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In Fury Born by David Weber
Review by Drew Bittner
Baen Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 1416520546
Date: 28 March, 2006 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

In In Fury Born, seventeen-year-old Alicia chooses a life in the Marines over the more peaceful career paths advocated by her father. Having a "living legend" in her family, in the form of her grandfather Sgt. Major O'Shaughnessy, provides a powerful lure to service, however, and Alicia is soon off to adventure.

Early on, it is clear to her superiors that she is meant for greatness. Her scores in training are amazing and qualify her for a position in Reconnaissance, a group that faces extraordinary risks (even for Marines) and suffers tremendous casualties. In her first action, a political miscalculation in confronting a budding insurgency leads to worldwide riot, with only a handful of Marines left to quell the furor. Alicia's quick thinking and leadership prove decisive and she is promoted to lieutenant, but then gets an irresistible job offer: transfer to the elite Imperial Cadre, jump commandos who are the Emperor's finest warriors.

Alicia endures a new training regimen and teams with Corp. Tannis Cateau, under the watchful eye of Sir Arthur Keita, commander of the Cadre. She proves herself more than equal to the challenge... and then everything falls apart, as a rescue mission goes horribly awry. Alicia leads a decimated company of Cadre soldiers on a desperate bid to complete their mission against overwhelming odds. It is only later, facing the alien Rish (enemies of the human Empire), that she learns a devastating secret, which compels her to leave Imperial service.

This is where the previous novel starts, with Alicia battling a squad of pirates single-handed, only to lie mortally injured in the snow. She is found by Tisiphone, last of the mythical Furies, who is also alone and without purpose; joining together, Tisiphone promises Alicia her vengeance. However, the price may be far more than Alicia is ready to pay.

To achieve their goals, they steal an Imperial alpha-synth ship. This is a single-person craft run by an artificial intelligence, with which the pilot's mind merges. Because Alicia lacks the necessary implants, Tisiphone achieves the merging, but it is incomplete, allowing Alicia and Megaira (the ship) to retain their personalities.

We get to see much of the story from the pirates' point of view as well. They have a goal in mind, which is revealed only gradually, and the scope of the plan is ingenious. Weber skillfully shows the doubts of their leader, Howell, as he does the unthinkable on the way to his goal. The old saying "nobody is the villain of his own story" is never more true here, though Howell is truly a villainous character. Half the fun of the book is seeing how his well-made plans are knocked askew by the wild card Alicia represents.

Alicia and her allies work through a series of clues and connections, toward a rendezvous with fate they could never have foreseen. At the same time, Sir Arthur, Tannis, and a wily inspector are on Alicia's trail, afraid that one of the Empire's most dangerous soldiers has gone insane...

The book is broken down into self-contained segments, so that it feels like four or five smaller novels all with an overarching storyline. This approach may relieve those who find the prospect of 800+ pages especially daunting; it also gives an appropriate build-up to the shattering events (about halfway through) that send Alicia on her mission of revenge. By getting to know her family, their loss (and the manner of their deaths) is felt all the more sharply.

Fans of Weber's work-- or any who like big-picture space adventure-- will enjoy this expanded version of Path of the Fury. She has many similarities to Weber's more famous heroine, Honor Harrington, but her own conflicts and crises are quite different.

Strongly recommended.

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