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…”
Hold the Line kicked off with Takkar being received by the Empress of the Ganog Imperium. We’re introduced to the concept of a Ganog Adept for the first time, and we learn that warriors and Adepts (Ganog monks) don’t play nicely.
The Empress makes it clear that she could kill Takkar, but decides not to once he shows her a Coalition core. She agrees to re-outfit his fleet, and to lend her own to augment his forces. Together, they’ll crush the Coalition, muahaha.
Meanwhile, the real baddy is quietly introduced in the background. His name is Utfa, and he’s part of the seeker caste. The seekers are religious zealots dedicated to attracting the gaze of the Nameless Ones, which even Takkar thinks is crazy. More on Utfa later.
Khar manages to escape into the underbelly of Takkar’s dreadnought, where he joins forces with a spunky little Whalorian, named Halut. Astute readers caught the subtext that Aluki is looking for her missing husband, and correctly realized that’s Halut.
Halut helps Khar board a Saurian transport, and he escapes into the Imperial City. Khar learns that he needs money to afford a warp home, but that if he can get the money, he can go back to Ganog 7. To get that money, Khar starts fighting in the arena.
Scenes like these are why I write, and 10-year-old Chris would be ridiculously excited about how awesome Khar fighting in the arena is. Hell, 40-year-old Chris is excited about it. Khar, as expected, kicks the crap out of his first opponent.
A weasily Ganog in the crowd tells Khar that he can arrange a fight in the Royal Spire, which will give Khar enough money to warp. Khar agrees, only to find he’s been sold out. He and many other Ganog and Saurians have been forced into very lethal games.
Those games culminate with a grand melee where the survivors brawl with a full Ganog elite in their great form. Khar does pretty well, almost blinding the Ganog. The Empress stops the fight, and we learn that Kokar (the Ganog) is the heir to the Nyar Clan. He’s embarrassed, and pretty pissed at Khar.
Meanwhile, Nolan and T’kon have landed on the Azi home world. Their fake goal: bring the Azi into the war on their side. The Azi hate the Vkash, because Takkar and his clan broke their only planetstrider and peed on their lawn. Cats were shaved. Dogs got spray painted. It was terrible.
Since T’kon can re-activate the Azi planetstrider, he figures maybe they’ll work with him. Instead, they’re assholes. It turns out the clan is now led by his former friend, Ro’kan. Good old Ro-Ro also stole T’kon’s wife. Ro’kan is in bed with the seekers (not literally), led by a former warrior named Oako.
T’kon is alarmed, for damned good reason. Nolan quickly pieces together that these seekers directly serve the Nameless Ones, and he’s also pretty damned sure that those are the Gorthians. It can’t be coincidence that the seekers are growing in strength, after being a fringe caste for so long.
So where’s Fizgig in all this? She’s setting a big-ass trap for Takkar. She knows he’s coming, and has given Nolan a super-sneaky secret mission. Make sure that Takkar learns the location of the planet Atreas. Make sure he thinks that planet is the location of the Coalition naval shipyards.
Burke has rebuilt Alpha Company, and has a Team America-style training montage against Edwards in the planetstrider. We see them getting ready to brawl, and we know they’re ready. The Coalition fleets start arriving, all outfitted with Theta cannons.
Khar is summoned before the Empress, and is worried that she’ll have him interrogated. Instead, she claims not to care about some random, lone enemy warrior. She adopts Khar as a sort of pet, and allows him to observe her court. Khar gets to learn about the Ganog Imperium, and the Empress asks nothing in return.
Sounds like bullshit, huh? What’s her plan? Is she trying to secretly turn him? Not really. See, the Empress has much bigger problems. Utfa, the scary seeker guy, is growing in power. Zakanna knows that her days on the throne are numbered. She knows that Utfa is going to make a move.
Unsurprisingly, Utfa makes a move. Several moves, in fact. First, he ends repairs early on Takkar’s fleet. The dreadnoughts are still damaged, which both Takkar and Zakanna realize is a serious problem. It’s almost like Utfa wants Takkar to lose. But the Empress isn’t strong enough to stop Utfa, so she goes along with it. Her only concession is allowing a single one of her dreadnoughts to stay behind as a sort of honor guard.
Zakanna plans to use it to flee, if it comes to it. Spoilers—it will come to it.
Nolan and T’kon go to a party run by Ro’kan. Ro’kan ambushes them, and Nolan narrowly escapes. He’s forced to leave T’kon behind, but the squad gets away.
It’s okay, though, because that’s part of the plan. T’kon gets captured, they interrogate him for the location of Atreas, and then Nolan and the squad bust T’kon out. They deliver the payload, then escape. Beautiful, right?
Yeah, no. Sissus steals the ship, which is not part of the plan. Suddenly, Nolan has no way to rescue T’kon. He fights off the Azi, then reestablishes communication with Aluki and Lena, who are hiding inside one of the mechs. The Saurians haven’t found them yet.
Nolan and the squad track the ship, which has set down a few kilometers away thanks to a storm I cleverly (look out, Brandon Sanderson) planted earlier in the book. Nolan wants to capture Sissus, but Nuchik disobeys orders and pops his head like a grape. They retake the ship, but tensions are high.
Flash to T’kon, who’s being interrogated. Through the interrogation, the reader learns more about the seekers and how evil they are (like super evil). They bring in T’kon’s wife, and he finally, tearfully, reveals the secret he was there to plant.
Ro’kan agrees to allow T’kon to die with pride. The next day they’ll perform a ritual that looks suspiciously like Japanese Seppuku. At the last minute, Ro’kan says that, instead, they’re consigning T’kon’s soul to the Nameless Ones.
Nolan busts through the top of the spire in the cruiser, gunning down seekers. They extract T’kon and bug out. Nolan goes to Imperalis, in search of Khar. Earlier in the book, they’re watching a broadcast of a spire fight and see Khar on Imperalis (convenient, huh?).
A group of assassins attack the Empress, and Khar saves her life. Utfa is highly annoyed, but he’s finally contacted by a Nameless One, and that Nameless One (let’s call her Karen), offers him a solution. Karen explains that an army of super powerful guardians has been left in stasis on Imperalis, and that if Utfa can seize control of the beacon, he can control them.
What beacon, you ask? The beacon is a giant, glowing McGuffin, a Primo Core. It’s on top of a little island at the very top of the Royal Spire, and it is Zakanna’s family legacy. She puts her advisor, the super-badass Master Yulo, to watch over it.
Utfa rolls up to the beacon with a small army of seekers and warriors, and there’s a bunch of kung-fu fighting. Utfa’s side wins, and Yulo flees. He goes down to warn the Empress. It looks like they’re totally screwed, with no hope of survival.
Except, Nolan and his squad have been hanging out planning a rescue. They use their improved cloaking to sneak outside the spire, then punch a hole through the wall with a Theta cannon. I mean, it worked when they pulled out T’kon, so why not use it again?
It works, they rescue Khar, Zakanna, and Yulo, and they flee to Zakanna’s dreadnought. The dreadnought warps away, and they appear in the Atreas system.
Edwards and Alpha company are messing up the enemy planetstriders on the ground, while Fizgig is embarrassing Takkar’s fleet in space. She pops out of hiding, nukes a couple enemy ships, then re-cloaks. There isn’t much Takkar can do, except rage.
When the Empress appears, they call a sudden cease fire, and they compare notes.
Shit, says Fizgig.
Shit, says Takkar.
Shit, says Dryker.
I &*^%ing told you so, says Nolan. The god-damned Gorthians are back.
And we’re into the final book of the saga…