March Upcountry (Empire of Man Book One)
March to the Sea (Empire of Man Book Two)
David Weber and John Ringo, 2001
This is a re-read for me, because I recently realized that I had the series in ebook format from a CD that came with another book.
Premise: Nobody thinks Prince Roger, third son of the Empress, is much of a prince, or much of a decent human being. Of course, with a political traitor for a father, no one has ever given him the benefit of the doubt either, and that includes the marines that form his bodyguard. But when sabotage means their ship is grounded on a low-tech planet full of warring aliens, Roger has a chance to grow up fast, and if he does, everyone has a chance to get off the rock alive.
One of main the reasons this series amuses me is that it's like a simplified history of warfare overlaid on an action-oriented sci-fi story. The marines start out with sci-fi weaponry: powered armor and plasma guns, but the humid climate soon damages their equipment. Between the need to keep themselves and their charge safe and the need to make allegiances with some of the cities and tribe they come upon, the humans pull from their history, eventually introducing everything from Roman spear-and-shield tactics to breech-loading rifles to better sailing ships.
It's a military sci-fi series, and yeah there's a little the-military-is-always-awesome vibe now and again, but it's more even handed than some others. (I love military sci-fi, but I get a little sick of plots where the non-military characters are always the idiots or the weaklings or the bad guys. Original Star Trek actually did this a surprising amount with its level of hatred for bureaucrats.)
This series has a strong ensemble of characters, all of whom get some time in the limelight. I don't always keep everyone straight, but I don't feel like it's a major flaw here.
I like the second one a bit more than the first; I think the politics and the character interactions are stronger. Overall, these are pretty darn fun to read.
March Upcountry – 3 Stars – A Good Book
March to the Sea – 4 Stars – A Really Good Book
These books are available for FREE on Baen.com
March to the Sea