I have now read the first 7 of the 14 books in this series. The best ones are the odd numbered stand alone novels. As with many prolific authors there are some quirks to is writing that get irritating if you read the books back to back as I have done over the last four days. So, try not to do that. The story of an empire's fall is an old one in SF but powerful. There is a lot to mine in dialogue with other SF novels and Mr. Nuttall attempts to do that. Sometimes successfully sometimes less so but always at least interesting. Where the author fails rather spectacularly is in his chapter headers. They are all excerpts from various books written before, during and after the empire's fall. The early ones work well enough but by book 6 they were awful. Undermining key points in his built universe. Serving, so far as I can see, as nothing more than a stage for the author to prognosticate to the reader. Once I made the choice to skip them entirely the books got much better.
This is one of the most haunting and disturbingly truthful accounts of a possible end of the world that I have ever read. It is not the end of humanity, because by this time we will have spread across many thousands of other worlds, but the collapse of Earth and the Empire seems entirely believable, almost like a historical novel in some aspects. The characters are utterly believable in the depth of their strengths and flaws, their incredible ignorance (and very rarely, wisdom), and the ending leaves the reader wondering if, in the end, the struggles in the book are really worth it. I personally believe that they were, but I urge you all to read it and come to your own understanding.
Another reviewer on Goodreads wrote: “Christopher Nuttall’s writing is still as solid in this book as the previous two, so it pains me to only give it 3 stars…”. I share the same sentiment. If I were a 100% objective and professional reviewer I would (should) give this book a higher rating but I am not a professional reviewer and my ratings do reflect my personal feelings about every book I review. I have to say that I, after reading the blurb and some of the reviews, was somewhat prepared not to enjoy this book as much as the other books from Mr. Nuttall.
As was written above, the writing is as solid as one would expect from Mr. Nuttall. However this book is somewhat of a detour from the story that started in The Empire’s Corps. Sure, it is in the same universe and describes an important part of the events that unfolds in that universe but it is not at all about Captain Stalker and his marines on Avalon. The main character, which I really liked by the way, is indeed a marine but that is about as much marines that we get in this book. I rarely like when a series makes us get to know a set of main characters and them jumps completely away from them like this.
The book is also very very depressing. As can be deduced from the book blurb this book is about the downfall of The Empire and it is not pretty. The book revolves a lot around political machinations, gross mismanagement and manipulation of stupid mobs of people. I found it very depressing and there are really not any glimpses of light in the story, not even the end. It is downhill all the way.
The book itself is actually very good, well written as always when Mr. Nuttall stands for the writing, but my enjoyment of the book is muted by these two facts that I mentioned above. As I wrote, the book describes important events in the universe of The Empire’s Corps and although one could probably sidestep this book and go straight to book number four in the series if one only wanted to continue the story of the marines stranded on Avalon I do not think that I would have wanted to miss this book, even though I struggled a bit with it.
While some of his early works were uneven, I've come to really like both Nuttall's "Ark Royal" series, and his Imperial Marine Corps series.
This book is a semi-standalone, starting at the same point in time as the first book of the series, but (excepting the prologue) staying on earth with events there.
Our heroine - wracked with survivor's guilt from losing the rest of her elite recon team - is tasked to operate alone, and with little to no support, as a bodyguard for the crown prince and emperor - to - be. Forces about them conspire to use the prince as a puppet to foster their own grabs for power, and earth continues to sink further into turmoil as it reaches it's final implosion. Her project, short of keeping him alive, is to maybe get him to grow up to be something other than a spoiled brat and puppet.
The book is not kind to bread and circuses, nor the dependencies that creates.
Like much of the rest of the series, the beginning of each chapter is a paragraph or two on the fall of earth, told post-mortem, written by the history professor sent off earth in the first book. This bit of "tell - don't show" is restrained, and like an establishing shot in a movie or TV show, helps firmly place the following chapter with a minimum of words in the proper time and locale.
The style is straightforward, but still effectively paints the environment around the characters, and who they are.