Okay, military science-fiction is always a selling point for me, and I have taken too long to get to this series.

It is always presented as a series, and with good reason. While this is a complete story, structure-wise, the overall situation and problem won’t be resolved (presumably) until book six. The good news is that these are relatively short books by modern standards, coming in at ~300 pages each, so this isn’t a six-book series of bloated editing.

The overall set up fairly good, and quite space opera in nature. The Alliance fleet finds an old survival pod on its way to battle, and it happens to contain a near-legendary hero from the beginning of the war—one hundred years ago. This is before the start of the book, and the actual start is the top command of the fleet getting killed, leaving our Jack Geary the most senior captain available—by nearly a century.

The setup is actually handled fairly well, and a lot of the personality, and personality clashes are well done. It’s definitely one of the strong points of the writing. The military side can get into teeth-grating problems… but this is by design. It’s… also a case of making the main character look smarter by ‘dumbing down’ the other characters. However, here, Geary is a professional, well-trained for his job. After a century of taking heavy losses, institutional memory in the fleet is almost non-existent, and all the officers are much younger than they should be. And the characters are generally written as intelligent, they just don’t have a lot of military knowledge and habits they should.

This does also mean that the other characters can serve as a way to naturally bring up how things work and explain them for the reader. One unknown is just how much the Syndicate navy is suffering from the same problem, and I assume it’ll be explored in later books. Similarly, there’s a bit of setup here for the sequel series; Campbell was definitely thinking ahead.

There’s two real battles in this book, plus some other activities (taking down some light planetary defenses), and the action is well handled all the way. It’s also nicely paced. In many ways, this isn’t anything special, just a bunch of milSF tropes seen before, but it is all well crafted, with good writing, characters, plot, and pacing. That’s the real win here, there’s not much in the way of weak points. That makes it worth a look right there, and recommended even to people who may not normally go for this kind of thing.