After reading Into the Stars and loving it, and then reading Into the Battle and having decidedly mixed feelings about it, I turned to Into the War with an odd mixture of excitement, curiosity, and skepticism. On one hand, the first in the series was a marvelous story that brought exploring and conquering the stars to life quite well. On the other, the second, while having a reasonably good story, lacked the engaging and excellent writing style of Rosone’s other books; the language was bland and uninteresting in parts, which seriously detracted from the novel.
Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised by Into the War. While the vocabulary within it could be expanded, most all the errors from Into the Battle were fixed and the storyline was beyond brilliant.
In this entry to the series, the war between the humans and their allies ticks up a notch. After a series of brutal, casualty-heavy orbital assaults, a series of allied worlds are recovered from the vicious alien species that held them. But, in the process, human forces are devastated by a new enemy and technical wonders they can’t hope to replicate. But, as all of us would like to imagine, the warlike and innovative spirit of the humans gives them an upper hand over their foes, allowing them to achieve a few tactical victories.
However, Rosone doesn’t take the novel where one would expect after those large but relatively unimportant (this is a multi-galaxy war, after all) victories. Rather than continue to push the action toward the gradual build-up one would expect, where gradual victories attrit away the strength of the enemy like the 1916-17 battles on the Western Front, Rosone takes it in an entirely new direction. In his imagination, humanity has learned from the endless, attrition-focused wars of the past and decides to focus on major victories rather than endless combat, much to the consternation of their allies.
That decision send Admiral Hunt, one of the two main protagonists of the series, into the heart of the Galactic Empire humanity has become a part of as part of the war to rid the Milky Way of the evil Zodarks and Orbots. Fighting a socialist, hive-mind alien race pushes humanity to achieve more, and do so faster, than would have been previously thought possible. Cities are built, massive armies are raised, and fleets are constructed that will let humanity win in a way that its allies can’t.
But even that twist, one I wasn’t expecting but very much liked, isn’t what makes Into the War so great. What sets it apart is Rosone’s imagination, one that rivals even Heinlein or Asimov.
I don’t want to give too much away. The surprise of the plot must be kept someone secret to remain interesting and enticing to the reader, especially in novels such as these.
However, if you’re still unsure of whether you want to get into this series or not, especially if you’re not normally into science fiction, just imagine what you think space travel would look like if we had a few hundred years to focus almost exclusively on it. What wonders would we construct, what marvels of engineering would we build?
With the introduction of a race of hyper-advanced aliens, the Gallentines, into the series, Rosone predicts what that might look like. Hundreds of space elevators connecting to a world-spanning docking station. Cities covering the entirety of a world. Portable wormholes. Multiple-kilometer-long spaceships carrying fleets of starfighters and tens of thousands of soldiers. Just extrapolate from there to imagine what other amazing feats we could achieve if given the time to do so.
Those ideas, rooted in reality and current ideas about how space travel and construction might work but undeniably imaginative, are what make Into the War so fun to read and interesting. I can’t recommend it highly enough.