The Terran Privateer – Book One of the Duchy of Terra
I read this book a couple of years ago and while I’ve been on a bit of a LitRPG quest recently, I recently came back to this universe with Shadows of the Fall (Duchy of Terra Book 8) which was quite enjoyable. I thought, however, that before we get into what happened in that book, it made sense to explain everything that had come before so you had a full and complete grounding.
In the Terran Privateer, the Earth is on the brink of a technological renaissance with the discovery of inertialess hyperspeed drives, and compressed matter armor. However, this discovery puts them square in the crosshairs of the universe at large which they realize when an alien armada destroys the UESF (United Earth Space Force) and takes control of the Earth.
While this occupying force is a self-proclaimed benevolent race, the remaining government of the Earth determines their only hope is with Captain Annette Bond. Bond commands the Tornado – Earth’s only experimental hyperspace cruiser & provided with a letter of marque, she sets off to find allies and technology that she can take back to Earth to help remove the occupying force.
Written by Glynn Stewart, the Terran Privateer is a much more ambitious story and universe than the one that I previously read in his book Space Carrier Avalon. In this universe, there are a host of different aliens, each with their own motivations and desires, and the Earth is almost an afterthought to the larger struggles at play.
While there are other bit characters around, from the old French Admiral to the lonely tech genius, this story is all about the lonely Captain Annette Bond and her struggles to save Earth from the perceived tyranny of alien occupation.
Her story actually starts before the invasion when we learn that she was drummed out of the service by other officers when she tried to bring a rapist to justice. While a bit heavy-handed, it does serve to give her a bit of justification and validation, but it is sad that none of the other officers backed her as it’s hard to believe a worldwide navy would allow such corruption to continue.
Now, while I stated the story is all about Captain Bond, I might have been fibbing just a bit. When we talk about important characters, we cannot afford to ignore the alien occupiers themselves. As the story progresses we learn that the A’Tol Imperium truly is benevolent. While they might be occupying Earth, they do so in some respects to help keep humanity safe. For along with the A’Tol, another race of slave trading aliens is also on Earth’s doorstep.
When discussing the aliens of the A’Tol – one we get exposed to over the course of many books is K’Tana. Her introduction helps us understand the A’Tol in a way that would otherwise be impossible. While her inclusion is convenient as a plot device and guide, it is also well done and I can excuse it due to her unique circumstances.
The overall idea of the story is quite good. Earth being taken over by aliens and a single, lone starship captain forced to find a way to help remove the heel of the alien oppressors sounds interesting.
As we gradually learn more about the A’Tol and their inability to lie along with the other aliens in the universe at large, the underlying story becomes even more interesting. In some ways it echo’s the challenges of Battlestar Galactica but perhaps with a mix of Mos Eisley added to it.
As we continue to learn more about the technology and the differences between the core and rimward empires, new mysteries and puzzles are introduced. Bond and her crew do seem to navigate these waters with a bit more aplomb than you’d expect of the first humans to meet aliens, however, I’m willing to give that a pass. Also, the characterizations and motivations of the aliens and how “human” they are, might be a bit too generic also. There were no real motivations that would not make sense to us which was I believe a real miss.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this book – I’ve read quite a few of Glynn’s books over the years that I hope to review in future posts and this series is one that I’ve enjoyed through 8 books and counting.
I will say that there are some elements of risk that I feel is missing from the book. I do not think any of the key characters are ever really in danger and Tornado itself seems to gradually become a Mary Sue in its own right as she continues to get upgraded and more powerful. In fact, while in the early stages she would struggle to defeat a single vessel from the A’Tol imperium, by the latter stages of the book, she’s become quite capable of defeating a small task force on her own.
In the early stages, you’d think this series somewhat similar to Weber’s Honor Harrington books, but you get quickly disabused of that notion in a positive manner. Weber spends chapters and even books on character and world-building which can become excessively tedious. Fortunately, that is not the case here. The book starts off with some decent action and that trend continues throughout.
This book does however offer a bit too easy a path for Annette Bond and her crew though as they quickly stumble across an interpreter and guide. A guide that is able to surprisingly take them to the only place in the quadrant able to upgrade their ship and help them retake Earth. This giant space station hidden away from sight is the Tortuga of space and has technology that can magically retrofit and upgrade Tornado into a force worth reckoning.
As with any good adventure story there are a few twists and turns along the ride but I have to say that the surprise at the end was…well…surprising. There are some overtones of LGBTQ preaching in the book, but in all honesty that didn’t really bother me too much. With the way the world is right now, I don’t really have an issue with it except perhaps to say the sexual natures of any of the characters are somewhat inconsequential to the story as a whole. Having that information in the story did nothing to either add or detract from the story in my opinion.[yasr_multiset setid=1]