Whenever I start the second or later book in a series, I have a dilemma. Do I go back and re-read the first book(s), or just dive right into the latest release?
To help readers with this, I include a summary of the previous books. I try to make these funny, and have done this for all my novels.
BE WARNED! If you haven’t read the books being summarized, there are massive spoilers on these pages!
You can read the rest of the summaries here.
Let’s get to it.
In an announcer voice: “Last time, on Void Wraith…”
The prologue opens with a prisoner interrogation. Takkar, Clan Leader of the Vkash, seeks to learn more about this mysterious Coalition of United Races, or CUR for short. Since CUR is a stupid acronym, I chose to go with Coalition instead.
Anyway, Takkar gets all villainy, complete with the muhahaha, I’m going to invade the Coalition. He sets a trap, and we already know our heroes are going to walk into it, because… it’s on the freaking cover. Like we can literally see them getting their asses handed to them. Plus, the title is Behind the Lines. Spoilers, right?
The Coalition sends a fleet led by Admiral Fizgig, an angry Tigris based entirely on my house cat, to investigate. Fizgig sends in a ground team, while her cloaked fleet waits in orbit. This ground team is commanded by Major Reval, who doesn’t much like our protagonist, Nolan.
Nolan is the non-emo version of most Anime heroes, a dude in his 20s who’s a total badass in a mech. Reval makes Nolan wait on the ships while he walks into a *gasp* ambush. We’re totally shocked, since we just read the prologue…where we were told this was going to happen.
Reval is attacked by large ape-like aliens called the Ganog. Nolan decides to disobey orders, and leads his squad to bail Reval out of trouble. Then Things Go Badly (TM).
Up in space, Fizgig’s fleet engages the Ganog. The Ganog start kicking her ass in a way the Void Wraith never achieved. She cleverly uses the enemy’s own ships as cover, but knows that she’s going to need to retreat…quickly.
Back on the ground things are going south. Early in the book we’re told that there are three mounds erected around the city, and we have no idea what they’re used for. We find out when 3,000-meter-tall planetstriders step out (see the cover of this book, or download Planetstrider).
The planetstrider blows up their cruisers, catching Annie in the explosion. Nolan, Edwards, Lena, and Hannan are forced to flee into a rust storm. They take shelter, and realize they have no way off world.
Nolan leads a scouting party into an alien market, where they’re approached by a Ganog named T’kon. T’kon says he knows where one of their people is, and will lead them there. Nolan reluctantly agrees, and is brought back to Aluki’s shop.
Aluki is a whalorian—adorable little whale people…with rocket launchers. It turns out Annie survived, which is a good thing for me personally. I killed a fan favorite character in my Void Wraith trilogy, and have been informed that if I go the George R.R. Martin route, snipers will be dispatched to deal with me. I’m constantly looking over my shoulder.
Meanwhile, Fizgig is trying to find a way to deal with the Ganog’s superior technology. She returns to the Birthplace, a mysterious (terribly mysterious) system run by the Ancient Primo. Time passes at an accelerated rate there, speeding the Coalition’s manufacturing.
The Coalition has created the Theta Cannon, which fires a micro-singularity. Fizgig’s ships are armed with these cannons, but it will take time to outfit them all. Time Nolan and Alpha Company may not have.
We flip back to Nolan, who picks up a Coalition signal. He and T’kon lead the squad to the location, racing to beat the Saurian kill squads. There’s a skirmish, and Nolan leads a pair of Coalition survivors to safety. Those survivors turn out to be Burke and Nuchik, both of whom hate Nolan and his squad.
Burke is kind of a dick about, well, pretty much everything. Nuchik doesn’t talk much, but when she does it’s usually to say something dickish. Hannan gets tired of this, and smashes Burke in his smug face with a pot of soup. Things come to a head, but Nolan breaks it up.
He gives a rousing speech about teamwork, then we get a Team America style montage. Nolan’s squad starts working together, assembling the parts to build a small warp device so they can send word back to the fleet.
Along the way, Nolan keeps looking for something called Gorthians. If you’ve been reading the Void Wraith series, you’re like…okay, I get it. If not, you’re probably wondering WTF a Gorthian is. Every twenty-six millennia, the Gorthians return to our part of the milky way to harvest it, and when I say harvest, I mean eat. The only Gorthian we meet in that trilogy is a moon-sized giant floating eye. Of doom.
They tried that harvesting shit on earth, but Fizgig, Dryker, and Nolan were all like…yeah, no. I won’t say more in case you haven’t read those books.
Anyway, I bring up the Gorthians because Nolan keeps hearing the Ganog talk about ‘Nameless Ones’. The more he hears, the more he thinks they sound an awful lot like the Gorthians. We don’t find out if he’s right in this book, but anyone who’s read this far is pretty damned sure of the answer.
Nolan is pondering this very question when Krekon, the Ganog melter, pops onto the scene. He rolls into Nolan’s camp with a whole lot of angry Ganog elites. Fortunately, Sissus is secretly working against Krekon. He manages to warn Nolan, and Nolan is ready when Krekon arrives.
There’s a brutal fight where Edwards is crushed under a collapsing roof. All sorts of pew, pew, BOOM. Then Nolan has a duel with Krekon, the toughest, baddest, gorilla alien you’ve ever seen. Nolan pulls it out at the last second and wins. We’re shocked.
Beating Krekon gives Nolan the last missing piece of the puzzle. Now they have access to a ship, the one Krekon arrived in. So Nolan launches a desperate plan to get his people off world. He is going to assault one of the planetstriders, while everyone else captures Krekon’s cruiser.
This last part should be easy, since Sissus works for Krekon. Sissus tricks the Ganog into opening the ship, and Burke leads a squad in to seize it. Aluki finally uses a rocket launcher. Annie drawls.
The second part is a little harder. How the hell do you do deal with a 3,000-meter, Godzilla-mutant-mech thing? Nolan, T’kon, Lena, and Hannan scale the planetstrider like it’s a mountain. They’re only halfway up when the planetstrider punches out of the mound.
It fires into orbit, where Fizgig has led her newly outfitted fleet back into battle. They deploy their theta cannons, and actually have some success against the enemy. They’re still getting pounded, though (huh, huh).
Nolan battles his way inside the planetstrider’s control room, where we receive a startling revelation. The technology is definitely Primo. That gives them an idea though. Instead of blowing up the control unit, they remove the core and plug in Edwards. Edwards gets to pilot a 3,000-meter planetstrider. Pretty much his dream job.
Fizgig has severely damaged the enemy fleet, but is also taking heavy losses. Her flagship is hit, and things are looking grim.
Lena figures out how to use the planetstrider’s warp, so Nolan orders Edwards to warp them into space. They appear near Fizgig’s flagship, and just start wrecking shop. Ganog ships are blown to shit, and Clan Leader Takkar is forced to warp away.
It’s almost a total victory, except for two problems. Fizgig’s fleet has been savaged, and a lot of her booster mechs were inside Takkar’s flagship when it warped away. Our very last chapter shows Khar realizing this, and trying to figure out what the heck he’s going to do.
On to Hold the Line!