Kevin J. Anderson
Orbit, Dec 2007, $25.99
The Terran Hanseatic League known as Hansa, the Ildiran Empire and the recently formed Confederation of Hansa (former colonies of the failing Terran Hanseatic League) struggle to survive while fighting one another. The three groups know they need to forge an alliance as they have external threats to their respective security.
However none of the leaders want to be accused of taking the first step towards forging an alliance as no one trusts the others to adhere to any pact. Instead they each continue to go it alone with some military resources diverted to keep the other two empires in check. Separately they struggle against runaway robots, strange intelligent fire beings and worst an insectoid race that has pandemic plans to eradicate all humans on planets found in all three spheres that they consider theirs. Failure to unite means extinction in many sectors of the universe.
The latest intergalactic interspecies hostilities outer space thriller is fast-paced and exciting, but has too much going on making it difficult to keep up with the zillion subplots especially for newcomers. Still the exhilarating story line is filled with plenty of non-stop action. Though no character stands out (there are almost as many key players as there are insectoid), fans of the series will enjoy the METAL SWARM of killer robots, fire creatures and the bugs as humanity stands on the brink of extinction in some places due to species cleansing if they fail to forge an alliance between distrusting enemies.