The Alliance and the Pan Humanic Hegemony have been playing 'The Great Game' of empire for centuries since they split over admitting alien races into the alliance. The Alliance has been able to limit the supply of strategic materials going into the Hegemony but this advantage collapses when the Hegemony finds a failed star between its territory and the mineral-rich world of Al-Miraj – an alliance world. Allying itself with the historically poorest of the three nations who share Al-Miraj, the Hegemony hopes not only to gain access to these minerals, but also to deny them to the alliance, neatly switching the strategic advantage.
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The radical Islamic Republic knows that the Hegemony intends to use it – and has no intention of being used. Rather, they intend to use the Hegemony, hoping that they can not only secure control over their planet from the richer nations they share it with, but eventually to extend their reach back to the old world, to Mecca.
Learning that the Hegemony is up to something, the Alliance sends Commodore Malcolm Cristobal, with a small task force, to make sure the Alliance's interests are preserved. But the Alliance and the Hegemony are technically not at war and the Alliance is forbidden to interfere (much) in the internal affairs of its member nations – even if those internal affairs include one nation being armed by the Hegemony and attempting to take over. Of course, there are limits to non-interference in the Great Game. Accompanying Cristobal are his new wife, Lt. Commander and intelligence officer Meaghan O'Brien, Marine Colonel Daffyd Jones, and a pair of young midshipmen from the Alliance's academy undergoing their trial by fire.
Author C. Scott Saylors's story retains a human side, even as massive starships are brought into play against one another. Each of the parties in the battle, Cristobal and his allies, Hegemony Admiral Rickerts, even the terrorists seeking their own objectives in the 'House of Saud' (one of the three nations of Al-Miraj) are humanized and largely sympathetic.
Fans of David Weber (especially his Honor Harrington series) or John Ringo will welcome this exciting addition to the world of military science fiction.