cover image Trial by Fire

Trial by Fire

Charles E. Gannon. Baen, $15 trade paper (640p) ISBN 978-1-4767-3664-8

Gannon’s whiz-bang second Tales of the Terran Republic interstellar adventure delivers on the promise of the first (Fire with Fire). When Caine Riordan is made a figurehead in the rapidly evolving interactions between Terrans and the exosapients of the Accord, he becomes a target for repeated, violent objections to his position. Constant shuttling between the raw urgency of guerrilla warfare, the deadly dance of interspecies diplomacy, and grand, sweeping, full-scale interstellar fleet combat keeps the pace hectic without confusing the reader. The charm of Caine’s harrowing adventure lies in Gannon’s attention to detail, which keeps the layers of political intrigue and military action from getting too dense. The dozens of key characters, multiple theaters of operations, and various alien cultures all receive the appropriate amount of attention. The satisfying resolution is enhanced by the promise of more excitement to come in this fascinating far-future universe. (Aug.)