by Patrick A. Vanner
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Steve Sawicki
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133842
Date: 07 September 2010 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Captain Alexandra (Alex) Ross commands a light cruiser and finds herself hip deep in a battle she can't win against an enemy she doesn't understand. Still, she'll give it her best because every second she is in the fight is a second that someone else can use to survive. And she makes every second count, taking down more enemy than she has any right to account for and ensuring that survivors manage to get free. To top it all off she manages to survive long enough to limp home, where she is given a heroes welcome (after some initial disturbance) and command of a new, and bigger ship.
Soon enough she's right back in the fight and once again in a battle she can't win but can't leave. To make matters worse it appears that there's a traitor among her crew and if she doesn't find out who she'll never manage to pull off the win that humanity needs in order to survive.
This is yet another entry into Baen's military SF line with a female protagonist. As such it's a pretty good effort. There were only two things that poked at me a bit as I read. The first was the naming of all these navy ships with Norse designations. I suppose it might happen but each time I got to a ship name it made me twitch. Not something you want happening while you are deep in the story. The second thing is the militarization of women which makes them nothing more than female men in command. While I like the female protagonist, there's not much there that requires the character to actually be a woman. That's okay it impinges on the story not at all.
Overall I enjoyed the book. There was plenty of action (even if some of it was modeled on sailing ships), the pace was frenetic and the characters were interesting and engaging. The alien threat was also an intriguing antagonist and created a logical counterpoint to human tactics as theirs was based on an entirely different psychology. This was refreshing and certainly added to the enjoyment.
Definitely a recommended read if you are looking for a good military sf novel that has plenty of ship to ship fighting and opportunities galore for last minute heroics.