Series: Siobhan Dunmoore #2
Published by Tantor Audio on July 20th 2017
Narrator: Eric Michael Summerer
Length: 12 hrs 24 min
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Duty, honour, loyalty. What meaning did those words still hold in the midst of a stalemated interstellar war where the difference between the enemy and one’s own leadership was sometimes paper thin? Unfairly relegated to punishment duty far from the battle lines and still pursued by her past, Siobhan Dunmoore was ordered to sail her ship deep into pirate-infested space on a quest to restore the Navy’s reputation after she failed to stop an attack that destroyed a civilian freighter. There, she hoped to find clues that might absolve the crew of the Stingray from blame but instead, she was sucked into a vortex of intrigue and treachery that threatened not only all of their lives, but the future of the embattled Commonwealth. In the midst of competing schemes for supremacy, fending off marauders, mercenaries and spies, Dunmoore had to find a way to get her people home safe and beyond the reach of powerful cabals that had burrowed their way deep into the heart of the Admiralty. If her ship was to survive, she had to find the path of duty, no matter the personal cost, even if the price she had to pay was her own existence.
I listened to an audiobook so spelling doesn’t count.
Captain Siohban Dunmoore and her crew of the Stingray are now working together flawlessly. They have bonded and the crew have come to trust their new captain after the abuse of power by their former captain.
When the Stingray answers the distress call of a disabled ship, she finds the Nico Maru abandoned by its crew, the memory banks wiped and the ship suddenly rigged to explode. The away team and the Stingray barely make it away from the exploding ship before they become part of the wreckage and are being blamed by the Black Nova Corp. for failing to recover the ship and its crew. They want Stingray’s held accountable, and with enough friends in high places who already hate Siobhan, the Stingray finds itself being stuck with the task of babysitting a merchant convoy through the badlands of the outer sector of space, several of whom are part of the Black Nova shipping line.
Things go sideways when the convoy makes it first stop and the Stingray recognizes two ships in orbit that they saw running from the abandoned Nico Maru. Stingray goes stealthy and follows them back to a planatoid far out from the Commonwealth being mined under the command of Admiral Corwin. Admiral Corwin then commandeers the Stringray to protect his operation which apparently is a top secret navy operation looking for ancient Shrihari artifacts and supposed weapons of mass destruction which will help the Commonwealth win the war against the Shrihari.
Corwin has Siobhan training his mercs to work with her in protecting the planet until intel comes in about a Reever Nest (pirates) and they go off to attack and retrieve items stolen from Admiral Corwin. Once the attack begins, Siobhan and the crew start to doubt the Admiral as those on the grounds don’t fight back like hardened criminals, and there does not appear to be any criminal activity going on. Did they attack a Reever base or did they just attack a Black Nova merchant base making the Stingray the pirate?
But the attack has made Corwin decide to trust Siobhan with his real purpose, which is Operation Valkyrie. Valkyrie is supposedly a secret mission of the top Navy officials planning a coup upon the government of the Commonwealth, by invading Earth’s defenses. Corwin uses the name of Admiral Nagira many times, who is Siobhan’s mentor, so she doesn’t know what to think of what is happening. Is Corwin bloated on his own self importance out in this backwater world and creating a delusional coup or is the Navy higher ups really planning a secret attack on its own government?
It doesn’t take her and her officers long to realize that no matter what the Crew of Stingray is screwed. If they don’t go along with the plan, and it is a real plot, abandoning Corwin is mutiny and going to Nagira would mean the end of the Stringray crew for knowing too much, and if they do go along with the attack on Earth, they will be seen as the rebels and either destroyed outright or court-marshaled for the attack. Stingray will end up being the scapegoat for Valkyrie.
Really — missing crews, exploding ships, using mercs instead of navy personnel and admirals with mysterious and highly classified orders? After everything that happened in the first book with admirals, captains and the secret service having their own smuggling ring, I don’t know why they didn’t take Admiral Corwin’s orders with a little more distrust. The saying is “Once bitten, Twice shy”, Siobhan.
While in the end her plan is brilliant, I believe the fact that Stringray has taken more “hits” from the Commonwealth than the Shrihari is both disheartening to the reader as well as the crew. And while Stringray may have sidestepped this shitstorm, there are still those in power who are still trying to get rid of them. At least the good news is that the admiralty will probably send them back into the riskier heart of the battle and they will at least be fighting against an enemy they are free to fight back.
I still think that after the war is over Siobhan and Brical, the Shrihari captain, should go on a date. They would make a perfect couple, both unhappy with their own leaderships.