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“Cold Steel”


Cold Steel

This is the second book of the Forlorn Hope series, but it has nothing to do with the first book so I don’t even know why it’s called a series? It starts out in my favorite way with a young man just returning from prep school and intending on joining the Imperial Army. He believes he’ll make a good officer and serve his five year terms of service and then come back home. But he’s not just your average guy going into the Army. No, this is Lord Andranik (Ando)) Haduni of the House of Haduni, the only son of Duke Haduni and second in succession to the throne. His older sister, Anahit Haduni is all set to inherit the throne and she has been groomed for that job for quite awhile now. Their Father, the Duke of Sassoun Station, was not healthy and none expected him to last much longer. But the reason Andranik was coming home wasn’t because of his Father’s impending demise, no he was coming home since he finished his prestigious prep school and was going to sit of the military entrance examination. This was thought to just be mere formality for him.

HIs home obits Mars and happens to be on the Space Station Sassoun. His Father commands Sassoun Station by royal decree and represents the His Majesty’s government by enforcing all the laws and customs of the kingdom. Still, the House of Haduni has its distractors primarily from the House of Boguni. Where the author got these names from, I do not know, but they certainly distract from reading the story. The House of Boguni is involved in transportation and storage of the goods that flow between Mars and Sassoun Station. They have to work with the House of Haduni for their license to do business but have always felt that it would be much better if they controlled the entire station. The Duke sets the fees for these license to operate which, of course, the House of Boguni believe are too high so they in-turn, charge anyone and everyone sky-high freight and storage charges for the business services they provide.

In this environment, power is vested in families, therefore, the larger you make your family, the more powerful you can become. A lot of families arrange marriages between their young people expecting them to go along with whatever planned spouse is provided to them. Except Anahit of House Haduni has no intentions of marrying what she calls egotistical fops who have been proposed as her suitors. She has already rejected on such fop from the House Boguni, Aren Boguni and, of course, he’s not happy about it.

Still, Ando is there to take his military entrance exams. It’s a combination of a physical, plus some physical challenges, the written examination, followed up with an interview by an Army officer to ensure you were fit to join his Imperial Army. Ando passes everything, believing he’s doing quite well, that is until he goes for his interview. It just so happens and not by chance that the interviewing officer is none other than Major Aren Boguni. He, through this families connections and money, had arranged to be assigned this duty just because he knew the brother of the woman who had rejected his marriage proposal was going to be here at this time and place.

It did not go well for Ando, nor did it go exactly as Major Boguni expected. He managed to insult Ando about as much as he could, but Ando kept his temper, but only barely. Then the Major started in on insulting his sister and of course, Ando couldn’t let that pass. Before either one knew it, Major Aren Boguni was lying on the floor with a split lip and a very sore jaw. That’s when he told Ando that he was never going to be allowed in the Imperial Army after striking an officer of that Army! So, Ando’s military career vanished just like that. Since the interview session was a closed process, only the words of those involved were considered and since the Major clearly looked like he had been hit, there wasn’t much Ando could do about the situation, especially since Ando had kicked the Major on his way out of the interview room. He probably broke a few ribs doing that!

So here’s where the story gets going. Founder’s Day is a big event in which his Father, the Duke has to participate with a big ball and gala. During the dinner, Ando drinks wine served to him, his sister and his Father. His sister pointedly decides she needs to stay sober even if she is the only one, so she is drinking only water, but his Father is so pumped up on medication, a little wine won’t cause him much more harm. Except it does. Both the Duke of Sassoun and his son, Andranik, are poisoned! Ando finally wakes up in a hospital finding out that his consumption wasn’t as great necessary to kill him although it certainly had killed the Duke!

Now Anahit is the Duchess of Sassoun. She knows that the House Boguni had to be responsible for this assassination so she issue a warrant for the arrest of Aren Boguni and any other Boguni found in their palace. Ando has been make Captain of the Haduni palace Guard by his sister so he’s going to execute the warrant. What actually happens is that Ando winds up killing six members of the House Boguni and winds up in jail! He might be there for the rest of his life.

Yet his sister does something that gets him a chance to get out of prison. It involves a marriage and the Frontier Corps. You’ll need to read the book to find out everything else that happens. I’ve just recounted the first few chapters!

While I don’t see anything in this book that had to do with book 1, except the mention of the Frontier Corps, this one doesn’t exactly end where you’d expect. So maybe this story-line will continue in book 3, “Coffin Troopers” now available on Amazon.

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