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The Dark Crusade by Walter H. Hunt
Review by Bruce Wallace
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0765311178
Date: 01 August, 2005 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Ch'en'ya the lost Zor fledgling found by Jackie in the 3rd book in the series, The Dark Ascent, abandoned on a distant planet after her parents are killed is filled with hate for the alien Vuhls, the Zor, the Solar Empire and even Jackie for different, but similar reasons. She is mad at the Vuhls for killing her family and leaving her stranded. She is in turn also mad at the Zor and Jackie for not rescuing her fast enough and even more mad at the Solar Empire and its Zor allies for not crushing the Vuhl in short order. As time passes she embraces a destructive force and finds allies in Blazing Star who have done the same. She leaves the Zor nest abruptly and escapes, presumably with the assistance of Blazing Star, with the latest set of the Solar Empire's battle plans.

With the help of Ch'en'ya, and Captain Stone, Blazing Star leaps to prominence quickly by crafting and implementing a method to defeat the massive PSI powers of the Vuhl while launching a stunning counter-punch of their own. In short they are winning battles and claiming bragging rights that the Zor and the fighters of the Solar Empire can only dream about.

Blazing Star not only has the ability to defeat the Vuhl, they have an agenda of their own. No sooner are they accepted into the bosom of the Solar Empire than they begin dividing and conquering. Friends and founders of Blazing Star begin disappearing as well as members of the Empire's fighting forces. Soon a full blown purge complete with loyalty tests is under way and only Commander Jackie Lappierre can save the day, if she can save herself.

The Dark Crusade provides an enjoyable read while solving some of the series previously unresolved mysteries. The mood of the long suffering military personnel and their families channels the Vietnam War and mirrors their angst, the never ending war fought at a savage cost and the feeling that the war could be won if only they were allowed to win it. This coupled with characters new and old including an AI unit that is in turn channeling Niccolo Machiavelli take us along for an exciting ride. The Dark Crusade is a crusade well worth signing up for!

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