Evan Gabriel is a top-notch decorated Navy Commander in the North American Federation in the Earth’s near-distant future. When his special-forces team suffers catastrophic losses and a botched mission, he is dishonorable discharged. Gabriel retreats to the remotest part of the jungle he can find. Not remote enough, however. He is pressed back into service by Admiral McFarland to help stop the extermination of a native species on the ice-planet Poliahu. During the long space ride, he must bond with a new team and plan the mission tactics. But, things are not so straightforward; Commander Gabriel has not been told everything. There are criminal forces at work behind the mission who stand to benefit if the mission fails. Evan must figure out who is working against him before he loses another special-forces team under his command.
The author weaves a futuristic action-adventure story full of twists and turns. The world he creates is rich in detail and full of advanced technology: pulse weapons, neurotic brain implants, wormholes, inter-stellar travel, everything a scifi fan could hope for. We first meet Gabriel hiding out in a Jamaican slum. He is haunted by nightmares, reliving his failed mission over and over again. If only…has become his mantra.
He takes the new mission to prove he is a competent commander. But prove it to whom? The NAF? Or himself? I could feel Evan’s pain, his sense of honor and commitment; kudos to Mr. Umstead for writing with such passion. I would have liked to see more of Evan’s character revealed, but I guess I’ll have to read the sequel. The other characters, Sowers, Jimenez, St. Laurent, Takahashi and Brevik, are nicely fleshed-out, but I have to say I have a soft spot for the sentient creatures, especially Isaiah, on planet Poliahu.
I highly recommend this story to anyone who likes science fiction, especially military scifi. With non-stop action, especially at the end of the book, it’s a page-turner and a quick read.