on January 3rd 2017
Narrator: Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 14 hrs 45 min
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Siobhan Dunmoore was not having a good war. She’s had more ships shot out from under her by the invading Shrehari Empire than any other officer in the Fleet. Some called her overly aggressive. Others simply called her reckless. What the enemy called her was something else altogether. That she gave the Shrehari a good drubbing along the way didn’t matter in the least, because not all her enemies wore an Imperial uniform. A reputation for bad luck was pretty much the only reputation she had left.
Sailing yet another ruined starship home after a near defeat, she wanted nothing more than a long, long rest, because this time, she had escaped by the thinnest of bluffs. Unfortunately, the Admiralty had other ideas. The frigate Stingray was known as the unluckiest ship in the Fleet and her Captain had just been removed in disgrace for cowardice. Some in the Admiralty would dearly love to retire the old warhorse. After all, she was the last of her type left in service, and perhaps it was time to break up the jinx permanently, along with the crew. But in the midst of an interstellar war, every ship that could fight was needed. In short order, Dunmoore went from staring down the Empire’s finest on the bridge of a wrecked battleship to taking on a demoralized, semi-mutinous crew, scheming Admirals and a deadly mystery. Stingray’s bad luck wasn’t just superstition gone rampant. Between a crew that won't talk, political enemies who want her gone, and her personal demons, she's got her hands full. Taking the frigate into battle under those conditions would seem foolish to anyone else, but Dunmoore was never one to shrink from a good fight. Failure was not an option, and defeat not an acceptable alternative, for there was no honor in death, only in victory. She would redeem herself and her ship or be damned for all eternity.
Note I listened to an audiobook presentation so character spelling doesn’t count.
If you like Star Trek, you should definitely give this series a try. I should indicate that any similarities to Star Trek are very loosely based since the only things that were truly similar were certain points where there was lucky escapes. Instead of Star Trek’s science vessel, Stingray is a military ship.
Humans are in a war against the Shrehari. We offered them peace and they looked down at us lesser beings and declared war, but they are finding that it is quite difficult to defeat us.
Siohban Dunmoore was first officer on the Victoria Regina when her friend and Captain is killed during a battle against one of the Shrehari’s most powerful commanders, Brical of the Tolvikash. With so much damage to the ship, Siobhan takes command and decides to ram her ship into the Shrehari’s destroyer rather than wait to destroyed by the next blast. Since the Shrehari also sustained damage, Brical decides to leave rather than blast the Victoria Regina one final time. He even hails the ship and acknowledges the now deceased Captain and Siohban as worthy adversaries.
Upon returning to the nearest space station, Siohban is given the command of the Stingray. The other admirals wanted to decommission the “jinxed” ship and reassign her crew, but Admiral Negira is a supporter of Siobhan and her unorthodox fighting abilities and gives her the ship.
But Siobhan has her work cut out for her. The former captain, a woman who was a classmate of Siobhan, was given the command for her family connections rather then her abilities to command a ship. Her crew has been demoralized and since the former captain is up on charges, the crew fears retribution if they answer any of Siobhan’s many, many questions of how the ship was run, including the First Officer Gregor Pushkin, who had hoped that he would be given the command. At first she thinks they are simply evasive once she finds out that the former captain ignored the distress call of the Victoria Regina and the crew doesn’t want to admit that they turned away and let Siobhan’s crew die but there might be much more going on.
Not only is there no cohesiveness to the crew, someone is trying to make sure her ship can’t make her deadline to arrive at the border. Siobhan pulls out the stop to get the ship ready and get the crew back into fighting shape, and they begin to hesitantly hope for future of Stingray.
When they are ready, she takes them into enemy territory. Knowing that the Shrehari are very regimented in their tactics, she is looking for a caravan of soldiers and supplies. She stalks it like a jungle cat on prey waiting for it to come out of its hyperjump, but she isn’t the only one stalking. Commander Brical knows that the sneaky humans will use their stringent protocols against them and he is stalking the caravan as well waiting for someone to take a shot.
I enjoyed watching the Stingray’s crew come together and learn to trust their new captain to keep them safe both from the dangers of the Shrehari as well as their own navy. I also liked that as we met Siobhan and spent time with Brical, these two might have been friends if they were not at war. There was a lot of similarity between the human navy and the Shrehari. The privileged getting commands when they haven’t earn them. Their own navy putting spies on the ship. Brical also fought against his own Admirals against their need to use a rule book at all times. He tries to get them to see that the humans are very creative in their fighting and that they humans will win the war unless the Shrehari can out strategize them.
I enjoyed the audiobook. Eric Michael Summerer did a great job of providing different voices to everyone and you could easily follow who was talking. It could have used some special effects though. I am sure they could have found starship sound effect buttons somewhere.
I am interested to see what happens now that the crew is behind Siobhan.
“Your guns working fine, Rounds?”
“Oh, aye, Sir. I maintain them myself and they are always ready to blast away at the fucking Imps. Though to be honest,” she scratched the top of her head, “there’s a couple of parts close to needing replacement. Wear and tear, you see. This baby moves fast when it is tracking the target, and that’s hard of them mechanical parts. I’ve had to do a few fixes myself with the old pieces to keep her goin’.”
“Have you reported this to the gunnery officer?”
“Aye, Sir. I did three months ago, and three months afore that, and when we were getting ready to sail this time. I got a few things from your raid of the starbase stores,” she grinned, “and put them in, but a lot is still backordered.
Siobhan frowned, leaning on the massive breach of the left tube, she crossed her arms below her breasts. “You haven’t been getting the parts from the tender runs?”
“Nope. Mr. Duvall made sure to check whenever we got topped up, but always lots of stuff missing, and not only from my little babies.” Rounds patted the other tube possessively.
“Yes,” Siobhan mused, locking eyes with rounds. “A lot of strange things going on aboard Stingray under Commander Forenza.
Banger snorted. “You don’t know the half of it, Sir.” Then when she saw the curious look in Siobhan’s eyes, her expression changed, and she realized she betrayed herself. Rounds glanced at Deminova but she kept a stony face.
“Want to tell me about it, Rounds?” Siobhan softly asked. “I am getting tired of living under the oath of silence. You’re an old space hand. You know it’s no way to run a ship in a war zone.”
Again, Banger glanced at Demi, but this time the younger woman shrugged.
Slowly. Keeping hard eyes on the Captain, Rounds shifted positions to lean against the breach of the left hand tube, facing Siobhan and crossed her arms. Then she jerked her head at Deminova. “Close the access hatch, Demi.”
She complied silently, and then resumed her place near the ladder. “Okay, Captain. You want to know what went on aboard before you took her? I’ll tell you because you’re right, ain’t no way to run a ship by treating the Captain like a leper. And you did right by Vince, I mean, Able Spacer Vincenzo, and that means a lot to me. He’s a good friend and reliable mate.”
Siobhan didn’t reply, but kept her eyes locked with Bangers.
“You want to know what life was like under Ferenza? I’ll tell you, Captain. It sure as shit wasn’t like what life is supposed to be in the navy.” Round took a deep breath. “Captain Ferenza liked her ease, and didn’t like getting her hands dirty. She lived like a Goddamned Queen in her cabin, fucking just about any crew member she got the hots for, and believe me, she got lots of hots. If you didn’t want to do it, she threatened you. Some got scared, some didn’t. Those who got scared, got to participate in some strange doings, let me tell you. Oh, yeah, Captain,” Rounds said, seeing the look of distaste on Siobhan’s face. “You ain’t seen nothing like it. Even on some of the less respectable ships I was on in my tradin’ days.
“I’ve been on this here ship for nearly two years,” Banger continued. Anger beginning to feed her words, and in all that time, we must have run one battle drill a month, if that, and we haven’t seen a bleeding Imp in over six months. You see, Captain Ferenza was a fucking coward too. Like most bullies. She got yellow whenever there was a tossup in the wind. She also never made an inspection tour. Never took a good look at the insides of her ship, and at her crew, and never said a kind word to anyone. At least outside the bedroom that is. Mr. Pushkin was doing all the work and getting damn all credit for it. Hell, I even saw Ferenza tear a strip off him in public once. Only officer the bitch got along with was Mr. Shara. The others hated her guts.” Rounds shook her head in disguest. “Hell. This fucking ship would have seen a mutiny last New Year’s Day if Ferenza didn’t have her little spies on the lower deck. But she was a great one for keeping people in line. Ruined a few careers I know of. She was a bully but went through with her threats. Connections, Captain. Good ones. And there was nothing you could do about it. Ferenza had her nose so deep up Admiral Koleri’s ass, she could get anything she wanted. A crew member transferred to a shithole outpost,” Rounds snapped her fingers. “Done. A crew member discharged because he crossed her.” She snapped her fingers again. “Done. Even though it was nothing but a pack of lies. Ain’t no one who stood up to Ferenza who got a fair shake. Even worse, Captain,” the ruddy faced gunner paused and glanced at Deminova before continuing in a softer tone.
“Four guys offed themselves on this ship in the last six months. Four. And every one of them as they were caught in Ferenza’s hell. One of them, a kid officer called Rashid, who couldn’t have been a day over twenty-one, shot himself in the head cause Ferenza was about to put him up on false charges. He knew the charges would stick and couldn’t face the disgrace. Came from a poor colonist family. First one who passed through the Academy and became an officer. No, Captain. I don’t know why Ferenza wanted to get rid of him, but the kid was a good sort. Would have made a decent gunnery officer some day.”
Siobhan felt nauseous at Rounds’ all too convincing tale.