Truly one of the classics of the genre, the Lensmen series redefined SciFi and helped to launch Space Opera as we know it now. While initially released as in three books, Smith later created three prequels (similar to Lucas much later) which further explained the eons long conflict between the Arisia and the Eddore.
The first of the prequels – Triplanetary – consists of two major parts, the first being the arrival of the Eddore into our universe, the subsequent fall of Atlantis, Rome and “present day” Civilization and the second detailing the rise of humanity once again under the covert help of the Arisian’s.
Throughout both sections of the book however we are constantly confronted with the Kinnison’s & their partners. These individuals are key to the Arisian’s and their breeding of a superior race – in fact, one that will surpass them in mental prowess – in their conflict with the Eddorian’s.
I first read this book almost 20 years ago (perhaps even longer) and while it is sometimes a bit archaic (the role of the woman for example is almost always as a damsel in distress!) it is still a really good, solid and enjoyable read and you can definitely see why it is deserving of a place on your mantle.
In the second half of the book – what you could in fact classify as the main story (after all Atlantis, Rome and present day Civilization have all fallen!) Humanity has explored the solar system and has formed the Triplanetary league. This consists of the planets Earth, Mars and Venus and they have just recently survived a successful conflict against Jupiter which is only alluded to briefly.
(note: I’m not sure if this where the manly man/hero is first introduced to SciFi or if it was introduced in another series even earlier but regardless, this book is littered with them!)
Conway Costigan (one of our main protagonists) is a spy for the Triplanetary Patrol and he is captured along with his love interest (Clio Marsden) and Captain Bradley by Gray Roger – a pirate plaguing interplanetary commerce. What Conway doesn’t know however is that Gray Roger is actually Gharlane of Eddore who is masquerading as a human so that he can destroy this version of civilization like he did each of the preceding iterations (Atlantean, Roman and our current Civilization) on Tellus (Earth).
While Conway is able to successfully escape from Roger and is in fact able to call upon the Triplanetary Patrol to help attack and defeat Roger, he is once again captured – this time by the Nevians.
The Nevians are the dominant, amphibious race of the planet Nevia, located many light years distant from the Sun. Their planet is desperately short of iron, so they set out with a spaceship to try to obtain more and come across the fleet of the Triplanetary Patrol in the midst of its battle with Roger and his pirate forces. Utilizing their superior technology they strip the Patrol ships and Rogers forces of all of their iron (not only from the ships but also from the crew on those ships) quickly defeating both forces. Along the way they capture Costigan and decide to take him and his companions back to their home planet for further study and analysis.
Once at Nevia, Costigan again escapes – this time from the Nevian supership in the midst of another epic battle (underwater against fish from the deeps of the planet)! While he is again captured, Costigan is able to provide valuable information to his colleagues in the Triplanetary Patrol so that they are able to better defend themselves and in fact create a ship (the Boise) that is able to not only stand up to the Nevian’s but in fact defeat it in battle.