Space operas are one of my favorite reads. Throw in a nifty hero or heroine and some bad guys to whip and my interest goes up a level. H. Paul Honsinger does a really good job with this debut novel, which is the first installment in his Man of War series. Based on the rather awkward title and the not so original name of the series, I wasn’t expecting too much, but this novel has most of what I want in a novel in this genre.
Our hero, Max Robichaux, has the “right stuff” to be successful. While Honsinger is no David Weber, nor is Robichaux a match for Honor Harrington, this novel reminds me of the best of Weber, and is vastly better than Weber when he is at his verbose worst. The trivia of this universe is explained in such a manner than most science fiction readers will understand, and those who don’t have some grasp of sci-fi probably won’t be interested anyway.
The best space operas have nasty villains, and the rodent evolved Krags are really nasty. Robichaux is killing them as the story opens, and there are no Star Trek Roddenberryesque moments wherein the audience sees the villains as worthy of sympathy. Nope. These rats stay rats.
Supporting and minor characters enjoy far more development than in some space operas, and I especially liked the doctor, who begins as a bit of comic relief, but grows into his role as a major player on board the star destroyer Cumberland. The episodic story works well, as Honsinger gives his cast of characters plenty to do as they journey through space, and there is sufficient suspense to keep the reader swiping the pages. Fans of military fiction and space yarns should really enjoy this novel.
I didn’t actually pay for this novel, as it is part of the “free” reading available to Amazon Prime, but it is fairly priced at $4.99 as of this post.