Strength and Honor by R. M. Meluch (Tour of the Merrimack 4)

This is so far the last book in the Merrimack series so it was with anticipation and expectations of another good romp with the sneaky, steamy, violent and competent crew of the Merrimack and their reluctant Roman allies.  And Rebeca didn’t disappoint me.

Title: Strength and Honor
Series: Tour of the Merrimack 4
Author: R. M. Meluch
Cover art: Stephan Martiniere
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: DAW 2008
Order: DAW | Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

Earth’s space forces, spearheaded by the United States, had long been at war with the forces of the Palatine Empire, a neo-Roman culture that broke away from Earth’s control long ago. But when the alien life-form known as the Hive – a biological force whose only imperative was: seek and devoure – began wreaking destruction across the galaxy, the Romans were forced to turn to Earth for help. Ceasar Magnus surrendered to Captain John Farragut – commander of the pride of the U.S. space fleet, the battle class starship, the U.S.S. Merrimack – and the period known as the Subjugation begun.

Ever since the surrender, an uneasy peace and alliance had been in force, as all humanity and their alien allies joined to battle the Hive.

When the threat of the Hive seemed to have been neutralized, John Ferragut was summoned to Caesar Magnus’ fortress to be honored. But instead, Caesar Magnus was assassinated, and Farragut and the Merrimack were lucky to escape from what could have proved a deadly trap.

Now Magnus’ son Romulus has taken control of the Palantine Empire and has had himself proclaimed Caesar, and Captain Farragut and the Merrimack are about to face their greatest challenge ever.

The forced alliance between the interplanetary Empire of Rome and the United States-led Earth forces is shattered as Caesar Romulus declares war, striking at the U.S. Deep Space base, and then following up with a direct attack against Earth. Merrimack has no choice but to retaliate with an assault on the Roman capital world of Palantine. In the midst of this chaos, the Hive renews its invasion. And even if John Farragut and his crew can survive all of this, the rogue Roman patterner Augustus – who has long been assigned to his own mission aboard Merrimack – flees the ship when war is declared, and no one knows whether he is only biding his time, waiting to meet Ferragut in a final deadly showdown.

The Author

R. M. Meluch has been publishing science fiction for thirty years. She holds degrees in communications and classical civilization, and dabbles in speaking in various languages, including Greek and Latin. At one point she traveled through Greece, Israel, and Egypt on the track of Alexander the Great. Meluch also holds a second-degree black belt in taekwondo and “plays” with electricity. She resides in Medina, Ohio, with her husband, Jim Witkowski, and their ferrets, fish, alpacas, and a Doberman.

Ms. Meluch has deep and abiding interests in Roman history, airplanes, flying, and World War II. She has stated that she is interested in good characters on the wrong side in wars or conflicts.


The Roman Empire never died, it just went underground. Have you ever wondered why most scientists or intellectuals speak Latin? They are part of a secret society that eventually will break loose from earth civilization and start their own Palantire Empire. A long war commence between Palantire and Earth.

Then they meet a new threat a race of hungry space faring insects that eats everything biological that comes their way. The Hive onslaught forces the old enemies to an uneasy peace to fight the new threat.

Now they believe the threat from the Hive over.


The neo-Roman culture flesh out quite well in the story but is a bit stereotypical at times. I like the way we get to see more of old earth’s political mesh up and that it still is divided into countries with different cultures and agendas.


Caesar is dead and his son Romulus seems determined to start the war with Earth all over again. Captain Ferragut and Roman patterner Augustus suddenly end up on different sides in the conflict and both have orders to eliminate the other if war is declared. But Augustus have another agenda.

Then the Hive starts stirring in unsuspected places.

War is a risky business which some of the Marines experience first hand in and out of enemy hands. Life is just a circus sometimes.

Some of the twists and last minute saves might be a little bit unlikely but, this is Space Opera, what do you expect?


Rebeca has a delightful and endearing ability to create lovable and colorful characters like Captain Farragut and his Roman liaison Augustus. Dialog is also one of her strengths.

The Roman Caligula twist is excellent and there is one or two steamy relationships stories in there too.

My View

In this story revenge is the new black. Characterization is an important part of my enjoyment when I read, and I am very happy that I found Rebeca M. Meluch (I hate that female writers have to hide their sex to sell more books) that write characters I can love and root for. Strength and Honor is a healthy mix of military action, mystery, humor and sex.  It was a fast and fun read. I can warmly recommend this book and this series to any lover of military science fiction with strong characters.