Book Title: Serpent’s Fury: A Space Opera Noir Technothriller – The SynCorp Saga: Empire Earth, Book 3
Publication Date: August 5, 2019
Available on: Amazon as an eBook
Indie Athenaeum Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Immediately after the events of “Masada’s Gate”, SynCorp’s heads are in disarray. Tony Taulke has been captured, Adrianna Rabh is trying to retake control of Valhalla Station, Gregor Erkennen is working on a way to stop Cassandra and Ruben Qinlao is trying to rescue Tony! Cassandra has plans to make an example of Tony using the media to put him on trial and, in the process, her horrifying ultimate agenda is revealed. Can all the heads of SynCorp come together, go on the offensive and stop Cassandra and her Soldiers of the Solar Revolution (SSR) before she enacts her insidious plan?
SynCorp has plenty of help Stacks Fischer and Bekah Franklin, who head to the Moon to develop a crucial part of SynCorp’s plan, as they must find a way to stop Cassandra herself. Since she is part artificial intelligence and part human, conventional methods to take her down are unlikely to work. Meanwhile, Qinlao and his partner are stranded on the Darkside of the Moon with Tony Taulke’s son, nicknamed “Junior”. With no resources, they must find their way to Earth to save Junior’s father.
Adrianna has returned from hiding along with Edith Birch, both of whom we haven’t seen since the first novel in this trilogy. Both of whom demonstrate some personal evolution as old secrets come to light and they partner up to try to expel the SSR from Valhalla Station. After that, they must try to gather their disparate forces together with Erkennen to eliminate Cassandra.
We also meet a new character, Trace Anderson, who’s a thirteen-year-old boy working in the Northeastern Farming Collective in Pennsylvania. His mother is addicted to Dreamscape and along with others and their farming has stopped as a result. But when a tragedy strikes, Cassandra herself takes an interest in him. What offer does she make him that he can’t refuse?
This final novel in the trilogy perfectly balances the personal stories of each of its characters with the larger stakes of a galaxy at a tipping point between two opposing forces. It’s also placed in context within the larger scale of what’s going in on the galaxy at large with the different battle fleets enforcing the wills of their bosses.
The fleet battle above Earth is massive and utilizes surprises and unique strategy. But it’s the hand-to-hand battles on Earth that are the most violent and most heart-wrenching. How everyone has a part to play is only part of the fun watching as all the threads converge on Earth. The dazzling finale is an impressive series of battles, hand to hand combat skills, personal stakes, amazing turns, and unpredictable twists. I whistled out loud at how it all came together remarkably.
A few different plot threads are being woven together that all culminate into a frenetic conflict between fleets of opposing forces while SynCorp’s agents in New York City battle with Cassandra for the fate of a galaxy. Each character gets a moment to shine and to demonstrate their mettle and their motivations. It was hard to pick a favorite character here, as everyone gets something important to do and plays a role in how the finale plays out.
Cassandra’s final plan is quite devious and chilled me to the bone once it was revealed. It’s a malicious and evil scheme, as it has the potential to kill billions of people at once! The use of the science behind this plan was also exceptional, as I admired how the author used it and how it was based on real-world ideas.
This novel gives Ruben his best chance to shine out of all the novels he’s appeared in to date. Run down from the events of the previous two novels, he truly lives up to the responsibility that his deceased sister Ming gave him. He’s battle-hardened, highly skilled and is at his most brutal and efficient here.
Conscientious yet focused on his objective, he’s the soul of SynCorp, dedicated to saving Tony. His interactions with his partner and with Junior are interesting, as it’s a contrast of philosophy while still being united in their mission.
Bekah and Stacks are also an unusual pairing. Stacks is a SynCorp enforcer while Bekah’s reverence for life and respect of death. Brains and brawn prove to be better together here, as she’s constantly aware of the effects of violence and death that surround her.
Stacks is given plenty to do here but he really has a chance to demonstrate his skills in the rip-roaring final battle against Cassandra and her forces. His mission is the most critical of all of them and also the most personal, given his history with Cassandra and how he’s set on helping Daisy Brace, whom we haven’t seen in action since “Valhalla Station”.
There also is some setting up the final trilogy in the SynCorp series, which will take place a generation after the events depicted here. After seeing how this novel ended, the next trilogy should be very interesting with the new players on stage and seeing how the passage of time impacts the galaxy by that point.
I liked all the connections from this novel to earlier novels in this trilogy, as well as those to the previous trilogy. From the history developed in all five previous novels in the SynCorp Saga to the background of the characters, the attention to detail and past continuity is very appreciated by me.
This novel is the third in the “Empire Earth” trilogy, so it means no-holds-barred action in a winner-take-all battle as SynCorp marshals all its forces to take on Cassandra for control of the solar system once and for all. That means all bets are off, the intensity level is off the charts and everyone’s life is on the line. Not everyone makes it out of this story alive but for those who do, their lives are changed forever. It makes for compelling reading that’s like a freight train without brakes – moving fast with no signs of stopping.
The SynCorp Saga will eventually be comprised of three trilogies, with each one taking place a generation after the last. This is book three in the second trilogy and while it can be read independently of the previous trilogy, you need to read “Valhalla Station” and “Masada’s Gate” to get a strong understanding of what’s going on here. That being said, it adds a lot more depth and enhances the enjoyment of this novel if you know the backstory of events and characters from all five previous novels in the SynCorp series.
This was another incredible novel that I found to be the best of this trilogy. When the third and final trilogy is written and released, I will do my best to patiently wait for it. But I fully acknowledge that the waiting will be difficult.
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Previous Indie Athenaeum book reviews about stories by David Bruns & Chris Pourteau include “Masada’s Gate: A Space Opera Noir Technothriller“, “Valhalla Station“, “It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane!: A Superhero Anthology“, “World Domination: A Supervillain Anthology“, “Beyond the Stars – Unimagined Realms: a space opera anthology” and “Bridge Across the Stars – A Sci-Fi Bridge Original Anthology.”