Set in the 25th century, humanity has expanded into the galaxy and there are two main powers at play: the Commonwealth and the Theocracy. While the Commonwealth expands through diplomacy and trade, the Theocracy is a strict dictatorship, with little other than rumours known about them outside their space. In the middle of this brewing conflict lays Cadiz, a world recently brought into the Commonwealth fold against its wishes, though the Commonwealth insists it is for their own good in defence against the Theocracy. Prematurely promoted due to her father’s influence within the Commonwealth government, Katherine ‘Kat’ Falcone finds herself stationed at Cadiz in command of the newest starship in the Navy, and what she finds there is beyond her father’s worst fears. Faced with an unprepared fleet, an incompetent system commander, and an impending war, Kat has a struggle in front of her if the Commonwealth is to prevail.
Reminiscent of David Weber’s Honorverse novels, The Oncoming Storm is a fast-paced and entertaining novel combining military, political, and religious overtones that make for compulsive reading. Nuttall’s prose is simple, yet provides great detail in setting the scene and building the history of humanities expansion. While the Commonwealth contains a variety of characters, those in the theocracy display a much more simple bad-guy persona – fitting for the story, but unable to provide many grey areas. However, in Falcone there is a strong character that has to work past the preconceptions of many, including her own officers, in order to work through the issues that encounter the crew of the Lightning at every turn.
The Oncoming Storm is a quick read that delivers not only an interesting and system-spanning story, but also presents the military aspects in a believable way. With many layers adding to build the whole, this is a series that I will be following closely. Recommended.