Working off of a piece of intelligence from the alien Hexosehr, the Vorpal Blade is dispatched to investigate rumors of an ancient and powerful civilization that may have been the creators of the “black box” that drives humanity’s only space ship. Any remnant technology would be nice but what the Blade finds is much more than they bargained for. Worse, the ship is infested by an alien species of scorpion-like arachnoids that has the potential to wipe out a world. Worst of all, instead of being Astrogator, Captain William Weaver is now the XO and he is not getting along with the new commander. And the new commander does not get along with Weaver, the ship’s female savant-linguist or most of the rest of the original crew. And what is that weird noise the ship makes every time it’s in hard maneuvers?
Leave it to the oddball geniuses of the Blade to sort it all out. And the Dreen are not going to like the answers.
I enjoyed reading this book and I did find it better than the two first books in the Looking Glass series but I have to say that I did indeed, after having read the third book in the series, have higher hopes for this one.
The book starts of well with the new Vorpal Blade II being made ready for a new mission. I’m so happy to get rid of this refurbished submarine crap. Naturally the ship ends up in one or two “situations” which require the marines to break out their “noise-makers” although these situations are much fewer and farther between than in the previous books.
Quite a lot of the book is spent in preparations and a fair amount of the book is spent on the tension between the new CO and the kind of new XO (our hero Weaver). Naturally the CO learns his mistakes in the end but the road there is sometimes a wee bit frustrating to read. I find it unlikely that a person so restricted in thought that he gets a fit at the mere thought of having a woman on board his ship would be deployed as CO to the first ever human starship. Especially in such a dire situation. That was just silly. The guy is just plain stupid at times.
The thing that drags the book down the most however is this silly “entertainment system” stuff that they find on the alien artefact in the second half of the book. I cannot be more specific without spoiling some of the plot but I did not enjoy that silly idea at all. I really wanted to scream when reading it.
Otherwise the book is well written as one would expect from John Ringo. The, sometimes, dry humour and action scenes are quite enjoyable and I liked the surprise addition to the human “fleet” at the end. Unfortunately it looks like this is a book series that John Ringo has abandoned and left hanging, pretty much in the middle of the main story arc, when there was much more to tell. The last book was published in 2008 so I guess it’s safe to say that no more are coming.