Book from author
Type: Sci-Fi, Novel in series
Rating: 4 Stars
Buy at Amazon
Reviewed by 2shay
Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isn’t his father’s ship—bad enough that he can’t yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesn’t have the added stress of commanding former lover Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, knowing the fraternization regulations will keep them apart.
Working on the material he collected himself on T18 three years before, Bennet decodes enough Maess data to send him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity.
It’s not good. It’s not good at all.
It’s odd. Until Anna Butler’s first book in this series, Gryfalcon, I was not a fan of sci-fi. I thought it was just a bunch of incomprehensible mumbo jumbo that only true geeks would ever appreciate. By the time I was about a third through that book, I was hooked and had to admit to myself that a great author can make sci-fi not only easy to understand, but fascinating. This is a complex story, too, with subtlety, conflict and romance.
I was part way through this third book when the subtlety of the series title struck me…Taking Shield. What a great euphemism, in the context of these stories, for taking personal control of your own life. Shield Captain Bennett has spent the majority of his life trying to take control. Moving in with his lover, a man, struck a blow to his very conservative and powerful father, refusing to enter the military academy was another. The final blow, the blow that was almost more than his father could forgive, was Bennett’s decision to join Shield instead of following family tradition by joining Fleet.
There is always conflict in Albion’s ongoing war with the Maess, and subtle, but unmistakable similarities between their issues and our current ones. Bennett is the only human to ever see an organic Maess. The Maess are formidable. They have been encroaching on Albion’s territory for centuries, with every intention of wiping out, killing…annihilating!..every trace of humanity. They do their fighting with drones, very sophisticated drones that appear more human with every new encounter. Still, several of Albion’s colonies are screaming and protesting for peace, while Albion’s president considers Albion to be both father and mother to the colonies and their human occupants. None of the protestors know the horror that Bennett and his team found on the planet, Makepeace…horrors worthy of a collaboration between Stephen King and Gene Roddenberry. If they knew, the protests to “make peace” would die a sudden and brutal death.
This series is not a traditional romance. Junior officers in all branches of Albion’s military are subject to sudden deployments or new postings with little to no advance warning, making long-term relationships impossible. And there are hazards. Between the war and random accidents, the military casualties can take anyone at anytime. Even when opportunities arise, there are fraternization rules, making things more difficult. Humans, however, are social, loving, sexual beings. No matter the obstacles, no matter the risks, humans, like Bennett, will always long for that person, that connection…the connection that makes his heart sing…Fleet Lieutenant Flynn.
Will Albion win the war with the Maess? Will Albion be able to hold its colonies together? Will Bennett and Flynn have any chance at happiness? Only the author, Anna Butler, knows the answers. In the meantime, I think everyone will love this series. These are not stand-alone books. You need to start with book one, Gryfalcon, then Heart Scarab and Makepeace. Enjoy the journey.