The Sagittarius Command by R. M. Meluch (Tour of the Merrimack 3)

This is a continuation of the Tour of the Merrimack series’ arc about how to deal with the ravenous Hive, a race of space traveling insects that devour all life they come across. In The Myriad the Mack was out looking for the Hive’s Home world when they stumbled on the time traveling aliens who eventually caused the universe to throw them into an alternative reality to avoid paradox. In Wolf Star the war between Earth and the New Roman Empire is going at full blast and Merrimack is in a deep strike mission behind enemy lines when they meet the Hive again and the Romans have to bow down and admit they need help. The Emperor choose to surrender to John Farragut the Captain of U.S.S. Merrimack.

Title: The Sagittarius Command
Author: R. M. Meluch
Series: Tour of the Merrimack 3
Genre: Military Science Fiction | Alternative Reality
Cover art: Stephan Martiniere
Publisher: DAW, October 2008
Order: DAW | Amazon US | UK | B&N

After the finest battleship-class spaceship in Earth’s fleet, the U.S.S. Merrimack, rescues a near-space Roman world besieged by a destructive alien life-form known as the Hive, the Romans’ leader, Caesar Magnus, insists on honoring the ship’s captain, John Farragut. But when Caesar is assassinated, Farragut must lead a mission into the heart of Hive territory in search of a Roman who has been presumed “dead” for decades.

The Hive is back with a vengeance and human forces are hard pressed. They thought they had a good hold on the time table but the Hive learn. When the Hive attacks a Roman world near Earth without any warning the Roman defenders have to make what they think is a last stand in a recreated old fortress only to be rescued by the arrival of the U.S.S. Merrimack. The ability of large groups of Hive to take control of advanced electronics makes it plausible to use low techs like swords to fight them. This is one of the charming aspects of the Mack series, I always have been weak for science fiction with medieval tech and here it is pre medieval. Rebeca M. Meluch show genuine expertise in the details.

The Romans are a proud folk and the Subjugation doesn’t sit well with them. There is lots of resentment around. Further fueled when Ceasar Magnus, the Emperor decide to honor Farragut. The Emperor is assassinated before the cermony can complete and his son Romulus take charge. The relations between Romans and Americans tense further.

If you read my review of the previous books you know the Roman Empire never died back in the eight hundreds, they went into hiding. Ever wondered why lawyers, scientists and doctors talk Latin? They are in secret societies biding their time to the return of the Roman Empire. At some stage they broke away the colony world Palantir and formed the New Roman Empire. Members of secret societies revealed themselves and joined, splitting families and breaking loyalties. Resentment was great at both sides. It was only a matter of time before a war between America and Palantir broke out.  Rebeca crafts an interesting background, it is definitely one of the wow points in this series. I have always been suspicious of lawyers and now I know. :)

The return of Augustus, the patterner puts U.S.S. Merrimack on the trace of an even bigger mystery. The founder of Roman displacement and automation technology was believed to have been killed decades ago when he started to become a threat to the throne. Augustus deduce that he is still alive, living on a planet inside Hive controlled space. He might hold the secret to defeat the hive or might be the one responsible for it’s attack. Farragut’s task force is sent to investigate.

I am not sure but I sense that the Hive here might be a force of nature corrupted or striking back at humanity much like mother nature might do if we don’t stop polluting her. They do react to resonance signals used in faster than light communication. Maybe I am seeing environmental issues where there is none? The answer might be in the next book.

What really made book one and two is Rebeca’s fantastic characters and their interaction. That continues here but on a somewhat less intensity. For the characters there is not as much resolution in this book. There is some new ones Constantine the missing inventor and Herius Asinius a disgruntled Roman legate. Steele and Kerry impeded love affair continues to amuse. Augustus features more in this book and his relation with Captain Ferragut is going towards new places. I am not sure where the author is going with Augustus, he could be a brewing villain or Ferragut’s next best friend. I am looking forward to more resolve on that issue in the next book.

I prefer to read a book in one go and due to reasons not connected to the this book I wasn’t able to do that even if I wanted to. It is captivating to read and you feel that it brings us closer to a resolution, but I should also be honest and tell you I didn’t have that many wow moments in this book as in the previous.

The Sagittarius Command is another great swashbuckling space opera from Rebeca M. Meluch. Tour of the Merrimack is one of the best and most entertaining military science fiction series I have found in recent years. I recommend it to all secret swashbucklers and readers of military scifi, ahoy mates!