New contact!” Lieutenant Kasparov announced from the Sensors Station. “Infrared and mass detection, bearing three-five-seven mark zero-six-eight. Designating as Hotel eleven. Classified as definite hostile. No effort at stealth.” Then, under his breath, he added, “Arrogant bastards.”
“Very well.” Lieutenant Commander Max Robichaux, Union Space Navy, Captain of the Khyber class destroyer USS Cumberland, acknowledged the contact report but let the comment pass, not because it was appropriate–which it was not–but because he heartily concurred. Judging by the quiet murmurs of agreement from the dozens of men at their General Quarters stations in the Cumberland’s Combat Information Center, he wasn’t the only one.
The destroyer’s Executive Officer, Lieutenant Eduardo DeCosta, leaned toward Max and said in a low voice, “No stealth. Looks like disdain. We’re not a threat to them, so they don’t need to waste effort making themselves hard to detect.”
Max shook his head and answered at the same volume—his voice would not carry beyond the Command Island, the platform in the center of CIC where the Commander’s and Executive Officer’s Stations, as well as an additional console known as the Commodore’s Station, were located. “That’s not it, XO. Krag disdain for us ‘blaspheming monkeys’ is a given. Their goal is intimidation. They want to make sure we know they’re here and how many of them are hunting us. They want us cowed. Too scared to think. Believing we’re already dead so we’ll stop fighting to survive.” [Book 3 – Brothers in Valour]
The series follows the adventures of Max Robichaux, captain of a war spaceship engaged in the war with an alien empire, some 300 years in the future.
There are three books in the series: To Honor You Call Us, For Honor We Stand and Brothers in Valour. Interestingly, the first two were self-published (this means there was no publishing house behind them) and enjoyed an immense success.
The series are classical in the sense of story building. Captain Robichaux gradually earns his success and military victories, while training and giving confidence to his destroyer’s crew. On his side, there is his best friend, Dr Sahin, and a reliable council of advisers. The victories follow one after the other, but not without losses. The focus is on the hero and his crew, less on the ship itself.
There are writers who like to introduce convoluted psychological plots and mind games. However, the author, Paul Honsinger, likes his story clean; the focus is on the fight itself, on the universe around it and on the crew. This makes the story easy to follow and engaging.
There is no hard scifi in those books, but the plot is imaginative, with nice twists. Also, every decision from the universe (such as why no women on board) is given a credible explanation (a genophage virus sent by aliens to kill human females, due to the low reproductive rate of human species in comparison with aliens).
The battles are very creative and well described. The evolution of the hero and the crew is impressive. The captain is just an ordinary guy (not a prince or the son of a general), with a lot more grit, common sense and willingness to win that others. This type of character makes the reader to identify him/herself with the hero and follow his decisions.
I loved the series, it was easy to read. It was not a big, convoluted plot where you have to make notes in order to remember what is happening. One of the most relaxing reads of military scifi.