Orphan’s Alliance by Robert Buettner

Jason’s army defeated the slugs on Bren and now, fifteen years later, he finds himself once more commanding an invasion force. This time they must expel the Slugs from a small moon, where they decimated the human inhabitants.

And although Earth has finally begun to mobilise against the aggressors, a new and problematic faction has arisen. The totalitarian government of Tressel, a strategically-situated planet, is willing to defeat the Slugs at any cost – regardless of the human casualties.

Unfortunately for Jason, his godson, Jude, is attracted to Tressel’s total-war policies. As the struggle continues, Jason is not only fighting for the survival of the human race, but for his relationship with the only family he has left.

orphans-allianceThe Jason Wander series of Military Sci-Fi books is one I picked up a couple of years back and have been reading them steadily since then. Orphan’s Alliance is the fourth book in this series and, as has been the case in all so far, it has a different approach to the setting and overall story. Orphanage, Orphan’s Destiny, and Orphan’s Journey have steadily carried the story forward, from the first encounter with the slugs, to a counter-attack by them, and finally to the discovery of ftl travel and human inhabited planets. I picked up this book as a comfort read after enjoying the first three and thought this would satisfy me in the same way. Unfortunately it didn’t and has left me questioning whether or not to read the final book or call it quits…

We follow on from the events of Orphan’s Journey, the human race now building starships and flying between the stars and finding more inhabited planets that the slugs put humans on tens of thousands of years ago to mine cavorite for them. Jason, Ord, Munchkin and and Jude each progress in different ways, from gaining a higher rank in the military to moving on to political office, and each plays a role in the events of the story. With an imminent attack from slugs expected it’s up to Jason and friends to forge alliances with these other planets in order to fight off the slugs, and to build a working multi-world human alliance.

This time the focus is more of a political one, looking at the relationship between Earth it the other human planets that have been discovered. With each of these planets a new people are met, but the differences between them and Earth humans is not so great. The main issue is the political and cultural differences, each affecting the story in their own ways and contributing to the tension and military action within the novel. From the early scenes on one of the planets where two nations are fighting one another, to the main battle of the story, the military aspect is spot on, as expected. It’s just the political aspect I wasn’t too impressed with.

While the stories are told from Jason’s point of view, putting him the situation that he’s in during the events of Orphan’s Alliance just didn’t feel quite right. With the focus being on forging alliances and all the little details that go along with that, Jason’s viewpoint isn’t one that I would want to read this aspect from. It just didn’t feel right and was very much the reason that Orphan’s Alliance missed the mark with me.

Overall Orphan’s Alliance is a good continuation of the series, but it’s the low point so far and just feels a little clunky at times. Buettner is excellent at Military SF, but when the focus moves too far away from that my enjoyment really did suffer. Finishing Orphan’s Alliance was a bit of a struggle, to be honest, and it’ll be a while before I decide whether or not to continue to the climax of a series that I was very much enjoying before this book. It’s funny how one book can be a turn-off despite the enjoyment I’ve had from the previous ones…

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