Even after reading this second book, I still think this is a strange series, but it is also very good. Jack Rhodes is the main character and he was an Earth Marine, retired. He and his daughter were abducted by aliens or actually by a rogue AI. This kind of abduction had been going on for a long, long time on Earth, but as usual, no one paid much attention since none of these abductees ever returned to Earth. In Jack’s case, he along with his daughter, Jessica age 11, were eventually sold/bought/rescued by an mercenary company called the Black Company.
In the first book, you read all about Jack Rhodes’ exploits in his new situation. Having died for 20 years and being revived by his now 31 year old daughter who was an Imperium doctor, was kind of just the beginning for strange things for Jack. Jack continued to train and develop as a Black Company mercenary. He also died many more times, but with the medical advances of the galaxy, he was revived each time. Then he was made aware that Earth was being secretly invaded by the Raeth Collective. This group was the prime competitor of the Imperium. While both the Raeth Collective and the Imperium wanted Earth in their sphere of influence, neither were ready to reveal the greater galactic community to Earth because they didn’t feel Earth humans were ready. But the Imperium was going to just stand by and allow the Raeth Collective to take over Earth, so they sent the Black Company to tell the Earth leadership what was happening. Jack Rhodes became the point man for this effort.
The Black Company was successful in stopping the Raeth Collective efforts on Earth. They also managed to get Earth to hire them as kind of a protectorate for Earth while Earth built up it’s own space capabilities. The Imperium even allowed the Earth to start learning about some of the advances in medicine available to all Imperium citizens even though they were not ready to grant Earth full membership in the Imperium. Once Earth became able to defend itself and provide assets to the Imperium military, then they would be granted full membership, but that was a long way off.
Earth found out that even though the Imperium was around, they were not necessarily going to protect Earth against all aggression. That’s where the interest from the warlords of the greater galaxy came in to play. Several began to contemplate conquering Earth just for the wealth of it’s mineral assets. The Black Company was going to be the deterrent to such attacks except they couldn’t defend Earth by themselves. So, the Imperium secretly told Jack Rhodes to contact the Schrik, another mercenary company, whose leader, Bothar, Jack had defeated in a combat duel. Because of the personal defeat, Bothar considered Jack a brother and was willing to help the Black Company defend Earth as long as the Schrik were getting paid by the Imperium.
So, this book is going to tell you about several battles that the Black Company and the Schrik have with first an alien warlord name Klichton and then others. The first operation is an assassination while the second involves taking one of his mining planets for Earth. Earth is attempting to establish a reputation for itself so other know it is not something to be picked on just because humans might appear weak. In the story, you’ll read about several other characters than Jack and get to read about some of their backgrounds. Abducted humans who live in the greater galaxy like the members of the Black Company have the benefit of extended life-times. One Black Company soldier was abducted during World War I and another was a Roman Centurion who isn’t quite human any more. So, the stories contains some very interesting character development which fills in a lot of the time when there isn’t any fighting.
I don’t know where the story will go, but I do know that book 3, “Brutal Business” is available for pre-order on Amazon and should be available for reading on/about 21 April 2023. I’ll be looking to add it to my reading list.