Another book from the Kindle Unlimited Library & Amazon & while I wish this one was better, it’s also not as bad as some of the others I’ve read … in fact there are some elements that I really liked.

To Honor You Call Us tells the story of a ship that has not had too much luck in terms of its previous Captain.  Now this isn’t a case of the person being a down on his luck Old Sot like I spoke about in Constitution, but rather in this case the Captain is very domineering and a stickler for spit and polish without any understanding of the reason or rationale for that requirement.  As the Captain of a ship that was responsible simply for transporting an Inspecting Admiral from location to location, his personality might work but in a combat theater his personality and attitude quickly impacted the crew to such an extent that in previous trials, his ship was either destroyed outright or fled the battlefield!  As you can well imagine, the morale of the crew on the Cumberland was nothing less than atrocious and in fact the rest of the fleet took to calling the ship the “Cumberland Gap” as she was so hopeless!

Into this morass is thrust a hard fighting and quick thinking young ensign.  Not having previous command experience, he while flattered to receive the promotion, to some extent also realizes that the reason he’s received it is because he can’t really screw things up anymore!  However, not only is Max able to do well, he’s able to turn around the feelings of the crew and win some stunning victories against their mortal enemies – the Krag – in the process!


What I liked and didn’t like


  • The Krag are actually quite an interesting villain and I like the detail provided about them.  Without ruining the story in any way, I can tell you that Earth was “visited” millions of years ago by unknown aliens.  These aliens took samples of Earth material to a new planet and it is here that the Krag developed.  However they didn’t evolve from monkeys as mankind did, but rather from Rats.  As such while they share DNA with us, they are definitely not in any way Human and have a completely different way of acting, breeding and fighting.  I think they make an excellent villain, but I really didn’t like how long it took to get any detail on them.  While I understand that you wouldn’t necessarily expound upon the nature of your foe in the first 20 pages, it felt like the book was almost complete before I knew who we were fighting and why.  I think it would have been much better to provide that information up front as it would have given me a greater insight and empathy for the characters and their struggles from the get go.
  • There is lots of similarity here to the Nicholas Seafort series of books by David Feintuch in my eyes.  While many compare Honor Harrington to the Horatio Hornblower series of books, I really think that Seafort is the worthy owner of that title.  I liked the explanation of why boarding parties are still in use and why they utilize swords and knives in battle (in addition to guns).  It made sense and definitely helped me visualize the action sequences in much greater detail.  I would have liked for there to be more scenes with hand-to-hand combat but that’s a small quibble!
  • Admiral Hornmeyer is an awesome character.  Irascible is the best way to describe him.  Doesn’t take shit from anyone and isn’t afraid to swear to get the job done.  Really well written and funny and his parts in the book are both too short and too infrequent.  Would love to see him more.
  • Dr. Sahin is a bit weird to my taste … he always seems to have the right response and knowledge and I’d think that his reactions would be slower than a marine not faster.  Really makes you wonder if perhaps he’s a spy or something like that in disguise?
  • The attack against the Battle Cruiser was extremely well done and I really enjoyed reading that whole sequence.  While I understand the reason and rationale of focusing so much of the book on the morale of the crew and even the shopping trips of the Doctor, I really wish there had been more sequences similar to this throughout the book as they were excellent.
  • The writing overall is not too bad … it does however at times feel a bit jerky? In addition while the characters are interesting they also don’t really seem 100% natural and it feels like they are playing a role.  It’s weird, there isn’t any one specific thing I can point to, but it’s just a bit off.

I’ve spoken already about Kindle Unlimited (its pros and cons) so won’t go into too much detail on it here. Suffice it to say from my point of view its a way of getting books cheap (often from new or fairly unknown authors), but that being said, no one wants to read books that aren’t worth it, so here is my quick and dirty list of the books to get and the ones to miss for the Military SciFi buff. So without further ado, here’s my list from worst to best. Oh yeah, if you’re interested in purchasing any of the books on this list, click through to Amazon on this link.

Constitution – Book 1 of the Legacy Fleet by Nick Webb (3.3)

My thoughts

I think this was one I’ve rated lower because of the quality of other books that I was reading at the time and it just jarred me. Reading through this overall list now, I’d probably give it a higher overall score and might end up adjusting it in the future depending upon how the other books in the series do (assuming that I read them 🙁 )

What’s it about?

Broken down ship, broken down and down on his luck captain, Engineer and Doctor that are caricatures of Scotty and Bones … unfortunately nothing really new or original to this tale and the writing and editing errors simply don’t help the situation. The enemy is somewhat interesting but they are also limited in my estimation and I think its the lack of originality that is probably the most disappointing here.

Escape to Earth Series by Andrew Saxon (5.8)

My thoughts

Some interesting ideas and concepts but the massive fleet battles tend to take away from any caring that you might have for the characters. In addition, it seems that regardless of the challenge put forward, there is always a technical solution waiting in the wings ready to be deployed. Its hard to really have any empathy for the death and destruction when you know that its only temporary.

What’s it about?

In this case an escape pod from an advanced race crash lands on Earth with one survivor. This survivor is “changed” to look like Human’s although he retains his strength and intelligence which are both greater than normal mankind. Realizing that the people that attacked him will not rest till he is recaptured, this escapee decides that his greatest hope for survival is helping Earth’s forces and Earth itself modernize in preparation for the upcoming alien invasion.

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Swarm Series by BV Larson

My thoughts

The first book is actually quite good although you will be exposed to quite a few typo’s and other writing related errors. As a 10 issue series (& counting) it will keep you engaged for quite a while, and while its good (mindless) reading, its definitely not at the same level of quality as some of the others in this list. However for a read on the beach or a similar distraction it will probably keep you quite well engaged.

What’s it about?

Similar to many others on this list, Swarm is about an imminent attack on Earth that could cause the extinction of Humanity. Once again – similar to Ember Wars – another species chooses to send out emissaries to save those under attack … this time the emissaries choose their candidates in a brutal Darwinian process that weeds out all but the strongest and smartest leaving those survivors as the pilots of a fleet of ships. These ships are the only hope for Earth’s survival and as they are somewhat self aware, they don’t always have Humanities best interests at heart.

Human Legion Series by Tim Taylor (6.1)

My thoughts

Book 1 starts out way too slowly and while its written well, the action sequences take forever. Subsequent books are definitely better paced which is good, although this is primarily in terms of the action itself, unfortunately the underlying (and overarching) story progresses only slowly.

What’s it about?

In the not too distant future Earth was approached by an Alien Superpower. In exchange for Earth’s survival, millions of children were sold into slavery to found the Marine Corps. These “children” without any knowledge of Earth would change/grow and develop over the centuries to come into an enhanced race of warriors – and while most of their enemies see them as nothing more than cannon fodder with third rate weaponry and training, over time that changes.

Battle Cruiser by BV Larson (6.8)

My thoughts

The same author as the Swarm series (also on this list), this one is written significantly better & has a much larger scope than that one. The characters are much more interesting and while the book starts out somewhat slowly, it quickly picks up pace.

What’s it about?

Earth had established a small interstellar empire with several different colony worlds and more continually being founded. However when a solar flare disrupts the wormhole network that connects these splintered colonies together, Earth is left alone once more. With widespread devastation throughout the solar system, the colonies are left to wither as a secondary concern and gradually Earth focuses more and more on issues closer to home. Hundreds of years later however, it seems that the colonies haven’t necessarily forgotten or even forgiven Earth for their abandonment and they have some lessons of their own they want to deliver.

Space Carrier Avalon by Glynn Stewart (7.3)

My thoughts

Space Carrier Avalon is also about a legacy ship (similar to Constitution also on this list) from a war fought decades previously but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. The Captain is absolutely not a broken down has-been, the engineer is not Scotty and the ships’ doctor is not Bones! This book is well written and is absolutely engaging almost from page 1.

What’s it about?

No aliens here, the battles are human v.s. human and the “baddies” are the Terran Commonwealth. Lots of good fighter action and also some well explained and detailed inter-ship combat.

Steel Breach series by Casey Calouette (7.7)

My thoughts

Really well written and thought out, this book definitely takes us in a different direction to the others in the list. While there are some significant battles being fought, the technology on the front lines is absolutely understandable and recognizable and is in some ways more archaic than you’d expect.

What’s it about?

Penal battalion is sent in with unfamiliar leadership, weaponry and training and expected to make a difference in an all out war to the death. We’ve seen similar scenarios before, but this one is definitely well conceived and written and the underlying story arc that is only explored briefly in Book One is extremely interesting and engaging.

Fractured Space Series by J G Cressey (8)

My thoughts

Looking at the list as a whole, I’ve probably rated this one a bit higher than it should be, however I’m going to let it stand right now as it is written well and while the story is a bit weird, it is also interesting.  Interesting enough for me to want to read the next part that’s for sure!

What’s it about?

A ragtag group of castaway’s are thrown together through a bizarre set of circumstances on a strangely changed Mars.  Here Mars is a big game preserve and a farming planet where the monsters from other planets and dinosaurs from Earth’s past are left to roam free … prey only to a few solitary hunters that track and kill them for Earth’s teeming masses.  By itself that would be quite interesting, but Mars is just the start of the story as these castaways need to determine not only why they were marooned on Mars in the first place, but also why all communications with all other humans in all the populated planets seems to have ended so abruptly.  Are they the only surviving humans left?

Saiph Series by PP Corcoran (8)

My thoughts

Really well written and gripping right from the get go.  The characters are interesting and engaging and perhaps most refreshing – they are not infallible!  They make mistakes and are as human as we are.  The enemy in book one is somewhat faceless and amorphous but that quickly changes in book two – in fact by the end of the second book the question of who the real enemy is starts to raise its head!  Definitely recommend this one.

What’s it about?

In the not too distant future mankind manages to perfect faster than light travel.  This isn’t the type of travel you’d expect with wormholes and varying degrees of acceleration but is almost instantaneous for thousands of light years in all directions.  On the maiden voyage their ship detects an artificial signal on a planet and after much investigation they realize that these are the remnants of a long dead civilization.

However this civilization has a connection with humanity as the DNA of the alien species and humanity is almost identical.  We quickly come to realize that while we were not seeded on Earth, our DNA was manipulated in a last ditch effort by the Saiph to escape oblivion and destruction and to leave a little bit of themselves behind in their battle with the “Others”.  What they have also left us is a library of information to help bootstrap humanity so that they can survive when the Others come hunting them too!

I think I spoke about Kindle Unlimited in a previous post so I won’t go into all of my negatives on it here as you can read about them in that post.  One good thing I will state about it though is that it does help to introduce you to new authors that you might not have read previously and one of these for me is Tim C. Taylor.  Tim has a bunch of books accessible on Kindle Unlimited and the first that I read was Marine Cadet.

In the not too distant future Earth was approached by an Alien Superpower.  In exchange for Earth’s survival, millions of children were sold into slavery to found the Marine Corps.  These “children” without any knowledge of Earth would change/grow and develop over the centuries to come into an enhanced race of warriors – and while most of their enemies see them as nothing more than cannon fodder with third rate weaponry and training, over time that changes.

Marine Cadet tells the story of a young 17 year old boy – Arun McEwan still in the early stages of his Marine training in strange and hostile universe.  We get introduced to several other aliens in this novel and also get a glimpse of Arun’s possible future as the leader of a human rebellion.  However the pace is somewhat slow – especially in comparison to books 2 & 3 – and it seems to take forever for anything of significance to happen.

While part of that is because we’re being introduced to the characters and the whole underlying story its been done better – Old Man’s War by John Scalzi for example has a similar theme.  However that’s probably my biggest gripe with the book to be honest.  The characters are interesting and you definitely want to see what happens to them in the future. You have your usual mix of characters – bellowing Marine Sergeants, bullying peers etc… – but the aliens are a good addition and Pedro especially is quite likeable.

Arun is different to the other marines and while his hormonal impulses do get annoying for an outsider to read, realizing that he is only 17 years old in the story helps to put them into perspective!  While some of the scenes with him are cringe inducing they somehow do make sense.  The idea of “Culling” while also cringe inducing (but for perhaps different reasons) makes sense in the context of this world and for that matter the way that human castoffs are treated by their overseers tends to reinforce this idea even more.

Cover of "Ender's Game (Ender Quartet)"
Cover of Ender’s Game (Ender Quartet)

Weaponry and the suits that the Marine’s use, along with their inbuilt AI is not too far off by any means and don’t seem in any way to be magical.  Even the space drives while they don’t get into the specifics are not warp capable as travel between different stars requires the marines to go into a form of hypersleep for the duration of the journey.

There isn’t anything “new” introduced in this book, however Tim does make it work and while at times the pace can be a bit plodding (as mentioned above), the underlying development of Arun and the rest of his comrades does keep you coming back for more.  I think I’ve already alluded to the fact that this book is different to #2 and #3 – the primary difference being the pace so I’m very glad to see that Tim obviously took into account feedback from his readers.

The battles when they do finally arrive are written well and are extremely believable.  While there is some allusion to a game – similar to Ender’s Game and the mock battles played by the boys perhaps? – this is explored only peripherally and could have probably been expanded upon.  We get some insight into why Arun is so important but this book very much serves as a jumping off point for the volumes that follow as the conspiracy is only lightly touched upon here.

 

Overall recommendation –

By itself I probably wouldn’t recommend this book.  There are others that have the same or similar themes that are written better and have more interesting characters and content.  However taken as a whole – as part of a larger series which this is, yes I’d probably get it.  Especially if you can grab it for free as I did on Kindle Unlimited (well not really free, but you know what I mean).  It’s good enough to get you through to the end and books 2 and 3 are definitely more action packed.

The End of Time – Part I

A Christmas two-part’er for the final episodes of the 10th Doctors incarnation sees The Master & The Timelords return!!!

Summary of Part 1

When The Doctor goes to visit the Ood, he is informed that The Master is returning and also that “something” else from the Darkness is returning also. Rushing off to Earth to stop the Master’s return, the Doctor arrives too late and a new – more monstrous – version of The Master has returned. His rejuvenation attempt not fully completed due to the intervention of Lucy Saxon – The Master is now voracious for Life Force and is feeding of humans to get it!!

The Doctor confronting The Master in this incarnation is unable to stop him and is forced to acknowledge that the drumming that The Master is constantly mentioning is in fact real (I love it when series authors are able to tie back a single plot device to something so much larger … I really have to give them credit for mapping it all out in advance in this way) and that The Master is not insane. Appealing to The Master to help him in dealing with the “something from the darkness” The Master is instead captured and The Doctor left behind.

The Doctor meets Wilfred Mott (Donna’s grandfather) – who acts as The Doctor’s companion in this episode and together they track down The Master who has been captured by Naismith. Naismith is using The Master to rebuild an alien device that he has come across called the Immortality Gate. Unbeknown to Naismith however is the fact that two of his assistants are in fact aliens in disguise – Vinvocci – and are there to salvage the Gate. The Master given access to the Gate by Naismith is able to quickly restore it to working order.

While this has happened, the Doctor has discovered where the Master has been taken and journeys there with Wilf to try and stop him. Once again, discovering too late what the Master is working on, he is unable to stop the Master from entering the Gate and imprinting himself on every Human being on Earth except – Wilf, The Doctor and Donna Noble!

Part One ends revealing that the Narrator, who has appeared throughout the episode warning of the end of humanity on Christmas Day is the Leader of the Time Lords, and he announces that this is the day that the Time Lords will return!!

My Thoughts –

OK, as mentioned … I love the fact that the Sound of the Drums is real and that it could portend something much greater. I love the fact that the Master is able to use his Life Force as a weapon (& a source of propulsion!) and the skull effect is brilliant. On the positive side … The TimeLords have returned! WOW … didn’t see that one coming at all. Throughout this new incarnation of the Doctor, the fact that he is the “last of the TimeLords” is something that has impacted him greatly … with their return … what’s going to happen now???

Now – on the negative side … while The Master taking over the whole human race in such a fashion is cool … the overall effect seemed very “Matrixy” to me – how about you? Didn’t it just seem like Agent Smith assimilating everyone?

The End of Time – Part II

Summary of Episode –

Captured and taunted by The Master, The Doctor and Wilf are saved by the Vinvocci. Escaping from the multiple Masters, they go into hiding in the Vinvocci ship that is orbiting the Earth. Quickly realizing that The Master could easily destroy the ship, The Doctor disables the ship and hides it from the Earth based sensors.

Unable to find The Doctor, the world of Master’s concentrate on the“sound of drums” – this sound amplified a billion times becomes clearer and The TimeLords are able to use it to send a focusing device through the Time Lock. This focus – a fallen Gallifreyan diamond, called a Whitepoint Star is immediately recognizable by The Master and The Doctor. As these diamonds are only available on Gallifrey, The Doctor realizes that The TimeLords have found a loophole and are going to escape from the Time War.

Contrary to expectations, The Doctor is NOT happy that the TimeLords are returning and he indicates in no uncertain way that in the Final Days of the Time War, the TimeLords changed from their more benevolent selves into a fanatical race, willing to do anything and everything to win.
The Doctor quickly rushes to stop The Master, but once again arrives too late as the Time Lord Council appears through the Immortality Gate. The Master plans to use the Gate now to imprint himself on all Time Lords, but the Time Lord President stops him and undoes the previous change by the Gate and restores humanity. The President then reveals that now freed of the Time Lock, the Time Lords will end time and creation itself in order to live eternally as pure consciousness.

The Doctor tells The Master that that is why he had to stop the Time Lords at the end of the Time War, as he knew they were planning that. Gallifrey begins to materialise by the Earth, and the Doctor reveals that it will soon be followed by all the other horrors from the Time War.
The Doctor determines that instead of killing The Master or the President, he can instead use Wilfs gun to destroy the diamond that is maintaining the link.

Doing so and reversing the process so that the TimeLords are sent back into the Time Lock, the Doctor is further threatened by the President, but is instead saved by The Master!! Furious that he had been manipulated since a child by the President, The Master attacks the President in a rage. Gallifrey, The Master and all the Time Lords disappear back into the Time Lock. The fate of the Master, who also vanishes, is unclear.

Surprised to still be alive, The Doctor starts to rejoice only to hear 4 knocks … Wilf has been trapped in the isolation chamber which will soon be flooded with lethal radiation, killing him instantly. The Doctor initially rages about his fate – stating that“I could do so much more” and that Wilfred is “unimportant”. However, realizing that his fate is pre-ordained and that he cannot leave Wilfred to die, The Doctor sacrifices himself to save Wilf, and in the process suffers a massive dose of radiation.

Although he survives initially, the healing of the Doctor’s wounds show that his regeneration has started. He takes Wilfred home and brief scenes show him fleetingly visiting several past companions. Not wishing to change and stating that he doesn’t want to go, the Doctor completes his regeneration in an unusually violent manner with the TARDIS windows shattering and the console room bursting into flames. The newly-regenerated Eleventh Doctor explores his new body before eventually recognising that the TARDIS is hurtling back to Earth, taking the controls and gleefully shouting “Geronimo!”

My Thoughts –

Sad that David Tennant is gone … really liked him as The Doctor and he definitely made the role his own … however from what I understand the new Doctor has signed on for at least 3 years which means there are going to be some good stories coming and hopefully further details. Also, despite my previous comments about the Time Lords – quite cool that they were “bad” at the end … however, being the last Time Lord, also means there is no one else with the same amount of power as the Doctor, which also means that he really can’t lose. Also with the Master gone, the Daleks gone and Cybermen gone, this is even more true! Also really good scenes between Wilfred and The Doctor where initially Wilf said he’d be happy if the Doctor was his son and then The Doctor saying he’d be proud if Wilf was his dad. Really good. The tie in of “the sound of drums” from such a long time ago to this point – really well done.

I look forward to seeing what’s coming … it should be interesting!!