Top positive review
Mixed feelings about this book.
Reviewed in the United States on July 1, 2019
Three and a half stars. I have many mixed feelings about this book. The second Black Fleet Trilogy (Expansion Wars) saw the rise of the "Black Fleet Mafia". This developed many interesting characters who were overshadowed by Jackson Wolfe in the first trilogy. Dalzelle throws this all aside in this new trilogy and goes back to the old standby. The other "Black Fleet" characters play a roll, but are lost in the shadow of a returning Jackson Wolfe.
Admirals just aren't as interesting as Captains. Admirals who can't realize that they are no longer Captains are even worse. I'm not sure where that leaves an author who can't decide if his main character is an Admiral or a Captain. If he wanted to write stories from a Captain's perspective, he never should have promoted Wolfe beyond Commodore. It isn't too hard to think of a Commodore as just a Captain who is responsible for a couple extra ships.
The rest of the story is rock solid. A great balance that focuses on the intensity of battle while still keeping ever-present the vast distances of space. The minor characters who were so well developed in the "Expansion Wars" still are just as interesting if not more so. I like to imagine Pike as an older James Bond in space (think Sean Connery in "Never Say Never Again"). In fact Dalzelle put so much work into the characters, it is a real shame he doesn't use them more.
There are many threads left to pull you into the next book but this story is complete on it's own. There are so few authors who do that these days it should be noted. When you add interesting characters to a complete story it makes Dalzelle stand out even more. I may have been hard on Jackson Wolfe, but don't for a minute think that I'm not already waiting for the next book...