Spacer Buck Fryman emerges from the local lockup with a dream and a plan. He'll go into business himself, as a space freighter. He'll take the dangerous routes, sail fast without waiting for the convoys normally needed for pirate protection, and if a pirate does decide to take him on, he'll prove that he's not just a barroom brawler, he can defend himself in space as well.
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Marine Second Lieutenant James Byerley is looking for some action in the seedy side. Instead, he finds a beautiful woman fighting off assailants. The coincidental meeting sets off a lifelong relationship as Byerley discovers he's stumbled onto a coup attempt and has rescued the crown princess.Rescuing the princess launches Byerley's…
A few years later, his fleet growing and his wealth enhanced by the many pirate ships he's captured, Buck is summoned before the emperor. While Buck's exploits have cut into some local piracy, the pirates are increasingly organized and effective. The emperor wants Buck to take charge of the anti-piracy efforts and even Buck doesn't dare say no the the emperor.
Handling the occasional pirate raid is one thing. Going after the source of the piracy is something else. Even with the empire's navy backing him up, Buck finds his hands full with Jarred Mahoney, former imperial intelligence minister and former leader of two worlds determined to use the pirates as his wedge to overthrow the empire and make himself emperor. Mahoney will stop at nothing, from loosing pirates on innocent freighters to bringing aliens back into conflict with humanity for the first time since the days of Contact.
Author Kenneth E. Ingle continues his exploration of the Contact universe with an exciting space adventure. Buck Fryman is a larger-than-life hero, applying his combination of finesse and brute force against a universe where he seems always outnumbered but never outsmarted. I liked that Ingle made Mahoney, his anti-hero, sympathetic as well as that man struggles to survive Buck's ever-present threat.
Fans of Ingle's Contact series will be happy to see the alien Kalazecis and Pagmok in action, as well as humanity's ongoing efforts to deal with the long life gene that set off human space exploration over a thousand years earlier.