Select one of the keywords
Valiant Dust: Breaker of Empires #1    by Richard Baker order for
Valiant Dust
by Richard Baker
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If you enjoyed C.S. Forrester's historical Hornblower novels and/or David Weber's SF Honor Harrington series, then dive into Valiant Dust, 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 Recessional.

Our 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 Hector 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.

There 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.

As 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.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews