The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack


Fierce Girls at War

Fierce Girls at War by Mike Adams

Book 1: Fierce Girls

When Sergeant Molly Bennett kills two of the sons of world famous terrorist, Hassan Gul, she pokes a hornets’ nest. When she and Lieutenant Rick O’Brien kill Gul, himself, and two more of his son’s, the hornets’ nest bursts open and all hell breaks loose. This is the backdrop to Mike Adam’s exciting new novel, Fierce Girls, and the foundation of a whole new series with the same name as Molly and Rick have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

The action in this book is intense, develops quickly and plausibly, but not necessarily in a predictable fashion. That’s good obviously! I learned quickly I could never be certain what Adams had in store on the next page. The other highlight of the novel is the large cast of fiercely independent and deadly capable characters. O’Brien’s large family (mother, sisters, daughter) often steals the show from the two technical heroes—but that’s a good thing because I have no doubt that these women will be taking center stage as the series develops.

In summation, the future is a mixed bag in Mike Adams’ 22nd century universe. On the one hand, technology is becoming truly amazing, faster-than-light travel has been developed and humanity is colonizing a planet orbiting another star. But on the other hand, the threat of terrorism is worse than ever and much of it is directed at stopping the colonizing of that new world. This well-thought-out mix produces plenty of problems which provides loads of excitement in this novel and promises even more in the books to come.

Book 2: Threat on the Horizon

The tension in this novel starts with page one and never lets up. Aliens have discovered the colony of New Hope and they are not happy to find humans invading their space. As a result, this whole book happens under the threat of alien attack made much more frightening because the colonists are not yet aware of their danger. So every decision the colonists make has the reader wondering what unexpected trouble it will cause them to encounter. It’s an incredibly successful strategy for forcing the reader to ignore everything else they’d planned to do today so that they can squeeze in a few more chapters of the novel.

While most of the action happens on New Hope, Adams has not forgotten the portions of his growing cast of characters who are still on earth. He also offers a substantial and much appreciated look at life on the interstellar transport—scenes which reminded me of many of my favorite Robert A. Heinlein novels. Most of these characters are strong, capable and potentially heroic men and women, but he also has a gift for creating the sexist, barely competent, politically appointed, superior officer that is so much fun to hate. My only concern about this series is the fear that Adams has only created such a large cast of beloved heroes so that he can pull a Walking Dead or a Game of Thrones on us and kill a heck of a lot of them off in the books to come. Guess I’ll have to jump into Book 3 to find out if my fears are right.

Book 3: Opening Shots

Adams takes his time in laying out the final groundwork leading up to the alien invasion of the New Hope colony. He gives the invaders an interesting mix of high tech and low tech weapons—justified by the primitive mercenaries that the star-faring invaders have hired as their front line forces. This serves the useful purpose of giving our heroes a chance, even though the vast number of enemies—not to mention their impressive martial skills—severely stacks the odds against them. Twin strengths of Adams’ account are the credible military response to the threat and the inability of civilians to simply follow the evacuation plans. He also creates an important subplot as our two principle heroes are shot down by the aliens in a shuttle containing fifty high school students. Not only do Rick and Molly have knowledge critical to the defense of the colonies which they can no longer share, but they are going to have to figure out how to keep all of these students alive in very hostile territory. So get ready to duck and cover, as you read the Opening Shots of the war for New Hope.

Book 4: First Contact

The action really heats up in this fourth volume of the Fierce Girls series. The aliens are advancing and the Rangers are scrambling to slow them down long enough to let them evacuate huge sections of the human population from the warzone. Adams is great at showing how confusing the situation is—especially since the aliens took out the communications satellites. All those characters he’s been slowly introducing over the last three books are getting their moments in the spotlight and it looks quite probable that most of them are not going to survive.

While all of this is happening, the two people I think of as Adam’s principle heroes (Rick Cassidy and Molly Pitchford) have to figure out how to save the lives of 50 high school girls and a little more than a dozen adults who have crashed with their shuttle a thousand miles deep in hostile wilderness. This second storyline is genius, because it lets Adams develop two very different types of adventure stories. The first half of the book is all military problems, but this second half is in many ways far more concerning. I think any of us can imagine what it would be like to be trapped in the middle of the Amazon with a bunch of high school kids. Even well-trained men and women would have a hard time surviving, and that’s the situation facing Rick and Molly. They are going to have to force these kids to grow up fast if any of them have a hope of getting out alive.

Can’t wait to get to the next novel to see how our two sets of heroes are going to solve their very different problems.

Book 5: A Bad Day On the River

The moment I’ve been worrying about since at least the second book strikes with a vengeance. It was obvious that it had to happen. An author of a military series is not going to spend lots of time encouraging you to love his large cast of characters if he didn’t plan to start killing them off. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt—especially since my favorite secondary-ranked character was one of the casualties. It’s just one more sign that the war is getting serious.

It’s not all doom and gloom however. The humans on the colony of New Hope are getting their act together and coming to grips with this literal threat to their existence on the colony. At the same time, Rick and Molly are struggling to get their charges to face up to the fact that they cannot sit around waiting to be rescued when A) Nobody knows where they are; and B) the colony is in a fight for its very survival. Adams also gives us quick looks at what’s happening on earth (who still doesn’t know about the invasion) and two of the starships unknowingly bringing more of our favorite characters into harm’s way. Time to start book six and find out how our heroes are going to get out of this mess.

Book 6: The Fight for the Pass

Mike Adams’, The Fight for the Pass, chronicles the next stage of the war for New Hope colony between the humans and the aliens determined to take the planet away from them. Like the other books in this series, the military action is tight and credible and especially after the deaths of the last book, kept me reading furiously to learn who would survive this time around. In addition, slightly more than half the book focuses on Rick and Molly and their seventy or so stranded fellow passengers marooned deep in the wilderness after their transport was shot down in the beginning of the war. Both of these storylines more than held my interest, and I can’t wait to learn what will happen in Book 7.

That being said, I do have three—let’s call them quibbles—that kept me from giving this volume the five stars I feel the first five books earned. First, there were no absolutely stand out moments in this book that I’m still thinking about after I finished reading it. All of the other novels thus far have had at least one (and sometimes many more) of these moments. The action here is solid, but I didn’t find one of the scenes that drives me to annoy my son by telling him all about it. Second, there is an increasing amount of repetition of stories in each of these volumes—places in the story where someone tells someone else about something that happened in an earlier book. As an author, I understand how important these scenes are so I am not condemning Adams for putting them in the story. But I’ve been reading the series very rapidly and I remember all of these scenes quite well (many are the standout scenes I referred to in the previous point) and I think there were just slightly too many of them this time around. Finally, Rick and Molly give all fifty of the high school girls they are trying to get to safety nicknames that confused me terribly. I was just getting to recognize about ten of the young women by their regular names when the nicknames came along. In the context of the book, this made perfect sense, but it confuses me to no end.

Alright, enough quibbling! If you like well-rounded characters, women who can be strong and tough while still being feminine, and really excellent action scenes all set in a very credible off world colony, Fierce Girls is the series for you. I can’t wait to start reading the next book.

Book 7: Deluge

Mike Adams throws a curve ball at the reader in the seventh volume of his excellent Fierce Girls at War series. The alien invasion of the colony of New Hope is well underway, but the crisis moment of this novel is not the expected invasion of Winter Haven, but a natural disaster that threaten the lives of all of the survivors of the crashed shuttle, Cairo. This was very well done—a tense action scene with very realistic aftermath that really drives home that wildlife and aliens are not the only problems for the humans trapped in the wilderness. It’s a wonderful thing when an author can still surprise you seven books into a series.

Book 8: Enemy Found

There are a lot of moving parts in this novel and the tension gets sharper and sharper in all of them. The colony has to stand off another alien attack and figure out where they will find the resources to withstand the next one; the castaways on the Cairo come face to face with a hard truth most of them didn’t truly believe they would ever face; another group of isolated soldiers struggles to get home; the crew of the inbound starship, Asia, is trying to figure out why the colony isn’t communicating with them; and on earth, terrorist activity against the colony program continues to pose a significant threat. All of these storylines kept me flipping pages as rapidly as I could read. Can’t wait to start the next one.

Book 9: Recovery Mission

Finally our heroes go on the attack in their fight to save the colony. It’s not a full on assault, but a clever mission to penetrate behind enemy lines and recover vital supplies lost in the initial days of the alien invasion. The mission is well thought out and very interesting. At the same time, the aliens have finally discovered where the lost shuttle, Cairo, crashed with the implication being that they will send a force (hopefully in the next novel) to take possession of it—leaving another set of our heroes to hold them off with only fifty high school girls to back them up. It’s another fast paced, well-thought-out adventure.

Book 10: Jack’s Company

A lot happens in this action packed novel. The star ship, Asia, finally reaches the colony, the Rift starts its new offensive against the eastern settlements, and Rick, Molly and their band of high school castaways are put to the test when the aliens decide to scoop up the Cairo where it crashed in the mountains. Things look really bad for our heroes, but a lot of smart preparations give them a chance to survive the coming battles. All they need now is a little luck! This is easily the most powerful book so far in a very strong series. The biggest “problem” with it is that you’ll want to start the next book just as soon as you finish this one.

Book 11: Death by Water, Death by Fire

The tension just keeps growing in this series as the aliens of the Rift make a massive push to conquer the eastern colonies before winter sets in. One of the things that makes these books so strong is that the humans, despite their superior tactical and strategic experience, are still capable of being surprised and of making miscalculations. The author is also more than willing to kill off his large cast of rangers. So you never know what’s going to happen when the two sides clash and that will keep you flipping pages way past your bedtime.

Book 12: The Raid on Southport

One of the most difficult things for an author to do is to let his heroes make mistakes. First, authors are rooting for their heroes and want them to win. Second, those mistakes can easily make the heroes look foolish, undercutting qualities that the author has spent books crafting. So The Raid on Southport is about a mistake that several people make in the war between the colony of New Hope and the Rift—and it’s a credit to Mike Adams that he pulls off this blunder (which will have loads of consequences further down the road) without destroying our esteem for key players in the cast. It’s also good for the entire series. Our heroes don’t always win—and again, the cast is large enough that Adams can afford to kill many of them off without harming his ability to tell the rest of his story.

Book 13: Hitting Back

I read the first 12 books of this series very rapidly and thoroughly enjoyed them. After waiting for nearly two months for the thirteenth volume to be published, I feared that it would be difficult to step back into the Fierce Girls at War universe. My worries were groundless. From the first sentences I was fully engaged again and really had no difficulty picking up where we left off with Adams’ large cast. This is another tense installment in the series which not only provides lots of intelligent military action, it also sets up several future problems our colonists are going to have to deal with down the road. Yet it’s by no means simply an action festival. There’s a lot of credible planning of these operations and plenty of signs that the enemy is ratcheting up its own strategy to deal with the colonists’ successes of the last several books. The only thing wrong with this novel is that we have to wait for the next book to be published.

Book 14: Orders to Leave

An awful lot is happening in this novel as Adams transitions to the next stage of the war. The aliens are getting smarter and we see Bridget, one of the sisters of hero Rick Cassidy, finally complete her journey to the colony. The demon wolves finally reach Cassidy and the stranded colonists and the rest of the colony and the aliens are getting ready to knock their enemies on their asses. What’s most fascinating is that both the humans and the aliens are probably correct in that assessment. Times are about to get much worse for both sides.

The aliens also have finally figured out that the humans never expected to find an intelligent adversary on this world and so have most likely not brought their best offensive weapons. They further realize that once the human home world learns what has happened, much more devastating weapons are likely to be on the way. What’s not clear is why the aliens think that feeding all these humans to their mercenaries will somehow protect them. It seems to me that if the humans choose to bring in true military hardware, the aliens are doomed whether or not they have killed all the humans currently on the planet or not. Yet the alien failure to understand just how bad their larger strategic picture is doesn’t lessen the danger that our heroes face, but it does show that they really haven’t fully understood the precariousness of their situation.

Book 15: Change of Destination

We’ve been waiting for about 12 books now to see how earth will respond to the news that aliens are invading New Hope Colony and in Change of Destination we finally get to see that first response and it was worth every minute of the wait. As one might expect, it comes as a shock to Ranger command to learn that intelligent aliens exist and they are attacking the colony, but they rebound well and lay the groundwork for some excellent battles to come—assuming the colony can survive long enough for reinforcements to reach them. And that survival is by no means certain. The reinforced aliens have started their new offensive and things are not going well for the colonists. The aliens have finally gotten clever. Add that to their vastly superior numbers and it’s going to get bloody on the colony over the next few books.

Book 16: Burning Mountain

At the end of Change of Destination, the previous book in this series, things looked pretty bleak for the colonists of New Hope. I expected the next couple of novels to be filled with heavy human casualties and lost settlement after lost settlement. But author Mike Adams surprised me. Rather than title this book, Burning Mountain, he should have called it The Humans Get Clever—and oh do they.

If you like smart military tactics, ingenious tricks, hard fighting and intelligently courageous action, this is the book for you. At two different settlements, the humans dig in and start out thinking the aliens again and that produces some extremely clever and totally believable counterattacks. Some of the things they do are things I wondered about (like finding a way to give the shuttles some fire power), but most of them were pure surprises to me. The colonists are a long way from being out of trouble, but after this book there is a little more hope on the horizon.

Book 17: The March South

Adams returns to his Fierce Girls at War series with another strong entry in the consistently high quality science fiction military adventure. Now that we’re seventeen books in its worth taking a few moments to remember how we got here. Earth is developing its first interstellar colony. It’s an impressively international effort marred only by the terrorist groups that oppose any interstellar colonization and the normal distrust that nations have for each other. To minimize that distrust, the earth governments have agreed to minimize the military hardware on the admittedly dangerous planet to modest automatic rifles with minimal excess ammunition. This leaves the colony ill prepared to defend itself when aliens show up to contest their right to the planet.

The aliens, however, are not your typical sf villains. While they definitely count as bad guys in the series, the “jammies” as the humans come to call them are not used to waging war among themselves and when they do find the need to fight generally use low tech proxies to wage their battles for them. These proxies, the raagaa, are physically durable creatures using medieval-style weapons. They also find human flesh to be a delicacy. The long-lived jammies are inexperienced in combat and slow to react making “initiative” one of the primary human strategic assets during the war.

The other factor to keep in mind is that it takes about six months for a ship to get from the colony of New Hope to the earth and another six months to get back again. So from the beginning of the alien attack, the humans have recognized that their primary task is to hold on until help (in the form of military back up with state of the art weaponry) can reach them. This leads to the only significant weakness in the overall story. The aliens aren’t stupid. They also figure out that the humans are much more warlike than they are and that their reinforcements are likely to bring much more advanced and destructive weapons, yet somehow they think that killing and eating every human on the planet before the reinforcements arrive will resolve the conflict in their favor. Maybe this is simply a reflection on how their species would react to a similar situation, but it seems rather dense of them.

The March South picks up the storyline of a group of captured humans who are basically waiting to be eaten. Their situation is desperate and they have no hope. The aliens have pushed the humans back to only three settlements and the colonists have no ability to locate or rescue the prisoners. But by fortuitous, but credible, coincidence, one of the main storylines that has been being developed for fifteen books, crosses paths with the prisoners. On the first day of the war, a shuttle bearing a handful of rangers, two of the principal heroes of the series, and about fifty young women from the New Hope Academy was shot down by the aliens and crashed in the wilderness far from any hope of rescue. Our heroes have been training those young women to fight as the colonial rangers do and after about six months of preparation have been trying to march their way out of the wilderness to civilization. This small group (called Jack’s Company) encounters the raagaa with many of the prisoners and their clash forms the central action of the novel. Then Adams does one of the things that makes this series so good. In the aftermath of the rescue he brings a great deal of strife into Jack’s Company by having many of the rescued prisoners be self-centered jerks unable to recognize the reality of their circumstances and to take the young women who rescued them seriously. In the midst of all the life and death struggles that dominate the series, this is a very different style of challenge that makes this novel stand out from the rest. As always, I am looking forward to the sequel.

Book 18: Sacrifice

Adams shifts gears a little in this eighteenth novel in the series and spends about 70% of the book focusing on the efforts of Rick Cassidy and Molly Bennett to guide fifty high school girls and a dozen or so chaperones, plush the captives they rescued in the last book, through the wilderness to safety. Of course, the wilderness they are working their way through is overrun with about 30,000 aliens and all the normal dangerous creatures that inhabit the planet of New Hope. Then again, these high school girls have spent six months training as colonial rangers and they aren’t exactly helpless.

If you’ve been reading my reviews of the series, you’ll know that these novels are well balanced between action and the planning of the military campaign against the aliens. This one goes more on the action side and the tension increases accordingly. Add to that that the title of the book is called “Sacrifice” and you’ll spend each encounter wondering who’s going to make the ultimate sacrifice in the novel. Adams isn’t exactly George R. R. Martin killing off his whole cast in Games of Throne but he’s already taken out several of my favorite characters so I never feel that anyone is safe in these books. That willingness pays dividends here as we wonder which of these young soldiers is going to die.

To further increase the suspense, in the last book Cassidy and his soldiers rescued several humans captured by the aliens and a couple of them just cannot come to the grips with the reality that they are in the middle of the wilderness fighting for their lives. They want to control everything and to be pampered. They’ve already gotten several of their fellow captives killed and every time they came on screen I wondered what idiotic thing they would do to increase the danger to the rest of the group. It was an excellent device to make a bad situation even worse.

This novel also includes excellent sections in which the humans and aliens separately recognize how precarious there two situations are (with reinforcements coming to both sides) and lay their plans accordingly. The next books are likely to be even more exciting.

Book 19: Sudden Silence by Mike Adams

It’s been obvious for several books now that while the alien invaders might well be able to crush the human colonists on New Hope, they have no chance of winning the actual war once reinforcements from earth with proper military weapons (tanks, fighter jets, artillery, high caliber bullets, etc.) start to arrive. In the opening pages of the latest Fierce Girls novels, Mike Adams shows that the aliens fully understand this problem and gives both a plausible explanation for their continuing to fight and a dastardly strategy for trying to snatch some measure of victory out of the catastrophe they have created. I appreciate that, but I’m not surprised by it. If there is one thing I have come to expect from this series it is that the author has carefully thought out all the issues that I can think of. He is literally planning at last six or eight books ahead of the current novel as he proved again in Sudden Silence when he brought two long-running and apparently disparate storylines together in an exciting and action packed encounter.

Most of this book continues to follow Rick Cassidy and Jack’s Company as they struggle to make their way out of the deep wilderness and back to civilization. They encounter new problems at every turn—not the least is the continued need to rescue humans captured by the alien forces. As was true in the last book, the rescued humans have a lot of difficulty coming to grips with their dependence on a company composed of high school girls. That difficulty continues to cause serious problems that strain the leadership talents of Cassidy.

One of the things I like best about this series is Adams’ ability to foreshadow coming action through the slow arrival of the various spacecraft and the planning sessions by the two militaries. It keeps us thinking ahead to the next phase of the war even as our heroes battle to survive the current ones. With another wave of alien reinforcements arriving, it certainly appears that matters are about to get a lot worse.

Book 20: Let It Rain by Mike Adams

It’s been more than three months since I read the last book in this series (Sudden Silence) and sitting down with this volume was like visiting an old friend. That’s one of the strengths of a well-written series—the characters and the settings are quite familiar and it’s easy to pick up the plot threads left dangling from the previous book. That’s an especially impressive accomplishment for the Fierce Girls at War series because the cast is huge and the war against the alien invaders has left people we are following scattered all across the continent.

Adams didn’t ease us into the action this time around. Instead he almost immediately introduces a new plan to strike back against the aliens and stall the next phase of their invasion of New Hope Colony. I don’t want to give the plot away, but this new idea brought me to the edge of my seat and had me impatiently reading waiting to see how well the idea would work. If you will recall from my earlier reviews, the colonists were not ready for war. They don’t have advanced armaments like bombs, missiles, tanks or even artillery. Their weapons are fairly low powered rifles and their ammunition supply is always critically low. So watching them find creative ways to hurt the invaders has long been one of the many high points in this series, and I loved their latest innovation in this novel.

If you like strong characters, great action, and W.E.B. Griffon level planning of operations, you’ll really enjoy this series. But start with book 1 (Fierce Girls), you’ll want to follow these heroes through every step of their journey.

Book 21: Strike Teams by Mike Adams

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the key to the colony of New Hope surviving the alien invasion will prove to be the survivors of a transport shot down in the opening minutes of the war. The transport was caring 50 teenaged girls from the New Hope Academy, their teachers, and a handful of military personnel. Crashed in dangerous wilderness beyond any hope of rescue, the decision is made to turn the civilians into a military outfit to maximize their chances of hiking back to civilization. The progress of these young women in making that transition has been chronicled as one of the main story elements for the last 18 books and in Strike Teams it continues to pay massive dividends. They are a rogue element behind the enemy lines in conquered territory, and they keep acting to free captured humans many of whom are military and expand their unit strength. Adams has ingeniously laid the groundwork for these rescues and this growth over the course of the entire series and now as the aliens prepare for their final push against the main settlement of New Hope, this rogue military force in the back country is preparing to cause them a lot more trouble. You just can’t help but feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction as we move toward the end game of this series.

Book 22: Somewhere to Run to by Mike Adams

The noose is tightening around New Hope as the aliens prepare for a massive all-out assault to finish what they think is the last human settlement on the planet, but the rangers defending this outpost know that all they have to do is hold out until earth can send reinforcements with heavy weapons to rescue them. So the stakes are high in the twenty-second installment in this action-packed incredibly well thought out series as both sides are reaching that all or nothing moment when victory and survival will mean exactly the same thing.

One of the great thrills of this series is watching the desperate humans find new and clever ways to employ the very limited material they have to fight the war, and this time Adams comes up with a tactic I had wondered about several books earlier in the series. It’s definitely clever and promises to buy the colonists a couple of more days—if it doesn’t blow up in their faces and hasten their doom.

Finally, Adams returns to the Jacks, fifty teenaged girls from New Hope Academy who were stranded out in the wilderness at the beginning of the war. We’ve watched them train to fight and survive, grow into a competent military unit, battle wildlife and aliens with growing confidence, and rescue something like eight times their number of adult rangers and civilians captured (or in danger of being captured) by the aliens. In the latter half of this book they take on yet another amazing challenge, finally positioning themselves (I think) to be the decisive element in the coming battle for New Hope. Maybe next book we’ll see if I’m as smart as I think I am. I can’t wait to read it.

Book 23 Forward Recon by Mike Adams

Time has run out for the colonists as the aliens finally start the Battle for New Hope. The much needed reinforcements with modern military weaponry are just a few days from orbit, but New Hope cannot hold out that long. Indeed, the defenders might not even be able to hold out long enough to evacuate the rest of the colonists to the emergency shelters they’ve been hiding away in remote areas on two continents.

While the life and death of New Hope is being determined, the Jacks—fifty-high-school-students-turned-rangers and the several hundred adult-rangers they’ve rescued—are finally in a position to start turning the war around. They’ve penetrated the settlements the aliens conquered early in the war and are starting to take them back, stealing the invaders victories away from them and creating a new zone in which the reinforcements can land to throw their presumably decisive strength into the war.

This book has all the things that have made this series so much fun to read. The humans—nearly out of military ordinance—must use their ingenuity to continue throwing the aliens back on their heels. The question remains, will it be enough to keep the majority of the colonists alive until the cavalry arrives.

Book 24 A Change in Momentum by Mike Adams

Despite the alien conquest of the settlement of New Hope in the last volume, by the start of this novel pretty much everyone agrees that they are done for. While the main alien army massed for the push on New Hope, Rick and Molly lead their growing force against the poorly protected rear of the alien advance retaking key settlements that it is highly unlikely the aliens will be able to recover before serious human reinforcements arrive. On top of that, the aliens didn’t capture the thousands of human prisoners they had hoped for, so they have figured out that the humans have been secretly making even more retreats. The aliens will have no leverage at all when human reinforcements arrive.

Frankly, I don’t think the real high-tech weaponry will even get to New Hope before the alien threat is defeated—and that’s a shame—it would have been fun to watch the humans fight with something besides their relatively low powered rifles. Alas, unless something totally unexpected boosts the aliens’ chances, it’s not going to be needed. The Rift (the alien leadership) knows it’s defeated and has figured out that the humans on the colony are not fighting with their most advanced weaponry. The problem is that the alien mercenaries won’t quit. So the Rift is between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea. The humans are coming for them, but their own troops will mutiny and eat them if they try to work out a negotiated end to the conflict.

The most fascinating part of this novel to me was how the humans are responding to what they see as the coming end of the war. They are planning ahead and working toward rebuilding their colony even with a major alien army still in the field. That’s actually quite sensible, but it still feels strange when the threat, while momentarily contained, isn’t really over. I guess in the next (and I’m guessing, final) novel, we’ll find out if they’re being premature.

Book 25 Boundary Formation Alpha

For the second book in a row, the humans are acting as if the war with the aliens over New Hope Colony is over even though there are more than a hundred thousand of the enemy still in the field. By the end of the book, it begins to look like that bit of overconfidence is going to really cost them in the final novel of the series. In the meantime, the humans, especially the young women of Jack’s Company, have two more conflicts—both minor in scale but important tactically—to engage in. That action, and the prep for that action is really important to keeping this novel going because there is also a lot of reminiscing and telling the tales of earlier books in this story. Telling those tales makes sense in the storyline, but as someone who has read and enjoyed the other twenty-four books in the series, it did seem like we were covering the same territory again and again.

All of that being said, two things really stood out to me in this novel. For the first time, thanks to intelligence gathered in the previous novel, the humans begin to really analyze the Rift aliens. They’ve been trying to do so based on their actions, but now, finally, we have the chance to peer into their culture and I found that very satisfying. The other thing that stood out is a small complaint. Mallory, a villain of earlier novels, is rehabilitated in this book and I thought it was a very rare breaking of character for Adams. Frankly, I have never understood how he keeps his cast of hundreds straight from novel to novel. It’s an impressive feat, and if you go back to look at the same characters in earlier books, they read true throughout the series—except for the self-absorbed bureaucrat from Winter Haven who got a man killed in an earlier novel and caused such trouble for the Jacks after they rescued her. I didn’t think—and still don’t think—she had it in her character to laugh at herself. She is too small, self-important, and mean. But that’s a very small complaint after twenty-five novels of first-rate characterization and adventure.

It looks like we have one more book. Serious human reinforcements are almost here which will effectively end the alien threat—but I predict they will be just a little too late to save the colony from the aliens’ last great push. That means that once again the Jacks and the Colonial Rangers are going to have to pull off a miracle to keep from being overrun. And as it’s right at the end, I think it’s a legitimate concern that Adams may kill off significant numbers of our heroines as he proved he was willing to do earlier in the series.

I can’t wait to read it.

Book 26 Sound the Alarm by Mike Adams

One of the things I like most about this series is when the point of view returns to people on earth who are learning about the events at New Hope Colony surrounding the alien invasion. Those people are quite naturally worried about the colonists, but they also have to deal with the political realities on earth which adds a bit of tension to what is really just a clever way for the author to remind the reader of what happened in the previous twenty-five books.

Back on the colony, the aliens are preparing a little surprise to set the humans back on their heels again. For the past couple of books, I’ve thought the humans were becoming a bit complacent with the war. They know they have serious reinforcements getting close and they have successfully protected major portions of their populations. So, it was nice to see the aliens getting ready to strike another serious blow. It’s also nice to realize that the aliens have more than one pan on the stove so we can legitimately worry about our favorite characters as we close in on the final book.