The Ember War by Richard Fox
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Ember War(The Ember War Saga book 1)by Richard Fox
This book was suggested by an acquaintance and the initial sample looked interesting so I downloaded the book and got right to it. As it is it's good, but it goes on my increasing love hate list. The story starts with a familiar beginning: to me. An alien AI probe arrives in the solar system on a fact finding mission, find the right level of intelligence and technology and begin the process of preparation for fending off an invasion or find something below that level and move on to the next target, since the solar system, if ill equipped, will be doomed to fall under the force soon to arrive. The good news is that there are sixty years to prepare, the bad news is we just barely make the grade and Mark Ibarra is our only hope.
Fast forward 60 years and we have some Marines arriving on a mining outpost owned by the Ibarra Corporation. Our main character Ken Hale is there investigating an outpost with which communication has ceased mysteriously. As it turns out something has gone wrong, terribly wrong, and most of the people at the facility are dead. As far as I recall there is no definitive explanation for the malfunction (only suspicion), but this is mostly the introduction of our MC to a mystery involving the Iberra Corporation, the supposed mining outpost and a bit of world building explaining the relationship the military has to Iberra. More importantly it introduces the ship Breitenfeld which is where most of our action takes place.
We switch next to a much older Marc, who is preparing for the worst since this is the projected year that the invasion forces will arrive. It takes a bit of time for the story to wind up but when it does it goes off and hardly lets up. There is a lengthy cast of characters and barely enough time to note them on the score cards before the action ramps up. The Chinese and the Iberra Corporation have a bit of a cold war going with acquisition of technology instead of land as the motivator. This is not a war Marc wants to fight just as he begins to gear up for a far more important engagement. This forces his hands and he makes decisions, that have consequences for people aboard ships he basically hijacks; and one of those people is his granddaughter.
This book has everything that the average lover of Military Science Fiction will soak up like a sponge. And once the action starts there are hardly moments for the characters to take a breath. It's written well and sparse, which accounts for my problems with it. I love character driven stories and this one has some potential but the necessity for putting aside that for the focus on the action, left me a bit in the lurch.Besides not having any real solid point of view character to focus on, there were not enough details for my tastes though again that's because of the point of view. I think it might be fair to call Ken the point of view and we do get a fair idea of what he's about. But another important character is Stacy, Marc's granddaughter, who we barely get to know; yet her role is vital.
There are some reveals about Marc and the plan and some of Stacy's life near the end and I'm assuming there will be a series and plenty of time to get to know Stacy, maybe. And even though the story doesn't really end; it does conclude enough to be satisfying.
This is great SFF Military and Suspense and I think, because there were several threads or plot aspects that mirrored stories I've already read, I expected more emphasis on the characters and their story to keep the story fresh and new and that didn't quite come up to my expectations. For those who haven't read some of the same stories I have, this might well read as a top notch SFF Thriller. I definitely recommend reading it.
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