This series had me hooked from start to finish. This is one of my favorite SciFi series indie published or not. I should note that I was so into the first book after only 20% or so that I immediately purchased the other two without regret. Also, this review was written for the omnibus addition Gabriel's Journey. It applies whether you buy the books separately or together in one volume.
I am no reviewer and hate spoilers, so I will just list the qualities that had me so riveted to this story all the way through.
1. The author clearly knows his craft. The quality of writing and inventiveness of the plot never wavered. Descriptions were clear without rambling endlessly and the action scenes put me right in the thick of it. In other words, suspension of disbelief and ease of visualization were, for me at least, effortless. I also really liked the characters but was grateful that I did not have to sit through endless character introspection and angst. Life provides enough of that as it is. Unexpected twists were also done well.
2. I found the science to be very interesting and believable (albeit fictional). I enjoyed it's role in the story throughout the series. No Star Trek "science" here. From maneuvering a ship in space to advanced weaponry, I was never jarred out of the story with nonsensical pseudo science.
3. This is military science fiction and while I am not a soldier (was in the sixties however), I was impressed with the tactical descriptions of special ops warfare. The main characters are very competent soldiers indeed without being super heroes who are immortal, invincible and invulnerable all at once (as in so many other books). They make mistakes and pay for them like the rest of us.
4. Finally, the editing. In my large format copy of Dune (an all time favorite novel by Frank Herbert), I found over 15 errors. In the Gabriel Trilogy I found less than five (two of those debatable). Great editing for no matter the publishing method. Kudos to Steve Umstead who has not only provided us with an excellent series, but cares enough about his readers to get it right. Thank You!
A bit of proselytizing before I close this:
In the last decade or more I've noticed that professional publishing has gone down hill quite a bit. Typos, grammatical errors and spelling have suffered as the publishing houses race to greater profits at less cost. I bring this up because Indie publishers have taken a big hit (deservedly so in many cases) for editing errors while the publishing houses have been allowed to skate. I am a very big fan of Indie publishing and have been noticing a marked improvement as time has gone on. Both in quality of writing and quality of editing. While there is plenty of bad stuff in both publishing worlds, I believe Indie publishing is coming into it's own. With the outright price gouging that the big publishers are resorting to and the lack of quality and availability of their work (try to find a complete SciFi or fantasy trilogy at B&N) it is my hope that Indie authors and E-books will become the new normal. I think the big publishers are shooting themselves in the foot with their mercenary practices. Time will tell.