Spacer Buck Fryman emerges from the local lockup with a dream and a plan. He'll go into business himself, as a space freighter. He'll take the dangerous routes, sail fast without waiting for the convoys normally needed for pirate protection, and if a pirate does decide to take him on, he'll prove that he's not just a barroom brawler, he can defend himself in space as well.
A few years later, his fleet growing and his wealth enhanced by the many pirate ships he's captured, Buck is summoned before the emperor. While Buck's exploits have cut into some local piracy, the pirates are increasingly organized and effective. The emperor wants Buck to take charge of the anti-piracy efforts and even Buck doesn't dare say no to the emperor.
Handling the occasional pirate raid is one thing. Going after the source of the piracy is something else. Even with the empire's navy backing him up, Buck finds his hands full with Jarred Mahoney, former imperial intelligence minister and former leader of two worlds determined to use the pirates as his wedge to overthrow the empire and make himself emperor. Mahoney will stop at nothing, from loosing pirates on innocent freighters to bringing aliens back into conflict with humanity for the first time since the days of Contact.
Author Kenneth E. Ingle continues his exploration of the Contact universe with an exciting space adventure. Buck Fryman is a larger-than-life hero, applying his combination of finesse and brute force against a universe where he seems always outnumbered but never outsmarted.
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Decent, But Fractured, Rushed, and Dicey Narration
- Striker "If it weren't for physics, law enforcement, and my medication, I'd be unstoppable!"
If it weren't for the narration!!!
The only other reviewer (to this point) appeared to comment primarily on chapter transitions and the narrator; being overly harsh in their criticism and doing a significant disservice to the author. Many of the points made in that review were valid - though nowhere near "earth shattering" - and it bothered me greatly that the review contained nothing about the novel itself, author's universe construction and the story.
Yes, several segues between chapters did seem somewhat rushed. On the one hand those chapters could be viewed as "stories within a story" and contributing to the whole. On the other hand, a few of those rather abrupt transitions simply jumped over intervening years - I can forgive that sort of quick shift much easier than a contrived shipboard story or subplot that started and went nowhere. I am certainly not saying the author made the best of choices in smoothing over those transitions but it was better than trudging through pages of fluff 'n stuff.
Ok, done disparaging the previous reviewer. :-)
A VERY big positive from my perspective: there were NO descriptions of sex.. There was one (and as I recall only one) "intimate" scene which was handled delicately and without describing the act itself. Throughout the novel there was no bed hopping or gratuitous sex used as a plot mechanism.
On the critical side, I frequently found myself wishing for more (or better) character development. At least the characters' personalities, once fleshed out, remained consistent, interpersonal relationships, social and familial development progressed predictably (with respect to the passage of time).
Another positive: the science and technology were eminently believable. Ships could exceed the speed of light, but the rest of Einstein's universe and laws seemed to still be in effect. Ships had to plod along until superluminal generators (or whatever they were) were engaged, combat was fought at sub-light speeds with understandable weapons. inertia could be dampened but not avoided, etc.
The previous reviewer did get one thing right: the narrator left a great deal to be desired. Personally, I thought the book, plot, action and characters made the narration bearable, but only just. Even when totally "into" the book I found myself drawn back out of the novel because of abominable pronunciation, inflection and/or emphasis.
All in all, I think the narrator took too much away from an otherwise decent novel to give it a better overall rating. I would recommend the the audible version only when nothing else was available and even then with a caveat about the narrator. Otherwise, I could only consider recommending the paperback or kindle versions.