It has been thirteen years since Rick Galloway and his CIA mercenaries were rescued from Angola by a UFO. There to be sent to the planet Tran a medieval level planet. Armed with modern weapons they were supposed to carve out a kingdom and grow madweed for an alien race called the Shalnuksis. A planet populated by descendants of humans kidnapped throughout time. A hodgepodge of cultures from Byzantium, Celts, Mongols and Venetians occupies this planet. Rick has managed to get his kingdom, yet life is a constant struggle. Various factions are constantly waging war. Now there are new players. A new group of starmen in the form of Gurkhas have arrived. Also arrived are three mysterious strangers from Earth with three shipping containers filled with knowledge. Knowledge that could help propel Tran into a modern interstellar civilization. First though Galloway has to fight a coalition out to get these containers.
The final book in the Janissaries series. I loved these three books written way back in the seventies and eighties. Then nothing but Pournelle was working on another book. Sadly, he died in 2019 and it looked like we would never get this. Fortunately, most of it was written and he left extensive notes on the conclusion. His son and author David Weber managed to complete it and here it is. I think this the best of the series. At 800 plus pages it is a bit of a doorstop. Yet I was captivated from beginning to end. All the political intrigue both on Tran and this mysterious alien confederation that uses human slaves to administer it. The combat is another thing that he excelled at. It was realistic and fast paced. Weber and his son did a great job of completing the story. It all felt like Pournelle wrote it. Ended very similar to the Falkenberg series with Galloway being proclaimed imperator and basically warlord of Tran.
Mamelukes are the rulers of Egypt that like the Janissaries of the Ottomans were slave soldiers and administrators. Only they ended up taking over the empire. Possibly a hint at the human Janissaries of the alien confederation someday doing the same. The book did leave open the possibility of more and maybe someone will continue the story. Sadly, this reminds me of the loss of a brilliant writer and yet thankful for this closure.