Review of Path to the Night Mountains by J. E. Bruce
Coalition/Orthodoxy Universe #2
BooksForABuck.com, September 2015
The alliance between the human-led Coalition and the mysterious mercenary Hahtooshans might just save both races... but there are plenty, on both sides, who feel that it's a disaster in the making. Considering that the Hatooshans were the biggest boogie-men in human history and the Hahtooshans feel that humans simply cannot help themselves from lying, it's no surprise that some of the opposition is willing to take extreme measures. When radicals attempt to kill the medical team searching for a cure to the human diseases that threaten to wipe out the Hahtooshans, kidnap Sirin, the woman married to a Hahtooshan, and abduct the Hahtooshan landing party left behind on Rasal Ghul, it seems that the new-born alliance will self-destruct before it could really begin.
Hahtooshan battle leader Khusaaq has lost too many men already. Although his fellows proclaimed him as the 'hero of Cotopaxi," Khusaaq knows that his efforts only led to the destruction of a beautiful planet, its colony, and almost all his mercenary force. Now, the command he left behind on Rasal Ghul has been taken... and he intends to bring them back. What he doesn't know is whether his own leaders in the Hahtooshan forces are behind him or the alliance he forged with the humans. Gradually it becomes apparent that the forces attempting to destroy the human/Hahtooshan alliance are more than just a few disgruntled colonists. But how high does their influence run?
Author J. E. Bruce (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of science fiction/fantasy by Bruce) continues her exploration of the Coalition/Orthodoxy Universe begun in STALKING THE APOCALYPSE with an exciting space adventure. Khusaaq continues to wrestle with his own demons, with the voices of the race that created his own and that continues to guide them, and with the constant opposition not only of humans but of his own race. Qar'qaah, whom Khusaaq left in charge of the Rasal Ghul crew, fights his feelings of inadequacy and failure... even when these feelings lead him toward destruction. The crew of the Coalition ship Baidarka is mostly behind Khusaaq but even there, extremists threaten the new alliance. I enjoy the way Bruce lets us see both the heroics but also the misguided efforts of these characters. Although there's plenty of cool technology, ultimately it's Bruce's characters that make this story special.
PATH TO THE NIGHT MOUNTAINS is an integral part of the Coalition/Orthodoxy Universe. It can, however, be read without the need to start with STALKING. Fans of thoughtful space adventure will definitely want to check out the entire series. Four Stars
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