This book was good although everything seemed just a little too relaxed! This book seems to have been written out of sequence but it really doesn’t fit into any real sequence of events with the other “The Empire’s Corps” books. Those books start off from the same place, Earth, but they follow a contingent of Marines who are sent to the far fringes of known space and what is still supposed to be part of the Earth Emperor’s realm. This book is a story of what’s happening on Earth as the other books go about their story.
I find it interesting that the author seems to believe that Marines are some how superhuman, especially with a few built in “enhancements”. None of these enhancements are fully described although they get talked about when there becomes a need to use an enhancement to get the current Marine out of trouble.
At the start of this book we read about a young or seemingly young Specialist Lawson taking part in an action of a Pathfinder team in hostile territory. Her team gets all shot up and she is trapped in a room with a pack of angry rioters breaking the doors down. Even with her “enhancements” she is severly injured but is some how rescued and revives in a secure hospital back on Earth.
While she wasn’t the leader of her Pathfinder team, she finds the loss of all five other members a reall blow to her mental stability. She doesn’t know what she will do or even if the Marine Corps will keep her in service. Then, while recurperating in the hospital, the Commandant of the Marine Corps comes to visit and tells her he has a special assignment lined up and needs her to recover soon!
Ok, so how many Specialist do you think the Commandant of the Marine Corps actually visits during his stint in that position? I don’t think very many. It seems like Specialist Lawson is the only Pathfinder left in the entire Marine Corps. And, Pathfinders are usually Army types coming from Aireborne units and not from the Marines. So, most of this is obviously made up and in that case, I guess the Commandant of the Marine Corps would personnally make an assignement for a single Marine, yeah, right!
Anyway, the special assignment that the Commandant has for Specialist Lawson is to simply be a very close body guard for the Emperor! A routine assignement for a Marine, I think not! It appears that the Emperor is actually the Prince in waiting since he’s only 16 and won’t become the Emperor until his 17th birthday. Unfortunately, he’s been waiting to be Emperor for the last 16 years with the real power being welded by the Grand Senate.
The Grand Senate wants the Prince dead! They don’t want an Emperor unless it’s one of them and if the Prince some how does die, then the Senator who has the most power will either become the new Emperor or will have the most influnce over whom they pick. So, the Prince has been given everything he desires for the last 16 years. He is so spoiled that no one knows if he has a brain or not because he’s usually stoned out of his mind or dead drunk! He does what he pleases as long has he stays in his Palace in Emperial City.
In comes Specialist Lawson to straighten things out. Officially she’s placed in charge of the Prince’s security. There were two security services responsible for just that, the Senate Security Service and the Civil Guard Security Service. Each had their own men and equipment and each did what they wanted with very little coordination.
It’s really strange that this Marine doesn’t seem to blink an eye when told she’s basically going to have to baby sit a 16 year old kid that could have her executed on a whim! She doesn’t appear to be concerned with the assignement and begins it by meeting the young Prince and telling him to get his lazy butt out of bed and go take a shower!
So she’s off on her new assignement. Unfortunately, while she is attempting to make this Prince into something that will resemble an Emperor, the Empire is falling to pieces. The Grand Senate has passed so many laws that restrict everything, that Earth is starting to crumble. The Earh has over 300 billion people on the planet and can’t begin to feed them all if something should happen to the Earth’s trade and shipping.
Of course something terrible does happen and that’s when the fun begins! The author paints a pretty dark future for Earth. We can’t seem to govern ourselves without politiicians thinking that just because they were elected to office, they are better than everyone else. This has been going on for centuries on Earth. The entire planet has been populated with cities built ontop of older cities while the inhabitants stilled lived there! We have an entire population living in the Undercity. The have never seen the light of day and are mostly ruled by gangs. They eat alge bars which are easy to produce and very cheap until the process to make them becomes contaminated and poison alge bars are set out to the population. With nothing else to eat, the Undercity starts to riot going after the Grand Senate.
In the meantime, Imperial City University students, who usually have everything given to them, start complaining that their living allowance isn’t enough. So they begin a bunch of planned protest until they are inflitrated by a thug sent to them by a Senior Grand Senator who wants to become Emperor.
The book gets pretty tiring after a while. It is exciting and does run at a pretty fast clip but most of it is predictiable and just happens like you figured it would. The Prince isn’t as dumb as most people thought but he’s also not much good for anything. Specialist Lawson does have a job protecting him from everybody. She does so in a pretty grand fashion but after all is said and done, her job didn’t result in anything.
The Empire begins to fall with Earth leading the way. Pretty distrubing if you think we have a grand future. It’s hard to picture something so vast that would have an impact on the entire Earth.
Still, read the series. In my opinion, the other books are more interesting but no matter what, if you’re a Marine, you can do anything!