Shield Captain Bennet arrives on the Gyrfalcon to take up his final year’s posting before returning to the Shield Regiment after his rotation out.
On Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?
It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan…
Once again I’m blown away by Ms. Butler and the vast world she created. I get lost in Albion and aboard the Gyrfalcon and completely immersed in the people, conflict and the entire story. I was captured from the first page and couldn’t put the book down until I was done.
The politics and games that get played throughout the series, and this book in particular, was ramping up and coming to a head. I truly enjoyed seeing the twists and turns Ms. Butler includes as I read. I know I’m going to realize there are more hints when I read the next book. But the way she has everything woven together to create this massive web never ceases to impress me. All of the minute details of how things are connected and effect each other is such a joy to read.
All of the characters grow in this book. Bennet and Flynn especially, however you can see it in Caeden as well. Bennet is faces with some hard realities from more than one front in this book and he tackles them each as they come but in slightly different manners. Flynn grows into himself far more in this book and gains confidence in his wants and needs being valid. Caeden learns to let go some but manages to do it while still holding tight in a way that is so typically Caeden. I enjoy the scenes from Caeden’s point of view more with each book. They make for a fascinating counterpoint to some of the assumptions Bennet has about him. In Gyrfalcon I kind of didn’t like Caeden. But he has slowly grown on me and I love how he and Bennet are working to have a better relationship after so long of constant fights. My favorite is when Caeden explains exactly what happened from his point of view all those years ago with Joss.
Bennet and Flynn needed the time together where nothing physical can happen. They get to know each other better and learn their motivations. They’re also figuring out how they fit together outside of the very easy sexual side of things. Their ups and downs throughout the story had my heart beating hard and me on the edge of my seat. They’re wonderful together but also manage to ignite each other often enough you idly wonder if they like each other enough to love each other. Clearly they do, but they still have obstacles in their path keeping them from that happily ever after. They’re far closer than they were at the end of Makepeace/beginning of this book, however you can see what’s still left ahead.
I feel like I need to talk about That “Colony” and what was happening there. But I absolutely do not want to spoil that because the emotions brought out in those scenes were strong. My predictions there are still surprises in store and there are larger ramifications that will blow up in spectacular ways in the next book. I will say the dilemma that gets raised out of it, before everything happens at the end, were wonderfully threaded throughout the book and weighed rationally and logically in the context of the story.
I cannot wait for the next book. I love each of the books in this series and always get excited to find out what happens next. So far many of my predictions have been spot on in the series. Others I was way off the mark on. I adore the journey we’re still embarking on and eagerly wait to go further once book five is out.
Four and a half
More Hornets were out of the tubes, racing to catch up; almost everyone, now. Bennet had the Patroklus squadron on visual, little points of light on his left, speeding towards him. He held the Starboard and Port wings in position, waiting for Patroklus to join him, listening to the continuous stream of inter-ship Comms that gave him the intel he needed on everyone’s position. Captain Sergei reported he was in position.
“Heads up, boys and girls,” Bennet said over the command line. “Bandits will be here in two minutes. Battlecode comm transmissions only.”
All chatter stopped. Everything around him fell silent. It took him a second to realise that the dull muffled thumping that he felt as much as heard, was his own quickening heartbeat. His eyes never stopped moving—to port, ahead, the scanner, to port, ahead, to starboard, ahead, the scanner, ahead, to port…
His gaze flickered to port-side most. His pilots were out there, tackling the outriders to the first wave of fighters. Nothing much to see. The fighters were drones, with no internal atmospheres to give even the briefest flash of light and heat when they were destroyed. If he saw a flash, it would be one of their own.
Port, ahead, the scanner, port, ahead, starboard…
“All advance bandits accounted for,” Kyle said. “No survivors.”
“None. Clean strike.”
“Good. Stand by.” Look to port, ahead, the scanner, ahead, to starboard, ahead, the scanner, ahead… “Kyle, you have their left flank. Sergei, their right. Starboard Wing, we’re punching right through these guys to take on the second wave.”
“Yes!” The excitement in Kyle’s voice was unmistakable.
“Ready.” Sergei was more subdued.
“We’re ready,” Cruz said, steady as ever. “We’re all ready.”
Bennet took a split-second to watch them get into position, the usual cold clenching around his guts, knowing they wouldn’t all come back. He had the fighters on visual now, a close-packed phalanx of ships, blotting out stars. There had to be more than a hundred of them, with a second wave of at least another hundred, maybe more, behind. A full complement of a battleship’s fighters all stacked up against the little Hornets.
Bennet opened his private comline to the Gyrfalcon. “Ten seconds, bridge. We’re going in.” He only half-heard Quist’s acknowledgement. He’d already keyed into the battle code comline. A deep breath. “All Attack Wings, intercept attackers and engage the enemy. Go!”
Five seconds later the front ranks of Hornets and fighters smacked right into each other.
Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo.
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