Excellent book! This is the first of a new series (new to me) and it turned out really good. I like the whole story-line and I’m real interested in seeing how this whole series evolves. We started out with a retired Marine and his daughter going to bed just as they have every night. Next thing you know, Jack Rhodes is woken by his loudly barking dog. That’s not the usual way he gets woken and very unusual for his dog to even be barking. So, Jack gets up to investigate. He checks on his daughter who is sleeping in her room and then goes down starts to find the dog barking loudly and jumping on the patio door. He seems to want outside, but Jack isn’t sure about letting him go since he could have spotted a bear just roaming around in the woods behind the house.
Still, the dog is so insistent that Jack opens the door and his dog shoots out into the yard. Jack can’t see anything since it’s pitch dark out, but he does suddenly hear a yelp from his dog, then quiet. Before he can go any further, a large object comes floating out of the dark carrying what appears to be his dead dog! About that time, his daughter, Jessica, hollers from the patio door wanting to know what’s going on!a
Jack tries to tell his daughter to go back inside and shut the door, but the floating object races directly for his daughter and he can’t stop it. It grabs her in one tentacle-like arm and when he gets close enough to start banging on it with his empty shotgun, it also grabs him. He had shot at it twice to no avail; the thing appeared to have some kind of shielding. So, any way, he finds himself and his daughter being hoisted in the air and then they’re flying way, way up until they see what seems to be some kind of flying craft. They rapidly approach it and then enter into the craft and are unceremoniously dump on the hard metal surface of inside what now is got to be a UFO.
So, Jack realizes that he and his daughter have just went through an alien abduction. Yes, that has to be it. He’s never heard of anything remotely like this other than in those weird science fiction stories popping up on the news every so often. There’s nothing else in this UFO, but it is huge inside. Theres the floor and quite aways away are the walls. This thing appears to be round with him and his daughter sitting on a round floor. He starts yelling for someone or some thing to come and tell them what’s going on. He gets an answer.
It turns out that Jack and Jessica have, in fact, been abducted by an AI (Artificial Intelligence). It runs the ship and there’s nothing else aboard, no crew or anything. It does talk to Jack briefly, but the sound seems to be coming from the walls all around. Jack demands to be taken back home, but the alien AI tells him that’s not possible. They are now several light-years away from Earth with no intention of going back. Jack says he and his daughter can’t just exist with no food or water so the alien AI forms a table and chairs for them and then provides plates full of some kind of gunk telling them to eat this to survive. It’s not very pleasant, and Jack has to convince Jessica to eat some (she’s about 11) which she eventually does.
So, what have they gotten themselves into? Jack eventually gets told to go to the center of the floor. He does so and then finds himself in a ring of lights. Off in the distance he seems something on two feet approaching his circle. The AI says that this is a combat to the death. Jack is unarmed except for a pocket knife he always carries, but this first creature is huge and has some deadly sharp claws. Jack at first refuses to fight, but the AI threatens him with his daughter’s life so Jack has no way out. He manages to fight and win this first bought only to have to face two more with increasing difficulty. Jack is a trained retired Marine, but with his pocket knife and his apparent faster reaction times, he’s able to defeat each of these aliens.
Later, after this ordeal, Jack feels the ship he’s on docks with another ship. He sees another creature coming through a door along with the AI that had abducted him and his daughter. They seem to be talking about a price. Jack realizes that he and his daughter are being sold by this AI, but he’s more surprised by the fact that the other alien is HUMAN! Now, this is were their strange adventure starts!
What happened to Jack and Jessica isn’t that uncommon over the history of Earth. It seems that alien AI’s have come to Earth quite often to kidnap humans to sell them as slaves or use them as slaves of their own. Earth supposedly knows nothing of this nor do they know about the vast Imperium Empire. This is where billions of aliens exist, fight, and trade all without the Earth knowing anything about any of it. Earth is too primitive, too far behind in technology, to be part of the Imperium. Still, they are not supposed to be disturbed by any of the Imperium aliens except they are by those that are criminals. Jack finds that he and Jessica have been sold to a human mercenary company, called the Black Company. How they are now going to live their lives turns out to be very interesting. One thing they definitely know is, they are never, ever returning to Earth!
This is a pretty good story-line. I like that humans are not the weaklings that most science fiction stories portray us. While we’re not the strongest, we do know how to fight and there is a need for mercenaries in the Imperium. What happens to Jack and Jessica is going to be very interesting and even impossible according to our current way of thinking. Will they be able to adapt to their new living conditions? Maybe, but it won’t be as you would guess.
Book 2, “Earth Gambit” is available on Amazon and I’m definitely going to add it to my reading list.