Brian, presumed dead for 10 years, has returned to his friends with a compelling story. Wanting more than that, they demand hard facts; what they get is abduction and induction into an intergalactic army, with a good chance of being blown into space dust – a war, with reptilians from another dimension. Brian, along with John and Billy, develop a tool that could quickly win this round of the war, but who will believe them - junior officers with little education or experience in a hierarchy that is thousands of years old old?
Read alsoEthnicity and Nationalism
Ethnicity and nationalism are pervasive features of the contemporary world, but how far is ethnicity a result of cultural differences, and how much is it in fact dependent on the practical use…
Brian becomes a squadron leader of fighting "saucers" in the conservative Galactic Patrol. John to his great surprise becomes the main pilot of a fighting saucer also in the Patrol, in spite of being labeled a trouble maker. And Billy, who wants nothing more than to see some "action", is placed on the long track towards a command position in the semi-independent Special Forces. Their specific positions and experiences give them the keys to winning this phase of the war with the ancient race of Reptilians, but the military bureaucracy cannot accept their input, and at one point they have to decide whether or not to act alone and face the consequences of an inevitable prison sentence.
But the book is also about what it means to be in a long-lived society, where five hundred years is just an average lifespan, and your great, great grandfather could be your commanding officer, where medicine has conquered all illnesses and most accidents, and there is even the possibility of quickly reviving the recently dead.
Also, the League has many races of humans with diverse customs and opinions, and with different economic levels and systems. In spite of this, they need to cooperate somehow to maintain a civilization beset with many enemies, such as saucer mobile pirates and sentient "animals", besides the cold arrogant Reptilians who still see all humanoids as perspective slaves or lunch.
This is a story of the possible, and not a depressing tale of a dystopia or a naïve story of a utopia. The League has good and bad just as our world has; the main difference is a higher technology, one that could be ours in a hundred years or so at the rate our science is progressing.
It is also a psychological tale of three good friends who don't always get along, who still carry baggage of anger and resentments from their mutual childhood relationship; but when all is at stake, their friendship is the glue that keeps everything together.
Of the three friends John has the hardest time, for as Brian explains to Billy, "I've tried to explain reality to John but he doesn't believe in it." Well, can we blame John when reality out there is that of instant jumps of millions of light years, of reviving the (recently) dead, of telepathic spies and psychic assassins, as well as all the prejudices, snobbery, tensions and jealousies that humans have always had as part default behaviors?
All these factors are spun into a story often tense but sometimes funny, which is the beginning of a saga of the coming of age of the main characters as well as that of League civilization as it is pitted again and again against the ancient civilization of the Reptilians. The Reps are not cartoon figures or monsters, but are individuals with reasoning powers and great technological advances. Some of them are actually rebelling against their ancient repressive system, and in the next books of the series we enter into their intimate environment and experience their reality and the reality of humans who live in secret freedom in the midst of one of their most powerful planets.