Crusade by David Weber
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Crusade, written in 1992, years before the Honor and Safehold series’, is David Weber doing what Weber does best. There are tons of excellent space battles which, after all, is his very best skill and talent. There are religious zealots, in this case, human-related aliens, led by bishop and archbishop generals who, as in the Safehold series, are sadistic, genocidal nutjobs. Why Weber decided at some point in his life that bishops and religious leaders would make good and believable generals is beyond me, but after reflection, I guess they don’t because after their initial victories and genocides, they usually seem to get their asses kicked by the “good” guys, so let that be a lesson to you, bad religious guys!
Also, there are “bad” politicians in the book, getting in the way of the military, not letting it do its job, trying to draw it down, get their own glory, fight their own stupid personal battles, generally be idiots, until the patriotic military dude wins the day and lets the military make its own tactical battle decisions, etc., and then and only then does the military start to win. Obviously, religious nuts and politicians are evil.
Oh yes, the Orions are the “good” aliens. The Thebans, the “bad” aliens/former Terrans, escaped the original Terran/Orion war a century or so ago through a wormhole no one has ever come out of and apparently thinks the Orions are still evil and humankind is still at war with them, thus when the Thebes appear out of said wormhole 100 years later, they fire on an Orion ship and the war begins. Of course, they are there to return mankind to Holy Terra’s original state, or what they think it should be according to their “holy” works as written by some freak a long time ago. Since the Terrans are now allied with the Orions, they are now polluted by the Satan Orions and must be eliminated, so off to the concentration camps with them and let’s execute as many as possible. Of course, there are resistance groups, and since they’re “good” Terrans, they’re smart and they outsmart the Thebes and, as is often the case with Weber, one of the high ranking Thebans, in this case the leading admiral, begins to have doubts about their mission and even their origin, as well as their treatment of the prisoners, so he defects to the Terran side, and with his help, the Terrans carry the battle to Thebes and all is well with the universe. Yay rah. No seriously, good book. Great battles, as always with Weber. I am reading a Jack Campbell series (The Lost Fleet) right now and while it’s okay, and while the space battles have great cover blurbs (of course), they can’t even compare at all with Weber. No one can. He’s simply the best. Of course, he has annoying habits that just get worse with each book he publishes: the number of characters, their stupid names and titles, the infodumps, etc. But he can do a battle like no other.
This book is part of an old series. I know this because I’ve read another Terran/Orion book. I don’t know the name of the series though and it’s not listed anywhere in the book where I can find it. I’d be interested in reading more, even though it’s old and not as good as his later series’, simply because these books are very action packed and tension filled and good indicators of his books to come. He even uses names we’ll see in future series’, like Manticore, Saint-Just, etc. I’d love to give this book five stars and I’m tempted to. I’m not sure I shouldn’t. But I’ve read too many five star books by Weber and I’m not sure this is on par with those numerous five star books. This is close, but not quite as good. Or is it? It’s a tough call. You know what? It was a really good book with a lot of drama, a lot of great action, a lot of tension, a lot of suspense, some really great battles. I see no reason not to give it five stars, so I guess I will after all. I can’t justify not giving it five stars. So five it is and recommended. And yes, the book stands on its own. Read it.