Prince Roger MacClintock, Heir to the Throne of Man, was a spoiled rotten arrogant, thoroughly useless young pain in the butt. But that was before the royal Brat and his Marine bodyguards had their starship sabotaged, and all were marooned on the enemy-occupied planet of Marduk. Before they had to march half way around the entire planet, through steaming jungles, damnbeasts, Capetoads, and killerpillars. Before they encountered treacherous local potentates, hostile barbarian armies numbering in the thousands, and an ocean full of creatures that are big, vicious and voracious. Under the right circumstances, even the most spoiled brat can grow up fast. Now, Roger and his loyal troops have made it to the sea, and on the way, Roger has proven himself to be a true MacClintock and a born leader. Still, the sea has monsters big enough to swallow a ship - and across the water is an enemy spaceport, bristing with heavy artillery, against which Roger's team has only had weapons with nearly-drained power packs. But neither Roger nor the Marines are about to give up, Marduk, do your worst! (from BookDepository)
Much like the other two Empire of Man books, March to the Stars is about the travels and adventures of Roger, a space prince marooned on an alien planet with only a company of marines and a whole bunch of native peoples for company. There’s fighting, there’s lots of explanations about how things work,1 there are new cultures introduced that looks suspiciously similar to various Earth cultures2— basically, the same plot structure and content as always. If you liked the other books, you’ll like this one, too.
In March to the Stars we finally get some new information regarding the larger world that the characters lives in. The first two books and half of this one are very insular; it’s all Marduk, all the time. Now, though, we finally learn about what’s been happening off-planet. And those revelations set up a larger plotline for the rest of the non-Marduk books.
Mostly these books have been about surviving in a harsh environment filled with harsh people who want to kill the prince and his people. Now, it’s starting to move into a wider story line with intergalactic politics. Yay for people who, like me, love space opera stories. Boo for people who really loved the survival scifi story instead. But, I mean, they had to get off the planet sometime.
Now for characters! They’re basically all the same. We meet a few new people, favorite old people die, it’s both terrible and wonderful, etc. The romance between Roger and Nimashet is more fleshed out in March to the Stars, and for a manly-man scifi book it’s a pretty sweet relationship.
It’s also realistic– Nimashet doesn’t want to be an bit time royal, she’s suffering from Too Much Battle and is on the edge of going crazy from the stress. She doesn’t want to be in the relationship, though she loves Roger, of course. Roger, meanwhile, is scared of what his new role means and is understandably upset about View Spoiler »the death of most of his family « Hide Spoiler, and so is clinging to Nimashet and begging her to stay. They don’t know who they are or what they are to each other. They’re in a holding pattern, and it’s all very tense and upsetting.
The transition from survival to spaceship is a little anticlimactic. They kind of just show up to the port, wait for a ship to arrive, and then take over. Not without loss of personnel, of course, and not without an exciting battle sequence! But for such an important turning point in the story, it kinda feels like being hit in the face with a marshmallow. Big whoop.
And THEN the last five pages blow everything out of the water and (more) people die and it’s terrible and omg, I really admire authors who can kill their characters without flinching. It also makes for an exciting/stressful reading experience, because anyone can die at any time, so you’re always on your toes.
Though I wasn’t overly wowed with the way the switch from space jungle to outer space was handled, I do enjoy spaceship stories and so I assume I’ll like the next book in the series, too. Onward!
Read: November 01-December 07, 2013