o, the war that got started in Vanguard heats up with Humanity and the Tadpoles against another pair of races, foxes and cows, who have the advantage of FTL communications. Captain Susan Onarina has been absolved (with stern warning) of the charge of mutiny (when she turned a stunner on her panicking captain) and saved ship and fleet from destruction. And Midshipman George (Georgina) Fitzwilliam has her own troubles, namely four new middies under her and challenges to her authority.
So the Vanguard and the human fleet proceeds to a borderline planet, Unity, to smoke out the aliens and, of course, they do. The fleet gets battered and forced to swing through alien space to draw off as many resources as they can from Unity. Meanwhile, George has lost control of her charges and been busted when a disastrous crime is discovered; transferred to shuttles, she is ferrying marines to the planet when the shit hits the fan (and the shuttle hits the trees). So now we have two interesting aspects of the war – the command deck with Onarina, and the ground actions from Fitzwilliam.
This book is on par with all it’s predecessors, interesting space battles with a touch of Horatio Hornblower thrown in. The battles are sharp, edge-of-your-seat stuff, and George, you really feel sorry for how her life has come out. There are some interesting surprises in store, such as exactly how the aliens communicate FTL (pretty clever) and just what was really going on in the middie deck. If you’ve followed my recommendations towards this series, you should look into the third set. The action continues and the characters develop. What more can a reader ask for?