I must confess that I read Battle Cruiser some time ago and it’s been sitting here waiting to be reviewed for weeks, over a month, to my embarrassment, so that I’ve pretty much forgotten everything I intended to say about it. However, I can write some impressions I still remember.
I really enjoyed this book. It wasn’t the best book or the best sci fi or even the best military sci fi I’ve read. There were holes and gaps. The writing was uneven and average at best. Aside from two or three main characters, you don’t really get to know most of the characters at all. The technology isn’t fully explained or detailed.
Nonetheless, it’s a fun, well told, action packed, intriguing, tension filled, action/adventure military sci fi story that is good enough to get your attention and hold it the whole way through and that’s good enough for me to enjoy it. In fact, it’s the first book in a three book series and now I want to read the next two books!
It’s about one Lieutenant Commander William Sparhawk and his Star Guard pinnace, Cutlass, of Earth’s fleet, which has been cut back by politicians like his father. Something happens or is seen out near Jupiter and Sparhawk is sent out to investigate and he finds what appears, at first, to be an asteroid, but upon further investigation, is actually a large alien ship. He reports to his superior, is told to stay right there, starts unloading his crew onto the alien ship in the hope of getting in, in part because he has a bad feeling about some things, and next thing you know, his superior appears, firing on his ship. He and his crew disappear into the alien ship, where they attempt to escape and are chased by the other Earthmen, but they repel their pursuers, and discover several interesting things. For one thing, there are thousands of tubes in the ship, all containing … embryos. So this was a ship carrying freight of some sort at some point, somewhere. They also discover a prison ward with a live prisoner, a giant humanoid named Zye who talks them into letting her out. She’s been in prison because she was individualistic and not to be trusted. She’s from one of Earth’s old colony planets, established hundreds of years ago, but cut off long since. Since then, Earth has lost the ability to continue developing its space technology, while these colonists have become technical geniuses, building super ships and traveling through the stars, encountering other former colonists and aliens. Zye turns out to be a pivotal figure in this book and possibly my favorite character. She also turns out to be Sparhawk’s most loyal crew member, for that is what she becomes. She becomes that, in part, because she is the only one who can figure out how to drive and operate this giant ship and how to arm and fire the weapons. Sparhawk takes the ship home to Earth, thinking what a fantastic prize it will make to their puny fleet now that they know they’re not alone and they’ll need to build up their fleet, only to be greeted with threats and ship and missile attacks! He also is attacked by asteroid miners.
The plot continues to get convoluted, but not so much that you can’t follow it. Earth’s government is a little too stupid and paranoid and hateful of someone who is seemingly a war hero to appear entirely believable, and I think that’s a weakness of the book. It’s almost a caricature. Ultimately, though, the newly named Defiant is accepted by the Earth government and sent back out with Sparhawk as captain and Zye as critical crew member, along with other former crew members, to face an unlikely huge asteroid miner fleet who are actually aliens in disguise. It’s a monstrous battle and almost too much to believe.
To me, this is a three star book that is so entertaining and so much fun and so reasonably original, that I’m upgrading the rating by one star (which I never do) to give it four stars. Normally, I downgrade by a star. Four stars and recommended if you want to enjoy a fun military sci fi novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously.