Both off-world races work to pit the two factions against each other in an effort to divert attention from the main goal of securing the Communication Facility and its secret equipment. But Santana doesn’t know that there is already an armored battalion waiting on his men and cyborgs on this planet – as well as a deserter from his company that has co-opted a cyborg of his own.
Appraisal Many authors lose themselves in the epic of war when writing about battles between two opposing forces in the Science Fiction universe. However, Dietz did an outstanding job in keeping the story well within Science Fiction boundaries where the reader gets whisked away to far-away worlds and galaxies. The pace of the story is smooth and well executed, with realistic character development and back stories. Taking the romance between two of the primary characters through a gradual process was profound, yet disturbing when the author left them split up at the end without any reasoning for it.
Human consciousness, contained in a neural box, and then plugged into cyborgs – called forms inside the story – makes the use of cyborgs seem quite natural, though a bit daunting at times for the newer reader of this type of storyline. Overall, this novel should really be read to be fully appreciated. Even though this is not the first in the Legion of the Damned series of novels, it stands alone quite well.
Pros The action was well-planned and even, moving at a pace easy to follow, and there was no jumping around between scenes to get the reader lost. The romantic interest of Santana’s, on the planet from among the surviving colonists, was captured in a very light manner, yet wasn’t overshadowing the primary theme of the story which was the capture of the equipment. The use of cyborgs was done very creatively, and the ability to move the ‘brain’ of a cyborg from one to another was unique. The author made the entire thought of cyborgs to be both believable and possible, with just enough science tossed in to make them plausible.
Cons At the end of the novel, the author chose to have the heroine, who was also Santana’s romantic interest, not go with Santana when his men left the planet. No explanation was given, and it left you wondering, “Why?”. On a planet full of Ramanthians, on the border of their territory, why would the Ramanthians allow the humans to continue living on the same planet as their research outpost? Especially considering that the humans are their mortal enemies. When the Sheen fleet was captured, and the Confederacy added them to their fleet, there does not seem to be a reasonable explanation or description of whether or not they were even being used. It seems as though the fleet was just captured and mothballed for some purpose leaving the Confederates outgunned and outnumbered.