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The Warstrider series continues with the confederation fighting for its survival, desperately underpowered and undermanned. A series of strategic blunders almost wipes their tiny rebellion out of existence. But don’t worry, they don’t go away that easily and neither do the Xenophobes.
Book three picks right up where two left off. Dev Cameron is admiral of their only warship, while working hard to get more ships. Katia, back on New America, is leading a campaign to defeat the invading imperial forces. There are more exciting battles between incredibly enormous and ponderous war machines, some as big as large buildings. Don’t ask why they are so big, just enjoy the ride. Katia picks up an unusual band of engineered humans along the way, Genies (gene manipulated slaves), who want to help and are as interesting as they are misunderstood.
Douglas has hit his stride in book three. The action continues, but we also get a deeper understanding of the Imperium, what makes the Japanese “tick.” Their cruel and ancient hierarchical society is as believable as it is oppressive. The listener gets a kind of “Dune” feeling to the story. The heavy hand of an ancient tyranny that has institutionalized torture and slavery and used high technology to protect its power at all costs. One early scene is especially chilling: a bioengineered plant/person is kept in the art room of one of the imperials as a kind of living sculpture. The poor creature is in perpetual pain, with just enough mental capacity to know that it is in pain and can never escape, silently screaming for the unknown length of its life.
David Drummond is the same narrator as the first two books and continues to do his excellent work. He is more than capable at his delivery. He sometimes gives high whiny voices to minor warrior characters, but that is easily overlooked. More importantly, he does an excellent job with all the Japanese voices, words and phrases, which is critical to the story.
It is not really fair to judge book three against the first two, it is part of a much larger story and does its job well. If you have listened to book one and two (why would you be reading this review otherwise), and enjoyed them, you will like book three even more and look forward to book four.
Audiobook provided for for review by the publisher.