First, juiceless, installment of a space opera trilogy from Clark, a pseudonym for David Wellington (The Cyclops Initiative, 2015, etc.), author of zombie, vampire, werewolf, and action thriller series.
Star Wars meets The Seven Samurai in this far-future galaxy where only Earth maintains a space navy and the space lanes are riven by wars between interstellar corporations, or “polys”—none of which have any interest in the barely habitable, backwater planet Niraya. So when it’s brutally attacked by insensate machines from who knows where, the religious, contemplative inhabitants send representatives Roan and Elder McRae to the Hexus space station to plead for help. Luckily, 300-year-old ex–space navy pilot Aleister Lanoe has pursued his quarry, the young murderer Thom, there. Lanoe rescues the naïve Nirayans from the clutches of treacherous ex-navy conman Auster Maggs and agrees to help their cause. Both Thom (extenuating, if not exonerating, circumstances) and Maggs (no choice—he’s a deserter) sign up. Also joining the venture will be Lanoe’s ex-shipmates Caroline Ehta (her guilty secret is she has PTSD and can’t fly), Bettina Zhang (Lanoe’s wannabe flame), and legendary hero Tannis Valk, severely injured fighting on the opposite side to Lanoe in the last corporate conflict and now working space traffic control. The usual complications, heroics, and surprises ensue, all professionally packaged and produced and entirely unmemorable.
Does anyone need to read this? No. Will anyone want to? Shrug. Maybe on the beach.