You might recall from some previous posts that I’m a fan of Master of Orion (the game) and the books that seem to be inspired by this genre. While some more recent games (Galactic Civilization I, II & III and Stardrive I & II) might seem the rightful holders of the title of best 4X Space warfare games, anyone who’s played Master of Orion III (aka MOO III) will always have a special place in their heart for that game above all others. With massive fleet battles at the center point some books have also done a really good job of exploring this sort of a Universe and while the Honor Harrington series does this to some extent, the ones previously that I thought most outstanding in this area was the Shiva Option by David Weber & Steve White (reviewed here). However, I think they there is a new contender to this crown now in Warlords Invasion & if the rest of this series continues in the same vein as the first book, a possible successor!
This book tells the story of a humanity far in the future, one that comprises an empire spanning tens of thousands of lightyears and trillions of souls. While seemingly at the pinnacle of technology and science, they are humbled quickly and easily by an invading species with ships and weapons far in advance of humanities own. When small hunter-killers are able to defeat Dreadnoughts and weapons seemingly do no damage, the chances of survival seem slim. Added to that is, of course, the fact that the enemy not only has better weapons and ships – they have more of them than the defenders also!
If you are a fan of massive (really massive) battles, you’ll love this book. The climactic sequence has an all out battle where 5000 human ships fight about 2000 enemy ships. While humanity itself might seem to be stronger based on just these numbers, when you take into account the actual size of the ships and realize that based on tonnage, humanity has almost a 40:1 ratio on the enemy the outcome seemingly is for an obvious and easy victory. The technology of the aliens comes into play here however and by the end of the battle this seemingly unstoppable force is reduced to under 1000 ships leaving the enemy in control of the battlefield and seemingly in control of the sector also!
Positives and Negatives
Overall the characters are quite interesting and the motivations of the enemy seemingly more than they are initially taken to be. The pace itself is excellent and while there are some typos and sentences that don’t really make sense, they don’t really detract too much from the story. In fact – in all honesty this was one of those types of books that you just couldn’t put down & to be completely frank I literally devoured it in one sitting. I guess I know my type now! 🙂
I don’t really have any negatives to point to really. Humanity while only one book in, is already on the back foot and as long as Mr. Guo doesn’t take the easy way out of having humanity discover a new superweapon hidden in the annals of history or even on a dusty planet somewhere, but actually has them fighting and gradually coming into parity that would work for me. I’d like to say that this book was too short (as I definitely wanted more) but I think it worked quite well as a setup to future sequels and I know for sure that I’ll definitely be picking any subsequent books up quite eagerly.