Found barely clinging to life, stuck in a malfunctioning statis pod aboard a derelict space salvage vessel known to have been attacked by marauding aliens over two hundred years ago, Ben Corbin would require significant nanite augmentation to be physically reconstructed. His salvage company partner and old-time marine comrade Sam Garrett, would even require neural pathway reconstruction to survive.
In the two centuries since the duo’s ill-fated contact with the technologically advanced but vampiric Gar Rei, a lot has changed. Humans have become a key supplier of synthetic hemo-gel, a food source the Gar Rei require on their home planet Jha Ni and for long duration deployment into space, a staple they’re unable to replicate due to cultural restrictions.
A delicate peace exists between the two races which can only be cemented with embassies being established on each races’ home planets. But the Gar Rei only want Ben and Sam to represent humans. They’re the first known survivors of a Gar Rei attack.
Post-op, Ben finds himself at odds with reality. Two hundred years is a long time to be disassociated from life, and he’s feeling the effects. He yearns for his wife and desperately wants to ensure Sam’s welfare. But, Ben’s skeptical about the information he’s being fed. He has a plan. And, he isn’t going to let anyone get in his way from getting to the truth. But the authorities, the legislature and the military have other plans.
Given his condition, can Ben even survive the conflicting interests? Can he satisfy the needs of the many? Can he be prepared in time, to take on the greater threat from the highly aggressive and advanced Ninetheenth, a squid-like alien species that’s bringing war to the home turf?
For the most part, the main character’s emotions, conflicted thinking and need to verify everything for himself, reveals a very human aspect which could arise from elongated isolation. Fortunately, the dialogue flows easily and the story races along so the reader isn’t sidetracked by the MC’s many ponderings.
Lawrence N. Oliver’s crafted a superb first book in what will no doubt be an epic series. His style has the intensity of B.V. Larson’s Undying Mercenaries military science fiction series, the depth of character building from Ken Lozito’s Ascension space opera series, and world-building from John Walker’s set of Legacy Wars novels.
Lawrence has set up his main character in a position where great things will be expected. In fact, the entire book’s dedicated to setting up Ben’s character. I was expecting the MC to perform some kind of miraculous feat towards the end. However, I’m left salivating for the next installment.