When Avram became King of Detina, he declared he intended to liberate the blond serfs from their ties to the land. The northern provinces, where most of the serfs lived, would not accept his lordship. The hot north was a land of broad estates, whose noble overlords took the serfs' labor and gave back next to nothing. Those provinces left Detina, choosing Avram's cousin, Grand Duke Geoffrey, as their king in his place.
Avram said he had inherited all of the kingdom, not just a part. He refused to let Geoffrey rule the north without a challenge. And the southron provinces, full of merchants and smallholders stood solidly behind him. So he sent armies clad in gray against the north. Geoffrey raised his own army, and arrayed his men in blue made from the indigo much raised on northern estates to distinguish them from the southrons.
Avram held the larger part of the kingdom, and the wealthier part, too. But Geoffrey's men were bolder soldiers. And the north, taken all in all, had better wizards than the southrons did. The war raged for almost three years, until Avram's General named Guildenstern and his great lieutenant, Doubting George, moved against the northern army under Count Thraxton the Braggart and his commander of unicorn-riders, Ned of the Forest, which held the town of Rising Rock, close by Sentry Peak. . . .
ALIENS: BEWARE OF LOW-FLYING
Chip Connolly was a conscripted grunt in trouble. Here he was, stuck behind enemy lines with a bunch of cyber-uplifted rats and bats. Rats with human speech, but with rat values. Rats that knew what was worth fighting for: sex, food and strong drink. True, they were holed up on a ruined wine-farm with enough brandy to swim in. Trouble was, there wasn't much food. And with shrew-metabolism the rats had to eat. He was next on the menu. The bats were no help: they were crazy revolutionaries planning to throw off the yoke of human enslavement—with high explosive. As if that wasn't bad enough, there was the girl they'd rescued. Rich. Beautiful. With a passionate crush on her 'heroic' rescuer. She came with added extras: a screwball Alien tutor, and a cyber-uplifted pet galago—a tiny little lemurlike-critter with a big mouth and delusions about being the world's greatest lover.
So: he'd volunteered for a suicide mission. Of course things only got worse. The whole crew decided to come along. Seven rats, five bats, a galago, two humans, a sea-urchin-like alien and an elderly vineyard tractor without brakes . . . against several million inimical aliens. He was going to die.
Mind you, not dying could be even more terrible. That girl might get him.
The relentless search is on: Find the opal-like sections of a matter transmitter, scattered across a continent. Without them the only human colony-planet dies. The pieces are hidden in the vast deserts, tangled jungles, medieval cities and stark fortresses of this world. They are defended by fanatics. The fifteen sections are technological miracle-workers, more precious than fist-sized diamonds in a colony regressed to the 14th century level. Yet, the various hunters will let nothing in their way.
Against humanity's questers race the Morkth, space-traveling xenophobic alien destroyers of Earth. They are determined to destroy all these human vermin, soon. But first they want the matter-transmitter. They want it badly, and they destroy anything that tries to stop them. They have nukes and lasers to the colonists' swords and spears. It's no contest.
All that stands between the Morkth and the destruction of the planet are three unlikely heroes A street-child thief, a dispossessed and totally spoiled brat of a sixteen year-old princess, and a confused, amoral, Morkth-raised human. If they can gather all the transmitter sections before the Morkth do, then there is a chance of survival. But the Morkth already have several sections, and the others are lost, or guarded and hidden It seems like a lost cause... a Forlorn Hope. But it's all humans have.
Peter Raeder was an ace pilot in the Commonwealth's war against the secessionist Mollies until a battle cost him his hand—and his right to fly the fighter ships he loved. So he became Flight Engineer on the fast carrier Invincible, a crack new ship with a picked crew, ready to fight the fanatical Mollies and their spiderlike alien allies. On his first mission, he faced pirate raiders, attacks by Mollies and a hidden saboteur on board who came close to destroying the Invincible before Raeder unmasked him.
Unfortunately for Raeder, his heroism didn't follow the rulebook, and his reward for saving the ship was a reprimand from an admiral who didn't trust him, and a deskbound assignment—a fate worse than death for a born spacehound like Raeder. Then a less rulebound Marine General offered Raeder an escape: command of a hidden base deep in Mollie-controlled space from which ships, posing as space pirates, will harry Mollie shipping, like the seagoing privateers of Earth's past. And Raeder finds a dangerous mission preferable to exile to an office cubicle . . . even if his chances of surviving this assignment are very nearly zero.
". . . Doohan ("Scotty" on the original TV series Star Trek) and SF veteran Stirling again deliver the exhilarating action that their fans want. . . . Doohan fans will be delighted as the high-spirited crew of the Dauntless set out on their new ship, The Invincible . . . sharply drawn characters and rousing adventure with an energetic story line, offering first-rate escapist entertainment." —Publishers Weekly
"The collaboration of Star Trek's Scottie and top action-sf writer Stirling is a good one. The two have compatible senses of humor. . . . Solid astronautical fare."