The Invasion of the Highborn.
The mysterious enemy has come, and Tyler Barron and his allies prepare for the final battle, the desperate struggle to save the Rim. Barron’s spacers are ready to fight, as always, but this time they know little of the enemy, and they face technology far beyond their own.
They will fight to the end if necessary, battle with their final breaths to hold back the deadly enemy. They will stand alongside their old enemies, the Hegemony, united for one massive battle, one all out effort to stop the Highborn.
But, even as they prepare to make a stand, they will learn exactly what they are facing, who the Highborn truly are and where they came from…and they will discover that nothing is truly as they’d believed. From the legends of the old empire to the desperate struggle for the future, everything is about to change.
The Last Stand has hit online bookstores, bringing with it another invasion, another desperate alliance, and some vital revelations as to why the galaxy was plunged into a dark age. The 14th book in Jay Allan’s Blood on the Stars series continues to deliver a hybrid of Honor Harrington and Battlestar Galactica action without resorting to escalating tech races. Fighters and damage control win battles, and whatever tactical edge that exists gets blunted through new counter tactics.
However, the Highborn come off as the Hegemony 2.0, complete with genetic castes, superior tech, and a long war on another front. They are the same peril from beyond known space, with the same conflicts and concerns, just carried to a further extreme. And like the Hegemony, the Highborn’s hope for a quick invasion and integration of a previously unknown region gets dashed to pieces by a desperate last stand. Once again, the tactical edge lays in the Confederation’s fighters and bombers, and in the leadership of Confederation Admiral Tyler Barron. And Barron’s confidence rests in his disciplined and proven crew and the technological wizardry of his chief engineer, Anya Fritz.
However, Barron and Fritz take a back seat to Barron’s wife, Andromeda, and the Confederation’s ace of aces, Jake Stockton. Andromeda’s search through the ruins of the fallen Imperium for traces of the Highborn’s history becomes the most compelling thread through the book. The demands of leading mayflies into battle against giants wears on Stockton, even as he contributes miracle after miracle. There’s a clever and game-changing twist at the end of Stockton’s story which offsets some of the heavy-handed foreshadowing in the book. This twist is going to get a lot of people killed in the story.
Blood on the Stars never shies away from the human costs of war, both in the butcher’s bill and the cost to the survivors. As such, the cast is starting to be stretched thin, not just by the fifth consecutive major war, but by attrition itself. There’s just not enough named cast remaining for another fight after this war, and the Confederation is next to exhausted already. And there are at least two more conflicts in the works, including the continuing Union Civil War. This has been a long thread through Blood on the Stars, and what foreshadowing might exist has been played close to the vest. While it is yet to be seen how that will tie into the ongoing galactic fight, it is certain that the conflict will require Barron’s attention before too much longer. However, the repetitive nature of this fight, the weariness of the crews, and the sudden galactic revelations causes one to wonder how much steam is left in the series. Stakes can only be escalated so far, after all.
Blood on the Stars is still the heir to Honor Harrington. Hopefully, it doesn’t get stretched thin like Honor’s books were. As for The Last Stand, it is a must read for those already on this long ride, especially for the twist at the end.