Military science fiction from newcomer Hunt, something like Honor Harrington flavored with Babylon 5. For more than 60 years, humanity has been at war with the xenophobic bird-mammal zor. Defeated in every engagement, the zor sign peace treaties that they then ignore; they even attack civilian settlements. Exasperated, Emperor Alexander engages retired Admiral Lord Marais, an expert on the zor, to take command of the highly politicized Space Navy (rich aristocrats can buy their commissions) and defeat the enemy by whatever means necessary. At first dubious of their new desk-warming commander-in-chief, Commodore Sergei Torrijos and his captains are soon won over by Marais and his ideas: the zor, guided by the prescient dreams of their High Lord, believe that they cannot coexist with humans and will continue to fight regardless of circumstances. Marais proposes to either force the zor to surrender or exterminate them; he doesn’t care which. When his tactics prove successful, back home ambitious political opponents cry genocide and demand Marais’s recall. He ignores all such orders and so lays himself open to charges of mutiny and the threat of a court-martial. The zor, meantime, show that they’re not completely impervious to the situation, while aboard Sergei’s flagship lurks a mysterious being with godlike powers and an agenda that bodes ill for both races.
A thoughtful debut, reassuringly familiar in shape with glints of originality and intriguing if one-dimensional aliens: Satisfyingly complete in itself, though expertly set up for sequels.