Military SF, of course. What else could a collaboration between Weber (the Honor Harrington series, etc.) and Ringo (A Hymn Before Battle, 2000) be? Plots swirl about Alexandra VII, Empress of Man, and the numerous members of the royal family, including young, sulky Prince Roger. Alexandra, who doesn’t trust Roger, decides to send the youth on a state visit to a distant planet as various plots come to the boil. Roger embarks on a troop carrier accompanied by top-notch marines. But the ship’s sabotaged and, heavily damaged, veers into a system occupied by the hostile eco-religious-fanatic Saints. While the ship’s crew remains to engage enemy warships, the marines and Roger flee down onto the planet. The marines’ task: protect Roger, cross thousands of miles of broiling, humid planet swarming with voracious alien life forms—not to mention huge, barbaric, four-armed natives—capture an enemy base and escape. The action’s nonstop, with plenty of Machiavellian plotting involving the natives. Will Roger come out of his sulk and show some real backbone? And as the marines’ losses mount, ammo runs short, and their high-tech weapons fail in the demanding conditions, will they have enough muscle left to tackle the enemy base if and when they finally arrive?
Tactically exciting if strategically predictable, and, despite the doorstopper length, only half a book: a conclusion is promised. Your move.