296 pages. Acknowledgments.
As the novel begins, imperial dropship Venture has exited the webgate and is launching its fighters – the first wave of the invasion of Sabaea, a neutral world. One of the pilots is novice Eli Brody, native of Caledonia, an imperial subject planet. After the fighters clear the way, the rest of the imperial fleet will emerge from the gate.
But wait! The webgate has been blown, destroying the invading fleet in transit, and the fighters are outnumbered by the Sabaen defense fleet…
Several years later, Eli is now living under an assumed name, working as a janitor at a remote Sabaen outpost, when a replacement webgate is finally activated. The first ship to enter the system brings Simon Kovalic, a top covert agent of the Commonwealth… and he wants Eli Brody! Can Eli's Caledonian connections help the agents prevent the empire from deploying a mysterious super-weapon?
This is an espionage adventure set in a sci-fi world a lot like our present-day – well, except for the starships and webgates. Eli must also combat PTSD from whatever happened to him at the Battle of Sabaea, and reestablish contact with his older brother and younger sister.
The author has a humorous style which some readers may like. (It was a little too much for me.)
I wanted to like this book. The subject matter appeals to me. However, I didn't find the characters compelling, the setting was uninteresting, and some of the plot elements would have been more suited to a gritty thriller rather than a Pulpish adventure.
Can you wargame it? The climax involves fighting onboard a spaceship, which might inspire a scenario or two.
Note that this book is apparently a prequel to the Galactic Cold War series, featuring Simon Kavalic.
It's not a bad novel, but I didn't find it enjoyable, so I cannot give it my recommendation.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .