shuttle, so why in the world is he going?  This is about the dumbest group of folks ever to go on a highly dangerous mission and it makes no sense!  Well, I guess it might to a science fiction writer.  This is art, right, nothing in these books have to be based on reality, right?
So off they go and all get killed; end of story, end of series!
Well, that’s realistically what should have happened.  But, they do muddle through all the while getting everyone of the team shot up some why or another.  It’s a very good thing that medical science has advanced so far it can cover for stupid mistakes.
Meanwhile, Prin Garinta, the Intel Agent working for Uncle Golnith, is hot on the tale of Avania.  She’s got a good idea of what ship Avania is on, but she still doesn’t know for what purpose and who is supporting the exiled Queen.  See is gradually becoming less sure of why she has to hunt down Avania, although she knows it’s her duty to the current King to get the job done.  It’s just a matter of time before she can latch on to Avania or at least the Leviathan.
And then there’s the little issue with Phoenix Rising, the Earth-bound terrorist group who needs to be found and terminated.  A computer hacker genius and a very capable FBI agent are on the trail of Phoenix.  The only thing is they need to stop him before he and his group commit their next act of terror.
There’s a lot going on in this book that makes for an interesting read.  I enjoyed it and am happy to say it will continue.  Nothing has been resolved in this book, so I think we’ll be seeing a few more books pretty soon.