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 The initial trilogy featured an outdated carrier class ship, Ark Royal, and first contact with the race that became known as the tadpoles, which led to an interstellar war.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?
The war with the aliens that was the backbone of the Ark Royal series is over and it's now time to deal with the aftermath. Humanity knows it is not alone in the universe and only a fraction of Earth's infrastructure and space navies remain intact. Heavy losses were suffered by many nations and the balance of power is changing. It is within this turbulent time of rebuilding that Warspite, the first of a new class of heavy cruiser produced by the Royal Navy, is created from a combination of alien and human technology. The series begins by following Captain Naiser on Warspite's maiden voyage and it is composed of all new characters that are basically the next generation after the main characters from the Ark Royal series.
Ark Royal and her crew are the laughing stocks of the Royal Space Navy. The old lady is 70 years old now and more museum than active carrier as she remains parked in orbit around Earth full time. Her systems are out of date and her crew cobbles together whatever leftovers they can to keep her barely functional. She has also become the dumping ground for Royal Navy personnel that have screwed up elsewhere, so her crew lacks motivation. All of that changes in an instant when an unknown alien race arrives and cuts through the modern ships in the human Space Navies like a hot knife through butter leaving Ark Royal as a last line of defense.