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The Phobos Maneuver (Sol System Renegades): The Solarian War Trilogy, Book 2 Kindle Edition
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In his fifth installment of his popular Solarian War Saga, author Felix Savage brings together a host of his most popular characters. Although working separately, their goal is the same: bring the fight to the PLAN in its own back yard – and the rules be damned.
The PLAN, you may recall, is a rogue AI that has taken over Mars, attacking humanity at will with advanced tech. Savage is especially skilled at inventing new ways to combat this menace.
The jacket promises "complex characters, explosive action, and exhilarating suspense." And, like the other books in the series, delivers in full measure.
The only thing this book doesn't do is to let you catch your breath.
--- Joe Dacy II (Author of Esquelle and the Tesla Protocol)
In the previous books in this series we have read about the challenges of successful human colonization of the Moon, Mars, and Mercury. Things were going pretty good until an enemy suddenly attacked and took over Mars. They refused to communicate with anyone and their goal seems to be total annihilation of humanity. Since all their attacks seem to be on places far from Earth the various government entities were not that concerned about confronting what they called “The PLAN”. Their focus was on protecting Earth and its sources for supplies needed for manufacturing and maintaining the status quo. But now Earth cities have been hit and those in power are getting nervous. They won’t admit it, but they fear there is nothing that can stop the PLAN. War has been declared against the PLAN.
Phobos is a rocky satellite (moon) around Mars. The PLAN has made it into a base for their attack ships and for launching asteroids which can destroy an entire Earth city in a matter of seconds. Several different groups (The UN, Star Force, former human inhabitants of Mars who lost their homes, as well as concerned citizens) have come to the conclusion that Phobos is the place to start the fight against the PLAN’s base on Mars. If one of them doesn’t succeed it will be the end of mankind. Each group thinks they have the best solution but will lie and cover-up to keep their own plans secret since no one can be sure how the PLAN always seems to be a step ahead of the humans.
The story begins with several friends we have met in previous books. They are spread from Earth to the asteroids. When the centralized government on Earth declares war on the PLAN they all have their own reasons for responding (or not) to the call. Alicia Petruzzelli is piloting a garbage hauler and this might be her chance to be a real Star Force pilot; Kioyshi Yonezawa and his brother, Jun, have an idea they have been working on that they think could destroy the PLAN; and Star Force members such as Elfrida Goto are sworn to secrecy about the part they will play in the planned Star Force attack. “Frida” becomes part of the story about 40% into the book and that is when the action really takes off.
Will they be able to attack and take over Phobos or will they die before they even get there? How many Star Force soldiers will survive a landing on Mars if they can even get through the PLAN’s extensive defenses on Phobos? Will the different groups of government, military, and colonists kill each other before they can destroy the enemy? Who is lying about what? And, whose plan will be the successful one? Each group has an understanding of part of the puzzle but since they selfishly guard their own secrets how can anyone conquer what they don’t understand? Thank goodness several of the groups trust Frida enough that she and her friends can work together to bring a winning conclusion to the story. The story has enough complexity so that there are always a few questions left unanswered so they can be dealt with in the next book. I can hardly wait. (Did Mikey really die? I really liked him and he was too good a character to “waste” so I think he will return. But I could be wrong…)
Pros: 1. The author does an incredible job of world building. He includes details to make you believe these strange places (and some strange people) are really possible.
2. Fieda’s friends are great. They work together really well even though they don’t always agree with each other.
3. One group of friends are very religious and often rely of faith without getting at all preachy. And one of them isn’t even human anymore. Non-religious readers shouldn’t be bothered by this as it shows the motivation for their actions. (But I like it.)
4. Each book has a satisfying ending so they can be read alone but I think most people would enjoy reading them in order.
5. Sometimes a series of more than a couple books become boring because there was never enough plot to keep more than one or two books interesting and they start repeating themselves. But each of the books in this series has been different enough to make enjoyable reading. The story line continues and each book adds more information to fill in the back story.
6. A little romance but no overt sex. Very little rough language and it fits into the story. Lots of violence and gore because the PLAN is ruthless.
7. Very well edited, no grammatical errors I found.
Cons: 1. This is both a pro and a con. The author includes a lot of technical details about how things work in space. It reminds me of the details in some of Tom Clancy’s books about how war machines/weapons operate. It is a little too much information for me, but if the reader is at all a little geeky I bet they love it. Sometimes I feel like I understand what is going on, but I generally prefer characterization over mechanics and let the mechanical details go in one ear and out the other; or should that be “go in one eye and out the other”—sounds kind of gross ;)
2. The action didn’t really pick up until near the second half of the book, but it wouldn’t have made any sense without the first half so don’t give up if you think it starts a little slow. It will all come together as the story continues.
Disclosure: I received an ARC copy of the book for an honest review Thanks Mr. Savage.
I have waited rather impatiently for this latest entry in the "Solarian War" saga and I was not disappointed! WHile this book can be read on it's own, I *highly* encourage you to get the others in the series as well. Knowing some of the background just makes the story all that much to the better! The pacing is rapid yet steady and his compelling writing style makes it hard to put the book down! The characters are richly portrayed and varied and the near future universe is satisfyingly realistic. Felix Savage has obviously taken the time to integrate the sciences in many fields without making it overbearing. It supports the story with realism and gives the whole thing that "plausibility" factor while still being highly entertaining.
I am not usually one to do comparison to other science fiction legends but with the great (and improving) stories coming from this maestro's pen, I would not be surprised to see Felix Savage taking his place in their august company. You can see the growth and refinement with every story and I can't wait to see what comes next!