The second book of Honsinger’s military-SF series delivers pretty much everything you’d expect after the first book. Unfortunately, the beginning parts of the novel have some problems. I think he felt too much of a need to re-introduce things with an in media res opening designed to show off Robicheaux’s tactical cunning and generating suspense through use of off-screen actions.

That wouldn’t be too bad as a first-chapter prologue (though I still think there’s better ways to do it), but we’re treated to exactly the same kind of spectacle right afterwards, just a bit more elaborate this time. However, after that the central plot of the story starts taking over and the remaining 70%+ of the book goes a lot smoother.

There’s a good number of familiar tropes again, but as usual they’re well-handled, and they’re not allowed to sidetrack the book. (For instance, we get the ‘snubs from an incompetent superior officer’ this time, but it doesn’t occupy half the book the way it has in some cases.) There’s also a brief lampshade of this series’ relationship to the Aubrey-Maturin series at one point. We also get to see Admiral Hornmeyer a couple times again, and I have to admit the writing for him always makes me laugh.

Overall, its pretty much exactly what you’d expect after the first book: straightforward military SF. It shouldn’t be essential to read the first book before this, but I would highly recommend it.