This is one of the better books I’ve read in a while. This is a military sci-fi book which I have been straying away from lately. It’s good to get back to what I really enjoy. Captain Caleb Card of the Centurion Space Force Marines is on a scouting mission with his crew of two, Abraham (Ham) Cortez, pilot and Corporal Jii Kwon, gunner/navigator. This last character, Kwon, doesn’t last long and if Caleb doesn’t get some things done, neither will Ham.
What they are scouting for is a lost colony ship called the “Pathfinder”. It was sent out almost 200 years ago and never heard from again. Now that humanity has expanded far beyond where it was 200 years ago, the powers that be wanted to know what happened to the Pathfinder. One of the reasons the Pathfinder had been sent out was because of the attack by the Relyeh, an alien race that can take over the minds and bodies of certain humans. These are vicious aliens that seem to be determined to wipe-out humanity.
Still, humanity has been able to defend itself and has adapted to their enemy. In fact, Captain Card has a form of the Relyeh attached to his body with connections to his brain. This arrangement was explained in the book although it seems that it wasn’t a universal adaptation by humans and Relyeh. Caleb called his attached Relyeh Ishek and they worked together to keep each other alive. Ishek was able to enhance some of Caleb’s human responses to make him faster, stronger and heal quicker than any normal human. Apparently, the Relyeh usually attached to a host and took it over but only if the mind of the host was weak. Caleb’s mind was far from weak and Ishek had realized that from the start. Therefore, if he wanted to continue to live, he had to assist Caleb when it was needed most. To some, this kind of arrangement would be totally unacceptable. And that was soon to be the case.
The scout ship, Spirit, had gone to the Trappist-1 system hoping to find a signal from the Pathfinder. Such as signal was located an it appeared be coming from the vicinity of Trappist-G. So the Spirit headed towards that planet only to find they had apparently fallen into a trap. Relyeh starfighters were waiting for them. While the small scout ship could account for itself it wouldn’t last long against a fleet of Relyeh fighters. Still, they managed to destroy and evade this first attack only to find out the signal they had was gone.
So getting out of one trap and falling into another wasn’t part of Captain Card’s plan. He had his crewman, Kwon, rebuild an antenna receiver to attempt boosting its receiving capability. That proved successful when they got a faint, very faint signal coming from Trappist-E. So, that’s where they headed.
As they approached, they found the signal getting stronger, but it was still a distress signal and didn’t seem to be one that would be coming from the Pathfinder itself. If the colony ship had landed on the planet and there were survivors, they would expect to see a pretty big settlement by now. That wasn’t the case, so they got as close to the signal site as they could when Captain Card and Kwon dropped for the Spirit onto the planet.
This is where it gets very interesting. They do locate the signal, but it’s coming from a lander that appears to have crashed. It’s definitely not the Pathfinder. They manage to get on-board only to find its sole occupant long dead! She was an engineer from the Pathfinder that had found out something the leadership and military of the colony didn’t want her to know. She had fled the Pathfinder to save her own life only to die of starvation on Trappist-E. They found all this out via a tablet she had left behind. She also wrote down that the Pathfinder had found a wormhole that appeared to be navigable, but the scientist aboard the Pathfinder had used the wrong math in figuring out how to transition through the wormhole. She believed that if the Pathfinder had tried to go through the wormhole it would have been destroyed.
All this was good information but it still didn’t tell Captain Card where the Pathfinder went. Surely they wouldn’t have gone through a dangerous wormhole. But, he now had other problems to worry about. The Relyeh were present on Trappist-E and they were controlling the indigent life there which started attacking the crashed lander. Card and Kwon had to get out and get back to the Spirit and fast. They had to fight their way through a mass of deadly alien creatures with Kwon getting seriously injured. While Captain Card tried to carry his injured crewman up a cliff face to the Spirit, Kwon died. Card wouldn’t make the climb if he had to carry this now dead weight so he abandoned Kwon and managed to just get aboard the Spirit.
Once again the Spirit got back into space only to find them in another Relyeh ambush. This time they really had no way out. There was just too much for one small scout ship to defeat. They finally realized that their only recourse was to set course for the wormhole and use the correct (they hoped) navigation information given to them on the tablet of the dead Pathfinder engineer.
Now is where the rest of this story really starts and where the rest of the series will probably take place. It’s a very interesting story line especially the interaction between Card and his Relyeh. They sometimes have different opinions of what to do, but both want to stay alive so they have to compromise and it usually works out. Their only real problem is that what they find through the wormhole. Captain Card is considers a demon and must be killed.
I really can’t wait for the second book, “[Galaxy Unstable](https://amzn.to/45kMkV6)” now available on Amazon.