Sparta has won a great victory over the Helots. Yet the survivors have escaped and with continued support from Senator Bronson have regrouped and rearmed. They continue a guerrilla war with acts of terrorism. They also get help from Bronson’s influence over the CoDominium fleet. They increase the flow of involuntary colonists to give the Helots more recruits and blockade the planet economically. In spite of this, the Spartans manage to deal the Helots a decisive blow at a battle, and it looks like they will defeat them. Only the CoDominium has collapsed, and Bronson’s faction enters the fight on the side of the Helots. Sparta and the Legion have a final battle that will decide the fate of not only Sparta but the future of mankind.
The final book in the series is the best of the series. It is a brilliant study in Low Intensity Conflicts of the twentieth century. That time when two superpowers would support guerilla movements. The guerillas existed solely because of outside support and safe havens to operate from. How the guerrilla movement starts out as a hit and run force to a conventional force. Also, how this movement is effectively fought. A really exciting ending that shows how a free and well-armed people can resist such a movement.
Naturally they win with help from defecting fleet personnel and ends with them basically declaring fealty to the Spartan king as the Roman emperors of old were. I love the characters including the Spartan king Lysander. A man who inspired his troops to fight on in adversity. The Helot leader Skilly who is a complete psychopath and massacres innocent women and children to achieve her goal.
Sadly, Pournelle decided to abandon writing at this time and go into retirement. I would have loved to see more stories about this fascinating universe. How Sparta continued on after the fall of the CoDominium and built the Spartan Hegemony. Falkenberg’s Legion series is my favorite of Pournelle’s work. I never get tired of rereading them.
A regiment of Falkenberg’s Legion has come to Sparta to set up a standing army for them. They came just in time for Senator Bronson has been financing an insurgency. The Liberation Army of Sparta or the Helots have started to flex their muscles. They start with terrorism and low intensity guerilla war. There is also a traitor in the form of a Spartan senator named Dion Croser. He leads the political segment of the Non-Citizen Liberation Front or NCLF. A series of high-profile terrorist attacks shows the level of power they have achieved. Bronson has hired the best mercenaries in the form of technoninjas from the planet Meiji. The story culminates in a big battle between the Helots and the untried Spartan Royal Army. A battle where the Helots use poison gas to try and deliver a final blow.
Pournelle decided to get Stirling to help him with the further adventures of Falkenberg’s Legion. I can see his influence in the pseudo encyclopedia entries at the beginning of each chapter that deals with some fictional history or place the chapter deals with. I think the character of Skilly the Belizean gang leader turned Maoist guerilla is also his creation. The action now comes to the planet Sparta which is the future place where the Empire of Man is formed. We explore this fascinating society founded by American intellectuals based on the freedoms of the old America. It does have a society of freedom and the ability of upward mobility. They are a democracy but have a dual monarchy based on the Sparta of Greece. The reasoning is that politicians became too shortsighted, and they wanted leaders that were in it for the long haul. Not really sure a hereditary monarchy is the answer, but it is definitely true the politicians of current era are only concerned with the next short term election cycle.
This book does a brilliant job of showing how an army is built up from scratch. The mechanics of a Maoist type guerilla war. Starts with terrorist attacks and assassinations geared toward destabilizing the government. They hope to drive the government to more repressive measures which drive more people to the movement. This is also only sustainable with the help of an outside entity bankrolling it. Ends with an exciting battle and the Crown Prince Lysander the future first emperor making a bold move to win the battle. Although not decisively as there will be a return in the next book.
It is 2259 during the Narn-Centauri war. A temporary truce is called and the two parties are to have a peace conference on Babylon 5. The Tlinn a conquered people of the Narn have come to disrupt the conference. Also coming to the station is Semana MacBride an art dealer to deliver a new statue for the park. She is also a con-woman and has a plan to play off both Centauri ambassador Londo Mollari and Narn ambassador G’Kar over a priceless stolen Centauri artifact. Susan Ivanova has to deal with a new arrival under her command that is mentally unstable. He has started to leave her doctored videos that show her brother as a traitor. Will they be able to prevent the Tlinn from disrupting the peace conference.
This book by Stirling is a good book but not great. He is a good writer and has a grasp of the show’s characters and situations. This was sort of three different stories going on at the same time. My big complaint is the story read as an average episode of the series. It was competently done but didn’t have anything to make it stand out. Sort of an average entry into the series.
In the year 2000 Jeremy Wainman makes it to the American settlement of Kennedy Base on Mars. In this timeline both Mars and Venus are inhabited. The cold war rivalry has been channeled into settling these worlds. After the encounter with the advanced alien technology on Venus both sides are looking for more. Wainman an archaeologist is there to explore the ancient ruins on Mars. The Martians are an ancient race that were once ruled by the Crimson Dynasty. Now are nothing more than a collection of city states. Wainman hires Teyud za-Zhalt as a guide to the ancient city of Rema-Dza. Aboard the landship Intrepid Traveler they must fight off the various creatures and pirates that populate the Deep Beyond. Teyud has a secret. She is the daughter of the emperor and rightful heir to the Crimson Throne. In Rema-Dza they find the ancient invisible crown which activates because of her genetic heritage. Now they must make it to the old imperial city of Dvor Il-Adazar or City beneath the mountain at Mons Olympus and restore the power of the Crimson Dynasty.
The second book in the Lords of Creation series. This one deals with Mars. Here we have a much more advanced race of people. Mainly in biological sciences they create most of their tech from living machines. They are a people that are somewhat different genetically from Earth humans but still related. They also are a race that seems to have little curiosity and believe everything that has been worth discovering has already been done. So their society is stagnant and they show little interest in the Vas-Terrain or people from the Wet World.
I think this was better than the first book. The Martian society had a fascinating complexity to it. Plus you had the good old fashioned adventure with flying ships, swordfights ,intrigue and romance. Sterling left open some new story ideas at the end for the ancient technology activated by the invisible crown opens stargates on all three worlds to a new world. So there are new worlds to explore and maybe someday Sterling will continue with this fascinating look at a reality where Mars and Venus were made habitable by a mysterious ancient alien race.
In this alternate reality the planets of Venus and Mars support life. Probes sent in 1962 confirm that the worlds have humanoid civilizations. So a great space race begins between the U.S. and its allies on one side. The Eastbloc countries on the other. By the 1980’s settlements are established on both worlds. In 1988 Marc Vitrac is a young man who is part of the Jamestown settlement on Venus. He later becomes part of an expedition to rescue and Eastbloc shuttle that crashed far to the west. Aboard the blimp Vepaja they encounter a war between a tribe of humans that are amber skinned and blonde. They are in a war with a cannibalistic Neanderthal tribe. This tribe is armed with AK-47s salvaged from the shuttle. They are also lead by a survivor of the shuttle that is possessed by an ancient alien artifact. Joining with Teesa the beautiful leader of the Cloud Mountain People Marc must battle dinosaurs, sabretooth tigers, cavemen, and an alien computer gone mad.
This is the first book in the Lords of Creation series by Sterling. Basically it takes the premise that Burrough’s worlds of Venus and Mars are inhabitable and transports them to a more modern time. In this reality an ancient race terraformed the two worlds. Now Venus is a world of jungles with dinosaurs, cavemen, bronze age civilizations and blonde caveprincesses in furkinis. Add to this the cold war competition going on at the time. Indeed the competition to establish bases on these worlds make for a more peaceful world. Neither side has the money or time to carry on the cold war. Southeast Asia was peacefully resolved and the last Arab-Israeli war in ’67 ended with both superpowers imposing a peace and now the Middle East is described as a peaceful backwater. This seems like a reasonable outcome if Venus and Mars were inhabited. They two superpowers would have little money left to wage the cold war. This was a fun book done in the spirit of Burroughs. An exotic world with a quest, romance action and a mysterious alien race that created these worlds. A great start to a fascinating series.