Hope Rearmed (The General)
by David Drake and S.M. Stirling
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Baen Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781476736303
Date: 04 March 2014 List Price $14.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Raj Whitehall with the help of an ancient computer continues his campaign to unite his world. After successfully conquering the Squadron, he moves on the lands held by the Brigade. The Brigade is both better managed and has a higher level of technology. Raj is once again given fewer troops than really needed to do the job. He also has to deal with an heir who does not truly respect him.
Fortunately for Raj, his wife Suzette is able to handle the young heir. She is willing to do the dirty work needed to protect her husband, and keep him in the dark so that he can retain plausible deniability.
Raj also has the unwavering support of his troops. They have absolute faith in him. That allows them to do more than might otherwise be possible. Raj's winning ways are also known to his enemies, which creates another advantage as it demoralizes them.
Hidden from the rest of the world, is Raj's connection with Center. The probability battle computer allows Raj to know the odds of his plans. Center is also able to access old plans that provide Raj with opportunities he could not have elsewise.
This is another of the combined rereleases of the General Series. This book contains The Anvil and The Steel. It continues the Bellevue action of The Forge and The Hammer. Raj must unite the world without attempting to rule, or the descent into barbarism will continue and the Galaxy will face many millennia before reunification.
This omnibus covers the whole of the Brigade campaign. There is definitely a similarity to the Belisarius series. In both cases there is an outside entity that is able to assist the hero. The difference is that there is not an evil antagonist in The General series. There are plenty of bad people, but no singular evil force that is attempting to bring civilization down. As a later entrant into a series, it isn't the best jumping off point, but enough of the prior action is provided early in the book to allow a new reader to follow the action.
Readers of the series know about Suzette's actions. Her actions make her hard to like for people raised in many faiths. She is willing to use her body, kill, or do just about anything to protect her husband. This makes her the perfect companion for Raj, but may leave readers less than happy. In my readings I am never sure if Raj knows or not. Many of his men of course know, but do not want to bring it to his attention. This definitely leaves a bit of a quandary, is Suzette a good wife or not? Read and decide for yourself.