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Stewart is one of my favorite space opera authors, but I don't think I'm going any further with this series. It lacks something from his others, the protagonist is just not compelling, the pk universe is not well fleshed out... I can see the appeal in the concept, which is that Earth fights a war against a vast alien empire, wins because of inherent weaknesses that only Earth was (somehow) able to exploit, and now has to provide leadership in the power vaccum that was created. The second book is all about doing it for one group of planets. It should be compelling, but it isn't. Not terrible, but not something I would ever read again like his other books.
Vast number of alien races, vast group of connections and whatnot, all which means that any time any of the above is needed the author can just invent a new one. Earth's power is based on a gimmick shield that a galaxy-spanning empire couldn't crack, but some rebel warlord wannabe and maybe some space gypsies crack in two tries? Come on!
Don't especially care if the protagonists die. Their glory days are well behind them, room for personal growth is limited, and if there is anything that COULD seem like personal growth that pops up, don't worry because a reference to their glory days will explain that away. This could have been good, but it isn't.
As an additional note, when I bought this the review selection was filled with glowing 5-star reviews from people given free books to read and review. Given how lacking I found this book (despite being a fan of this author), I find the situation sketchy.
The war is over and the Kenmiri Empire has fallen to the United Planets Alliance and their Space Force. With the end of slavery for all races , it is also the end of all of the infrastructure, supplies, and governance the Empire had provided. Warlords are enslaving entire worlds with lustful eyes on any weaker planets. Col. Henry Wong and the UPSF battle cruiser Raven have been assigned to the new Peacekeeper Initiative: a bold plan by the UPA to stop the warlords and provide assistance to the thousands of worlds left post-Empire. Under funded, micromanaged, and with only a fraction of the ships and personnel needed, the Initiative tackles the daunting task of helping trillions of beings. Captain Wong finds skeptical governments, civil wars, mass starvation, and worlds so polluted by the Kenmiri that food cannot grow for the inhabitants. I enjoyed this book. All of the issues raised were real, not something only 200 centuries in the future. I also enjoyed Captain Wong's attitude of “there must be another way” when decisions seemed bad or awful. The overall plot was excellent, the writing was clear and decisive, there was character growth shown in all of the major characters, and the action scenes were mesmerizing. I recommend this book (which I purchased).
I've enjoyed some of Glynn Stewart's writing in the past (mostly the Duchy of Terra series) but sometimes things just don't seem to line up for me. While this series has some promising aspects to it, some interesting ideas, at other times I stumble on the apparent disconnects. Some examples of what I struggle with: (some spoilers within)
Military: - The main character has the rank of Lt. Col but is referred to as Captain. This is stressed over and over again. Somewhat quirky to adopt non-naval ranks in a space navy. I could get past this, but it just keeps coming up over and over again.
- Ship classes seem wonky. The main ship is a "battlecruiser" and has some primary and secondary armaments, but also boasts 8 starfighters. There are actual carriers which host many more. OK....but then, when it becomes necessary to transport a large number of troops, it's described that it also hosts 10 shuttles and another couple assault shuttles. So it has more non-combat parasites than combat versions?
- The BC is designed to take on at least one, if not two dreadnaughts. OK, great. But then it has trouble with one, maybe two gunships/escorts?
- Different roles on the bridge seem to kinda clueless about their specific duties in certain situations. The named characters in those roles are also always on the bridge when action goes down and never appear to have off-shifts.
- Weapons performance seems to vary wildly. Sometimes all it takes is one weapon/superweapon to overcome the defenses, sometimes scores. Either way works, just keep the consistency.
Things can be too easy or too hard: - Need many large freighters to be hijacked out of orbit under the noses of defenders in both ships and ground to orbit defenses? Just send in the troops and it happens, no muss, no fuss. All ships are fully fueled, fully loaded and ready to go.
- Need an army to be gathered for an invasion? Sure, can do! How long will it take to convert the freighters from cargo carrying to troop carrying and load them all up with 50k troops? About 36 hours.
I could go on, but you probably get the point. I want to like this series, but debate going any further into it when things like this just seem like lazy writing. You set the parameters, just make them believable and stick with them.
Once an ally, the Kozun Empire emerges, conquering star systems by force or threat of starvation. The Kenmiri developed star system clusters, one system supplied the food to neighboring manufacturing systems who could not feed themselves - by design. The Kozun targeted the agri systems, withholding food from the manufacturing systems until near starvation forced them to become slave labor for the Kozun Empire. One of the situations the Peacekeeper Initiative was created to prevent.
Colonel Henry Wong, Ambassador Todorovich and the Raven are called to help a nearby system, only to find the system cluster near starvation and ready to accept the Kozun demands, trading their former Kenmiri masters for Kozun masters. Henry and the Raven need to forge a new alliance, gather an army and fleet, liberate an occupied planet, restart food supplies to the manufacturing systems in this cluster and somehow not start a war with the new Kozun Empire. The Kozun learned well from their former Vesheron allies, learning their strengths and weaknesses. The Kozun also learned well from the Kenmiri.
A very entertaining story with engaging characters and plenty of intriguing situations that keep the story fresh. Highly recommended!
I received an ARC for my review and then purchased my own copy.
The Kenmiri Empire was built up with many clusters of enslaved worlds where 3 to 4 heavily industrialized worlds all were made dependent for food upon a single local agricultural world. As Captain Henry Fong and Ambassador Sylvia Todorovich travel back to Ra Sector about Raven as part of the new Peacekeeper Initiative of the UPS they immediately encounter a cluster of such worlds under attack by their fellow combatants the Kozun. The Kozun have taken control of the agricultural world and it's transport fleet in a effort to control the nearby industrialized worlds. Can the peacekeepers forge a lasting alliance among the disparate worlds of the cluster strong enough to throw back the military might and zeal of the occupying Kozun force?
Of course the answer is yes, but the twists and turns are well worth the time spent readying the excellent second novel. Further character development and the never say die attitude of the UPS peacekeepers only serves to set the stage for the upcoming third novel.
I started to read The Peacekeeper Initiative right after supper, it was so good, with great detail & development of the characters and story line that the next thing I noticed that I had read the last page and it was almost 2 AM....... I hate to put down a good story. 8-) I also probably read too much...
This is a good stand alone book, but reading the first book of the series will provide the reader a broader depth and background regarding the story in this second book of the series. I do recommend reading this book you will not be disappointed.
To be honest with everyone, I am an ARC reader, and all opinions are my own!