I reviewed the very first book in this series (“Duel in the Dark”) way back on the 1st of March 2017! Amazing! I knew then, that this was going to be an excellent series. I found all the subsequent books all very exciting and very interesting. There didn’t seem to be an end to the struggles of the Confederation and specifically Tyler Barron. We were in so many battles, that I really kind of got tired of the constant fighting. Yet, I did realize that some of this fighting and the major battles had long periods of semi-peace, a time where both sides were reorganizing and repairing all the damages done during the last battle. Still, we seemed to always be fighting and that wore me out!
Now we come to the point where this final enemy, the Highborn might just put an end to all the fighting and the Confederation. They are extremely powerful and are relentlessly pursuing Admiral Tyler Barron’s forces all the way back to Confederation territory. Tyler has no where else to go. And yet, his people continue to fight. They have surprised the Highborn with their tenacity and resourcefulness. The Highborn are an arrogant race of humans, made by humans only better. They are highly intelligent and have this drive to conquer the entire galaxy and rule everything. They enslave normal humans with “the Collar” which makes those humans obedient without choice even though some of their conscious thoughts know that what they are doing is terribly wrong. That was an interesting twist to the story. It was also a whole story in itself when Jake Stockton was captured and subjected to the Collar. But now, he’s free and back again with his former Confed humans and he strongly desires to become what he once was, a pilot and commander, but can he be trusted? That’s one question to be answered.
So, is this the final battle? It certainly sounds like it. The Confederation forces have only been giving ground since the Hegemony was defeated. All of the Hegemony worlds now fall under the Highborn’s rule and they know that sooner or later all the Hegemony peoples will soon be subject to the Collar. But, the Hegemony military under Chronos still fights beside Admiral Barron. Also, members of the Alliance that Tyler found so many long years ago still fight along side the Confederation. Admiral Vian Tulus knows that if the Confederation falls, so will the Alliance, eventually. There’s no stopping that future if they don’t do it now. You’ll read about a lot more of the same characters you have read about in past books, those at least that are still alive. Surprisingly, there are a number of Barron’s senior military still with him. He and Andi were married and now have a child, Cassie, whom neither have seen for a couple of years leaving her back on the Confederation capitol of Megara. Tyler doubts he’ll ever see his only daughter again. He wants Andi to leave immediately to go get their daughter and then the two of them should flee to the deepest part of space maybe finding a small planet the Highborn won’t come looking for, but will Andi really do that? Tyler doesn’t know.
As you can read, there are a lot of questions this book has to answer. Fortunately for us readers, it does a superb job doing just that. This story ends very well, just maybe not as you or I expected. Still, it does end 18 books worth of excellent military science fiction writing. Yet, I can’t provide a true review unless I comment about one irritating thing in this book as well as some of the more recent books in this series. They are terribly, terribly repetitive! The author continuously goes over the same thing time after time. He writes the same statements and paragraphs in almost every chapter only just slightly changing the order of the words. I believe he has stated that this was the longest of all 18 books and that might be true, although it didn’t seem that way. But, if he had left out all the repeated scenes, the same thoughts by each character over and over, this book would have been about one-quarter it’s size. We know that Admiral Barron agonizes over all death he has been responsible for, that he is terrified he is not leading his people like they should be, that he loves Andi, his wife and now his child, Cassie, more than life itself. We know that Admiral Atara is a great Admiral in her own right and that she deeply respects Tyler Barron; we know her and Tyler were close, but only as brother and sister, we know that she is happy for Tyler and Andi in their marriage. Then comes all the thoughts of Jake Stockton. We’re almost subjected to everything he did while under the control of the Collar and now we’re subjected to his constant need to remind himself that he’s cured and not controlled by the Highborn; we know he regrets everything he did while under Highborn control and will never be able to live down the deaths of his fellow Confederation spacers while he was fighting for the Highborn. We know all these things and certainly don’t have to read about them time after time through this entire book!
What it boils down to, in my opinion, is three-fourths of this book is redundant and I am disappointed with that. It’s like a one-hour show crammed with commercials to stretch it to a three-hour movie! Just be prepared for that!
Still, you also should be prepared for a good story that comes to a great conclusion. I’m really surprised that so many of the main characters survived all this fighting. We don’t read much about Gary Holsten, but he’s in this book as is Admiral Clint Winters, even on of the very bad guys, Gaston Villieneuve, gets a final, a very final and fitting scene in this book All these characters were amazingly developed and had significant parts to play in this entire series. I’ll miss all the characters in these books.
Still, I can’t wait for more books by Jay Allan. He’s my kind of writer and his books will always be on my list of military science fiction books to read. Thank you, Jay Allan, for a wonderful series!