Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Citadel by John Ringo

Citadel: Troy Rising IICitadel is the second book in Ringo's Troy Rising series, and in a way it breaks the mold set in the first. Most of Live Free or Die takes place from the point of view of Tyler Vernon, the man who successfully opens up trade with the Glatun and organizes the Earth resistance to the Horvath. Now, Ringo introduces a couple of new characters so that we can get a better perspective of what's going on with the man-made planetoid, Troy, as construction on a war time footing predominates this book.

The Horvath were smacked around pretty hard at the end of LFoD, and are most likely off licking their wounds somewhere, but the Rangora empire which gave the Horvath most of the fleet that Troy wiped out have decided that the Terrans must be dealt with sooner than later, so their punitive fleet, more modern and powerful than the Horvath's, is on the way. Ringo also introduces a couple of characters on the Rangora side of things, so that we can see what their high command is thinking, as each of a series of space battles falls into place.

On the military side of things, we get Engineering Apprentice Dana Parker, a bright young woman who is part of the space navy. Fresh out of the academy, she experiences a crash course (sometimes literally) in maintaining and repairing the space vehicles used by the fleet, and as a coxswain, or pilot. On the civilian side, there's Butch Allen, a member of a poor family with fourteen children, who takes the opportunity to go to Troy as an apprentice welder. He survives the hazing rituals of the existing crew and the rigors of training and working in microgravity and hard vacuum, to become an integral part of the construction and later salvage operations as succeeding fleets sent by the Rangora are reduced to their component pieces and used by the Earth fleet for their needs.

The Rangoran characters are possibly the best of a bad lot. Most of the high command consistently underestimate the fighting ability and technological level of Earth, but Major To'Jopeviq and his political officer, Lieutenant Jith Beor, are prone to a more realistic assessment of the odds. This puts them at odds with most of their colleagues and superiors, but in the end they are justified in a Pyrrhic fashion.

Most hard science fiction and military buffs will probably really enjoy this novel, as it explores the possibilities of applying new technology to an old endeavor. I know I did. Waiting eagerly for Troy Rising III.

No comments: