Dr. Sophie Winston and her small band of survivors now understand how dire their circumstances are, but unfortunately they are not aligned on how best to move forward. The aliens have already removed all of the fresh water from the planet and now they are working on the oceans where they are sucking the water into the toward their orbiting ships. Back on land the aliens have set up a number of "human farms" where they mount people onto poles and slowly drain the water from their bodies. The human farm that has been discovered in Colorado Springs has Sgt Overton adamant about mounting a rescue mission to save as many people as possible but Sophie believes that such a mission would put them all at risk and she refuses to authorize it. The strain of this disagreement has them both at their breaking points.
For long time fans of this series Cast in Wisdom is a satisfying return to what made the early books great. Kaylin and her friends are back to investigating the problem of Ravellon, the ancient city overrun by the corrupt Shadows that simultaneously exists on all worlds. When a shadow escapes into the Fief of Candallar without triggering its protective Tower and the dragon Bellusdeo suggests they start their investigation by looking closely into the border zone between the towers. To Kaylin and the others what they find is a strange puzzle, but to the Arkon it is of great personal significance. So much so that he will risk everything, including his sanity, to solve it and if the eldest and most powerful of the Dragon Lords should lose his sanity....
In the year 2055 an unprecedented series of solar storms results in a coronal mass ejection (CME) that bombards the Earth with radiation and renders many locations uninhabitable. This cataclysm motivates the governments of the world to start collaborating on a joint project to start to populate another world - Mars. New Tech Corporation (NTC) becomes responsible for getting humans to the red planet and they are hiring the best scientists in the world to make it happen. Their sense of urgency in this endeavor is off the charts and that is because they know something that most people on Earth don't - the CME of 2055 was not a random event.
What's worse than an undead army that is lead by a powerful Liche approaching your city with plans to destroy it? Of course it is an undead army with a Marketing department that is actively convincing your defenders to switch sides before the fighting even starts. This horror and more await Gorm Ingerson and his party of "heroes" who find themselves disgraced and on the run after the events of the first book. Gorm's group is struggling to survive yet still hoping to set things right with the orcs when the undead army starts to destroy city after city and alters their plans. Gorm must sort out how to get his dysfunctional group of adventurers ready for the challenges ahead as each party member is dealing with personal issues capable of unraveling the group at any moment.
Roy Hammond and the crazy crew from the Road to the Goberlings are back in a new ship, Another Road. When last we saw these probable descendants of MacGyver, Nika had just killed a corporate assassin but the Eaglehawk executive Wickmore managed to escape the bomb and was still hunting her. Now they are dodging a mercenary ship sent by Wickmore as well as agents of the Justice Department that want Nika for their own reasons. Meanwhile Nika is working to keep Roy alive as his body struggles with the integration of his immortality and returning memory. All roads lead to the dangerous planet Zell, caught between two bazaar and deadly cosmic forces, where a mining colony has encountered the first sentient aliens....and the trail of Goberling's legendary find from the first book. As usual the crew are dodging missiles and corporate politics as various members are captured, rescued, and lost in space in this future universe driven by greed and vanity.
Humorous books often fall flat for me but this time I must admit I often found myself chuckling quite a few times. Orconomics takes a look at the financial eco-system that fuels a world where being an adventurer is a standard career pursued by many and heading into a dungeon to slay monsters for loot is merely a job. Adventurers are common and all of them are part of the Heroes Guild where they can achieve levels when they are assigned points for killing foes. What is a foe? Well it is anything designated as such by the guild and quests are contracts that are funded by investors who are investing in the potential loot to be collected by killing those foes. This book takes a look at those in the background of this peculiar financial eco-system, and how they are manipulating things to their advantage, but the main stars are a party of down-on-their-luck adventurers caught up in the middle of these machinations.
The latest interstellar war has been a back and forth affair so far, but an advancement in technology on the human side of the equation offers up a unique opportunity. So far the enemy has had the tech advantage due to their faster-than-light (FTL) communications, which allows them to react much faster than the humans or tadpoles, but now FTL travel without a tramline is becoming a reality. This means that ships will no longer need to take a predictable path from one star system to another and humanity can strike directly at the home world of the enemy. There is a catch though: it is a one way trip, which means it is a win or die mission for every ship involved.
Ark Royal book 8 picks up right after the events of book 7, Vanguard. The first engagement of the war is now over and both Susan Onarina and Georgina Fitzwilliam find themselves in very different situations based on their decisions during that conflict. Vanguard barely survived to make it home under Susan's leadership and upon return to Earth she finds herself taken into custody for relieving Vanguard's former commander. Although she is quite certain that he was unfit for duty, Susan knew at the time that taking such a drastic step would have consequences and now is the time to find out just what those consequences are. On the other hand, Georgina is now in the uncomfortable role of being first middy in charge of four new midshipmen and she is not certain that she is ready for this new responsibility.
Each trilogy within the larger Ark Royal series centers around a single ship and an associated alien contact story line. The initial trilogy featured an outdated carrier class ship, Ark Royal, and first contact with the race that became known as the tadpoles, which led to an interstellar war. The second trilogy featured a heavy cruiser class ship, Warspite, and first contact with the planet Vesy that contains a reptilian race not as technologically advanced as humanity. The Warspite trilogy had us fighting amongst ourselves and it just wasn't as good as the original. This third series features the first ship from a new class of battleship, Vanguard, and another story of interstellar war that hopes to recapture the glory of the initial series. Does it work?
Now that the battle for the metal islands is over, the aftermath of that battle becomes the new focus. The former residents of the Hive now find themselves living on the surface and the ancient prophecy fulfilled isn't the dream life that was expected. X quickly discovers that uniting the Sky People and the Cazadores into a single community is much harder than just letting them kill each other. Neither side truly respects the other and just because X is weary of killing it doesn't mean everyone else is. X's attempt to form a new combined society in the metal islands could lead to a brighter future, but it is far more likely to just result in the extinction of the human race...