Thursday, May 3, 2012

In Her Name: The Last War - Michael R. Hicks

In Her Name: The Last War
Michael R. Hicks
Imperial Guard Publishing
Copyright: 2011

The Amazon.com product description:
THE LAST WAR is a trilogy collection of the complete text of the novels IN HER NAME: FIRST CONTACT, LEGEND OF THE SWORD, and DEAD SOUL.

FIRST CONTACT

Led by Commander Owen McClaren, the TNS Aurora is embarked on an extended survey mission, searching for new worlds that could support human life. Drawn to an uncharted star system by the discovery of potentially habitable planets, the crew of the Aurora discovers something entirely unexpected: the planets are already inhabited, but not by humans. Approached by gigantic alien starships, Aurora's crew makes ready for humanity’s very first contact with another sentient race.


LEGEND OF THE SWORD

Six months have passed since the destruction of the human colony on Keran by the alien Kreelan Empire. Earth and other human worlds band together to form the Confederation of Humanity to provide a mutual defense against the alien invaders.

Unfortunately, not all human worlds want to join the Confederation. Some, like Saint Petersburg, would rather see it destroyed. With a powerful navy built in secret and armed with nuclear weapons, Saint Petersburg is preparing their own offensive against the Confederation when the Kreelans attack.


DEAD SOUL

Three years after the brutal first contact encounter with the alien Kreelan Empire, the human Confederation is desperate for a victory. With over a dozen worlds under siege by legions of Kreelan warriors, President McKenna orders the Confederation military to deliver a victory to give humanity hope.

Roland Mills, Valentina Sikorsky, Ichiro Sato and his wife Steph, along with the irrepressible General James Sparks are once again at the sharp end of the spear in a mission to take back the colony of Alger’s World from the alien invaders before it’s too late.
In Her Name: The Last War is the second omnibus edition by Michael R. Hicks. The first one, reviewed here, is simply called In Her Name. This one can't really be called a sequel though, as it's set a century or so before the first trilogy, which detailed the end of the war between the Confederation and the Kreelan Empire. The Last War on the other hand, covers the first contact between humanity and the Kreelans, as well as the first years of the war.

After reading the first In Her Name trilogy, I found myself sympathetic to both sides in this conflict, something I rather liked with this series, rather than it all being one-sided. Some of the best classic science fiction - Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein comes to mind as an example - portrays a war for humanity's existence from just the one point of view. In this one, you've got numerous human points of view - my favourites were Steph and Ichiro - as well as a range of different Kreelan perspectives, some of whom are quite familiar from the other trilogy. As a result, I found myself with an even better understanding of how their culture worked.

For example, a true picture of their technological level, and how things such as ships and the like are made, as well as more about the Kreelan pattern of life, something I found to be quite intriguing.  It's interesting to see a culture with a high technological understanding deliberately choosing to live in ways we consider to be low-tech - riding and pack beasts and the like, but at the same time using starships and shuttlecraft etc.

Michael R. Hicks writes some very good, fast-paced military science fiction. As with the previous trilogy, this was a book that I couldn't put down - to the point that I was getting frustrated whenever I had to charge my e-reader up again. And I didn't want the book to end either. All of the characters, even those who showed up for just a short time felt real, and regardless of which side they were on, I found myself rooting for them.

In terms of reading order, I don't think it really matters which of the two trilogies you read first, as they both seem to stand independent of one another and are separated by a fair span of time. Which is rather nice, as it's refreshing to be able to read one and not find myself going "no I can't read this until I've read that".

To my mind at least, this book is suitable for a wide range of readers, from teens onwards. Yes, there's violence, but that obviously doesn't seem to matter - look at The Hunger Games. The violence is about the same, and there isn't much else that people can object to. So, if you like science fiction, especially military science fiction, I'd have to say give In Her Name: The Last War a try. I definitely consider this book to be worth five stars, and I'm sure I'll be re-reading it in the reasonably near future too.
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