Owing More to Ender’s Game than either the Honor Harrington or Star Wars series, A Call to Duty casts a wide net before honing in at the end to a single event. The story moves easily but can be a bit confusing with such a diverse cast of characters. Those who have not read either Weber or Zahn need not worry about being lost – this takes place 400 years previous in the Honor Harrington series. But fans will also appreciate the hints of ‘things to come’ and the cameo of the big bad.
Story: The Manticoran politics are in an upheaval – with the validity and survival of the Navy at the center. Those who feel it is a relic are fighting those who believe the RMN is an absolute necessity to protect their worlds. Enter a wide range of diverse characters on all sides of the conflict: from a raw gifted recruit to a husband wife team of marine and engineer. Politicians, royalty, civllians, navymen, and even pirates are about to collide when a group of battle ships are put up at action for the highest bidder.
Although the synopsis would lead a reader to believe this is a young adult story of a teenager enlisting, in reality, there is a multiple
POV story in which Travis Long is a player but not a key narrator. The heart of the novel is politics vs integrity and the consequences that result. Those familiar with the British government system will especially recognize the Manticoran system of exchequer, royalty, and political maneuverings.
Although there is a lot of action at the end, it takes a long time to get there and to go through quite a few view points. Starting that broadly felt a lot like having to read about the American Revolution, Civil War, and Stock Market Crash of 1929 in order to finally end up at the Bombing of Pearl Harbor. It’s a bit much but certainly the basis for a more robust series with all that groundwork.
There were a few minor detractors for me. I really wanted to follow just one person’s viewpoint, not a huge cast. The plot machinations and character motivations were fairly simplistic, almost middle grade level. And that cover….not sure who thought that was a good idea.
In all, I love space opera and A Call To Duty was an enjoyable read that has a great reach for several ages (young adult through to adult). Reviewed from an ARC.