Vanguard by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Vanguard is the first book in the third trilogy of novels in the Ark Royal series by Christopher G. Nuttall and basically if you liked the first six then it's a no brainer to read the seventh. The novel is set a few years after the ending of the British/Indian conflict over the planet and alien culture of the Vesy star system. The formal alliance/treaty with the "tadpoles" holds strong but is put to the test when a human ship detects a third intelligent race during a recon down an unexplored tramline. This new world is much closer to Tadpole Prime and the two space powers launch a joint first contact mission (heavily armed) but it does not go well. Humanities second intergalactic war has begun against an enemy who have no apparent interest in communicating and what little intelligence is gathered seems to indicate that the humans and their tadpole allies may be facing at least two cooperating races.
The main character in this novel could be argued to be the brand new British battleship "Vanguard" which is on it's maiden flight and will see her first action in this war, her first officer has vanished and his replacement Commander Susan Onarina is dropped in at the deep end and having to learn a brand new ship, vastly extended area of responsibilities and deal with new crew and familiar faces. The story is as you would expect heavy on setup and character introductions before the action really starts but then it doesn't let up, large scale fleet battles combine with interpersonal conflicts to provide an entertaining novel.
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