The Ninth Circle (Tour of the Merrimack 5) by R. M. Meluch [Book Review]

Sentient Mammoths, Foxes and Other Aliens

The Ninth Circle continues R. M. Meluch’s Tour of the U.S.S. Merrimack series. This is the fifth installment and the first in what looks like a new major arc into the origin of DNA based life.

Many of my favorite characters return with some well-deserved development but we also get to follow John Farragut’s younger brother with the same name in his new life as a Roman recruit, double exile and space pirate. He and his friend’s life in the ninth circle of hell as they see it is what gives this story its title.

Lieutenant Glenn Hamilton and Dr. Patrick Hamilton are on the planet Zoe on a research holiday when it becomes the focal point for the known galaxy. Life there is based on DNA just like we are. How that came to be is not answered in this book but there is enough resolution anyway.

There are some great scenes when Glenn and Patrick jump the fence and go native among the local sentients. Exploration and learning to know the world is something I enjoy reading about and here R.M. pull out all the stops. When the mammoths were attacked and the fox princess storyline are some of my highlights.

But there wouldn’t be a military science fiction unless there was some strife and battle. It so happens Zoe is under siege by some mysterious space traveling invaders which gets both U.S.S. Merrimack and others to the scene.

The Ninth Circle can probably be read alone but there are references and characters you will enjoy more if you start from the beginning. This is military space opera with a roman empire in conflict with the US of A. Pirates, first contact, ancient mysteries and assorted banter is an enjoyable mix I do recommend.

We can probably expect the next novel in 2012 although it has not been announced yet.

Book Information

The Ninth Circle (Tour of the Merrimack 5) by R. M. Meluch (Daw 2011) – us uk

On the distant world of Zoe, an expedition finds DNA-based life. When alien invaders are also discovered, Glenn Hamilton calls on the U.S.S. Merrimack for help. But the Ninth Circle and the Palatine Empire have also found Zoe. Soon everyone will be on a collision course to determine the fate of this planet.