Top positive review
An excellent rolicking good story!
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2019
Disclosure – I received an advance copy of this book from the author specifically for review.
Imperium Defiant is the third and final book in the Light of Terra trilogy. In in Mr. Stewart’s Duchess of Terra universe, Earth is a part of a multi-species empire. While not by any means the most preeminent species, over the course of the series, Terra (as Earth is referred to in the series) has become an increasingly important part of the Imperium.
I will admit that I was initially skeptical of the books, as they are definitely not ‘hard science fiction’ and more akin to ‘space opera’ – but a rollicking good space opera indeed. Mr. Stewart appears to have the knack of developing good stories, with lively characters that a reader can become involved in. Setting aside the ‘it just works’ elements around the FTL drive and weapons, it easy to come engaged in the world the author creates – and he does build a world, that while relying in part, on ‘handwavium’ and ‘unobtanium’ – it is a world that is consistent and follows a set of rules. Which, by the way, is a refreshing change from some of the illogical dreck foisted upon readers by other authors (who shall remain nameless).
Imperium Defiant neatly wraps up the story started in the book “Darkness Beyond”, the first book of the trilogy. The Imperium, along with one-time enemies now tentative allies, and the mysterious and powerful ‘elder race the Mesharom face down the genocidal race called the “Taljzi’, who’s religious beliefs compel them to kill all other bipedal races.
While neatly wrapping up the storyline, there are surprises that await the reader, as consequences from deeds and events from history explained in prior books now come home to roost. Questions of courage, morality and responsibility have to be faced and answered by the characters. The author invokes the ambiguity of war and its aftermath quite well, leaving the characters with no easy answers and a future that poses many challenges. There are no easy answers or neat solutions, which is an excellent open end that promises future books in the series.
A couple of minor quibbles – 1. The author sometimes is over the top with LGBT relationships. There is absolutely nothing wrong with invoking a future that is much more tolerant and open, however the author seems to try to hard to make it obvious – sometimes the relationships seem bit ‘forced’ to the forefront. It's understandable what the author is trying to do by portraying a more inclusive society, one that meshes well with other species, but it's a minor distraction to have it appear 'forced' at times. It wouldn't be so obvious if other species had similar relationships, but ONLY humans in the story seem to have LGBT relationships, it jumps out. 2. There are some minor, very minor plot points that seem to be at odds with previous statements by characters, or how some events described in the universe’s ‘history’. These might be intentional misdirection by the author, relying on character interpretation or viewpoint but they did cause this reader to go back to previous books because of a ‘wait a minute’ moment.
Overall, this book, as part of a trilogy is strongly recommended. Suspend belief a bit regarding the ‘science’ and immerse yourself in the detailed and interesting world the author has created. I would recommend starting with the first trilogy “Duchy of Terra” (Terran Privateer, Duchess of Terra and Terra and Imperium) as they lay out the background needed to understand the events in the second trilogy.
The books are a relatively easy read and you should be able to finish the entire trilogy in oh, say, less than a half of a long cycle.