Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Fiction
The consensus among the captains and admirals of the United Earth Space Force (UESF) is that their weaponry is fine, money need not be spent on advanced systems. Admiral Jean Villeneuve, the Chief of Operations, disagrees. It’s 2185 and piracy is rising at an alarming pace, which is one reason he agrees to meet with the chief executive officer of Nova Industries, who has arranged demonstrations of their newest interface drive and other inventions that will make them contenders should aliens invade Earth.
Annette Bond captains the Tornado, Nova’s latest vessel with a hyperdrive system, interface missiles, special armor, and the newest generation of heavy lasers. After taking the ship through her paces, she arrives at the research facility to come face to face with Villeneuve, the judge at the trial that ousted her from UESF. She’s now in command of the single ship that could destroy UESF, and her demonstration just proved that to him. But the Dark Eye Interstellar Surveillance System has been picking up disturbing signals and he needs her to rejoin UESF as Tornado’s commander. She accepts on one condition: this time he must back her up no matter whose toes get stepped on in the process.
With a crew that is half UESF and half scientists, Annette no sooner takes command of the new UESF vessel than Dark Eye’s emergency alert system sounds and twenty ships from the A!Tol (! pronounced like “tuck”) Imperium emerge from hyperdrive. These squid-like aliens announce they have annexed Earth’s solar system and a new administration will soon be put in place. Any and all resistance will be quashed. UESF has seventy minutes to comply. Tornado is UESF’s only hyperdrive warship and the alien armament will crush the others like bugs, but the admiral must try. Annette joins Alpha Squadron to attack the enemy, but Villeneuve also gives her special orders. Should the worst occur, she is to take Tornado to the other solar systems and wage war against the enemy as privateers. She and her crew are Earth’s last hope.
Thus begins Book One in the new Duchy of Terra science fiction series. While this adventure takes place in outer space, Stewart craftily blends science with the ways in which privateers of yore waged war at sea. Even one port of call is reminiscent of the buccaneers’ Tortuga, although not quite as safe as one might expect and where it’s best to remember the adage to trust no one. Stewart’s use of description and emotion punctuates just how alone they are in a world where the rules don’t always apply, nothing is known, and danger lurks everywhere. Imagination and cunning abound and Annette has just the right qualifications to deal with the complications arising from their encounters with slavers, kidnappers, pirates, and raiders. This is science fiction at its best in a realm where greed and corruption are rife, and every entity out for itself confronts those sworn to aid and protect. And the twist at the end is one few will expect.
Review Copyrighted ©2018 Cindy Vallar
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