Valiant Dust: Breaker of Empires #1
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
f you enjoyed C.S. Forrester's historical
novels and/or David Weber's SF Honor Harrington series, then dive into
, the first in Richard Baker's new
Breaker of Empires
books, military SF at its best. And, if you're wondering about the title, it's from Rudyard Kipling's poem
ur hero, Lieutenant Sikander Singh North, is Kashmiri royalty, his home system a client state to Aquila, and far behind in both technology and industrial development. As a younger son, Sikander is expected to help remedy that, and to assume military service. We see him arriving, accompanied by his valet/minder Darvesh Reza, to take up a post on Aquilan Commonwealth light cruiser
in the Caledonia system. He takes over the gunnery department. He wins some respect, gains an enemy, and investigates a puzzling torpedo accident. Then the starship is sent to the Gadira system.
here we meet another lead character, Amira Ranya Meriem el-Nasir. Heir to the throne of her uncle, Sultan Rashid, she takes her responsibilities very seriously, and assesses military imports, needed to help deal with growing unrest from traditional extremists, Caidists. (Like Kashmir, Gadira was long isolated and is behind in technology.) But little do Ranya and her uncle know that these groups are being manipulated by an offworlder agent of the Empire of Dremark. Soon, Dremish warships arrive in the system and the action escalates onworld and in space.
s Captain Markham balances diplomacy and threat of forceful action, Ranya survives a terrorist attack. She and Sikander meet on more than one occasion and their mutual attraction increases. But will either survive the conflagration that follows? I'm looking forward to more of this thoroughly engaging series.
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