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Not many science fiction books, military or otherwise, cause me to cringe at the terrible things evil villains can do to the innocent. But, this book had me cringing a lot! Commander Rylan Holt is a spy or more cleanly, an intelligence operative for Lucian Fleet Intelligence. He’s after a contact that seems to have information about weapons smuggling in one of the cartels on Lakshmi Colony. Now this is an entire universe that has nothing to do with our Solar System. The various factions identified in this book are kind of hard to understand, but lets just say they all seem to be humans doing what humans do. And that means illegal stuff happens all the time like weapons and drug smuggling along with human trafficking. Rylan Holt has been doing his kind of work successfully for over 12 years and it’s about time he stopped. Just one more job and he can go home to his wife and kids and stay.

Only he gets captured. Now you unfortunately meet Lilith. She is the pinnacle of evil. Lilith’s Cartel has been doing all sorts of illegal activities and all are directed towards allowing her to take over this entire sector of space. She doesn’t have a large army or space navy, but some how she has gotten the favor of the Wardens. They have given her some very lethal weapons to us against mostly the Lucians and anyone else that stands in her way. Commander Rylan Holt needs to stop her.

OK, so who are the Wardens? Well, this part of space is under control of something called the Ascendants. I don’t exactly know who or what these things are, but they could have been humans that have evolved to almost god like entities and they control this part of space and everything in it. The Wardens are their enforcers of the Ascendants rules although not all those rules are known by the humans. Also these rules can change without notice or reason at any time. Up time now, the Ascendants have just kept humanity from annihilating themselves by limiting the lethality of war between factions.

Only the game has changed, at least the game being played by two Ascendants, one of which is certifiably insane! They are actually playing some kind of game with the humans as players. One, called Cef, has granted Lilith with unusually powerful weapons and control of numerous enforcers (mechs) that she is willing to use against the Lucians. Commander Rylan Holt knows about her plans and has sent that information to his HQ just before he got caught. Now he’s about to undergo some painful torture because Lilith wants to know how much the Lucians know about her plans. The thing is, it doesn’t matter what they know because they have no way to stop her. With the weapons given to her by the Ascendants she can and will be Empress of this region of space or every one will be dead!

What makes this book so vile is how Lilith can, at the touch of a pad, wipe out billions of humans who life in orbital colonies. They have no idea of what’s going to happen to them and can’t stop it if they knew. The first orbital station/colony Lilith destroys is Zeus station, where Commander Rylan Holt’s family resides. How she found out that information was the unfortunate mistake of Rylan’s eldest daughter. She should have known better. It will cost someone in her family their life.

So, how do you fight back against some kind of alien presence that you have no idea how to fight against. How do you even keep track of the rules when they can change on a whim? There’s going to be a lot of people dying in this book but you will read about two Lucian soldiers, both Lieutenants in the Lucian space Navy, who find each other and hope to make it through this ordeal.

While this book does have an ending, there’s still more to come. The game isn’t over. Book 2, “Brimstone”, is available on Amazon right now. I’ll add it to my reading list, I think!

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