OK considering I’ve only just finished writing my review for book one its somewhat startling when you find all of your negatives being addressed in the first 1/2 dozen chapters of book 2! I mentioned in my previous review that there wasn’t enough romance and humour and that was in abundance here in the interactions with Christos and the Admiral at the Dinner party. I also spoke about the fact that humanity was almost too good and there should be more elements of the fault in our human nature – the urge for power and privilege and that too was ably shown in Commander Bryer Anderson in the early chapters and others in much greater depth in the latter half of the book too! Good job sir, very good job – it’s always nice when an author listens to the feedback of his fans and I guess it only echo’d my own sentiments!
In Discovery of the Saiph (book 1 reviewed here) we learned that humanity is not alone in the universe. Not only are they not alone, they have “cousins” – other species that like humans have had their DNA spliced and manipulated to reflect that of the Saiph. Unfortunately the Saiph while seemingly benevolent have been wiped out by the “Others” – yet another species that has been DNA manipulated … also by the Saiph it seems!
While the confusion here is quite significant, one thing that humanity realizes is that the Others are world destroyers … regardless of where they came from and what might have happened in their past (which is somewhat explained in this book) they have only one purpose now and that is to ensure their own survival at the expense of any other group – human’s included!
Book 2 picks up right where Book 1 ended, so if you haven’t read the first one yet, please don’t continue reading this review as it has the potential of spoiling that one for you.
*** Spoilers below for book 1 ***
If you recall from the previous book, humanity had managed to beat back the assault on one of their allied planets by the narrowest of margins. This attack however would have been successful if the Others had utilized their full fleet strength but the enemy forces were discovered by the random arrival of a human ship causing them to launch their attack early and fail. The commander of the Other fleet however was not with his fleet at the time of the attack and he received guidance that he should retreat instead of pursuing the battle. On his way back to the Other homeworld he came across a Human merchant ship and was able to capture it before the captain could purge the computers of the navigation and technical documents contained. This is how book 2 begins and it quickly puts the Others on a technical parity with Humanity and its alliance of planets! Whoa boy … it’s going to be an interesting ride that’s for sure!
What I liked and didn’t like
Some of my positives from the previous book – the lack of massive space battles – are still here, but to a lesser degree as while you don’t have thousands of ships flying around firing billions of missiles there are definitely some larger fleet battles at play and its getting close to being unwieldy. The introduction of ground combat was well done – although I think both John Ringo & Doug Dandridge did it better in their Posleen Saga & Looking Glass books as well as Exodus: Empires at War respectively … however it was overall quite enjoyable and perhaps too short if anything.
The characters are definitely written better and there is more humanity not only to them, but also to the story as a whole as it introduces some of the worse elements of the human condition – namely greed – which were woefully lacking from the previous volume. The enemy too has been somewhat humanized and while this book finishes with an even greater mystery, it has answered some of the questions that were previously posed in the first volume. They are definitely not just a faceless foe anymore …
Overall an excellent addition to the series and one that I’d highly recommend if you’re a fan of Military SciFi. It’s well written and gets to the action quite quickly. While you don’t need to read the first book to understand what’s going on (it’s explained in the text) I would still recommend that you do as it will absolutely enhance your overall enjoyment.