John Walker’s books are getting complicated. Up until lately, he would write about a starship going on one and only one mission to accomplish a goal. Now he’s got about three story lines in this book and things can get somewhat confusing. Still, the writing is nice and sharp and you can figure out what’s going on if you pay attention.
The story starts out with Milna Lithe, a spy planted by the Lord Marshall to find out who are the rebels and the best way to destroy them. Milna is on a mission and nothing is going to stop her. She is a devout Kahl and sees anyone who isn’t following Lord Marshall’s edicts to the letter as a sworn enemy. Right now, though, she has an opportunity to join up with the rebels and get on the inside of their operation. That’s exactly what she wants to do. She’ll take names and locations of the rebels and their hideouts and report back to Headquarters so this scum can be wiped out of existence. Her first contact with the rebels is a guy name Joe. He’s not what she expected. Her mission just got a lot harder.
Next with swing over to the Triton, revamped starship from Earth having gained a lot of new Prytin technology. They are meeting up with the Brekka, a Prytin starship, commanded by Captain Griel Pas Dain. Captain Titus Barnes commands the Triton and both ships have already worked well together in a previous fight with the Kahl. On that mission, they rescued a Paragon Essa Helsh, a Rhulin, who is an archeologist and an expert on ancient Kahl civilization. Together with archeologist Lisa Vanden and Kyle Burgess, of Earth, they are attempting to open the “Kahl Crystal”, an ancient data storage device which should tell them where to find the next interesting archeological site.
So, after finding out where the Triton needs to head, the two Captains decide that need to split up for this mission. Captain Pas Main will take the Brekka on a somewhat mysterious mission that doesn’t appear to be quite sanctioned by his headquarters. In order to do so, he needs to convince/order Niva, his intelligence officer, to stay with the Triton and help them on their mission. He knows, as does everyone else, that part of Niva’s mission is to report everything the Brekka and Captain Pas Dain does back to Higher HQ. But, this is definitely one mission he doesn’t want reported. It should be a “milk run”, but sometime those don’t exactly work out. He should have known that nothing was going to be easy for this ship, the Brekka.
As for the Triton, they are heading for another Kahl planet deep in that civilizations sphere. It is a dangerous mission, but this particular planet hasn’t been visited by any Kahl for a very long time. It appears to be completely abandon a long, long time ago. Captain Barnes intends to send down teams of archeologist with protection to enter another temple of the Kahl to see if they can find more information as to why the Kahl civilization is so violent and set on destroying or conquering everything in the universe. Captain Barnes doesn’t expect much in the way of danger, unless of course a Kahl starship happens to be in the area.
Well, both Captains are in for some shocking action. The Brekka sees a Kahl carrier dropping out of warp ready for battle not long after they get to their secret location. This is going to be one very tough battle. The Brekka should be up to the challenge, but you never know.
It just so happens that General Renz, Lord Marshall’s son, and all around spoiled elitist, has his ship going to the same place as the Triton. They are going to arrive somewhat later, but things aren’t working out so well on the surface of the planet and the Triton can’t get their ground teams back aboard so they can make a hasty departure. It looks like the Triton will have to deal with General Renz’s battleship and his two destroyers. Three against one might not seem fair, but it is what it is!
Meanwhile we’er also following a story line of Maurda Flink, a former Rhulin starship captain and now prisoner of the Kahl. He finds himself in some dire circumstances, the first of which is surviving about thirty lashes with a whip. He’s days as a prisoner are just starting and they are probably going to get worse.
So, as you will read, there’s a lot going on in this book. It doesn’t read like a particularly long book, but it covers a lot of ground. Like I said before, you have to really pay attention to what’s happening because not every chapter is jut devoted to one story line or the other. Still, the book is a smooth read and you kind of sail through it because the writing is just that good. Now that I know all the characters, and there are a lot, I’m going to continue on with this series. No reason not to.