In fairness, my editor gave me a copy of this book upon request but did not ask for a review or attempt to slant my opinion. He knows not to ask for a good review just for the sake of it.
Mike Stackpole first introduced us to the Northwind Highlanders in his Warrior trilogy, with just a few paragraphs really. I got the write the first two Highlander novels, Highlander Gambit and Impetus of War. There were some Dark Ages novels as well, but I felt the authors really missed the mark with them as a unit. As such, I approached this novel with a bit of trepidation. I was a little surprised that no one asked me to at least read through the manuscript before it went to edit. But hey, my little ego was a small price to pay.
I knew the story from Shattered Fortress going into this book. In fact, I indirectly contributed to this novel. When Phil was writing Shattered Fortress we talked about the unit, and I offered the name, “Grey Watch.” I also asked one favor, make a Jaffray command it.
This weekend I read the book and I have to say, ‘Kudos’ to Michael Ciaravella. I think he did something that other authors failed in the Dark Ages, he captured the essence of the Northwind Highlanders. He expanded on the original story in Shattered Fortress, and did so in a positive way (I won’t ruin it for you.)
House Liao is coming at Northwind, after the HPG. The Highlanders, torn and a wee bit bitter about their relationship with the Republic of the Sphere, are not so willing to turn it over. Out of that comes a mysterious new unit, filled with 3025 awesomeness – the Grey Watch.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, part I of the Highlander Covenant. The characters are fairly solid. Most importantly, for me, I felt he was respectful of the work others of us have done on this storied unit. Plunkett having a bar named after him was heartwarming for me. The author did his research. He had to deal with the baggage of the Steel Wolves from the Dark Ages and did so quickly and painlessly, without making us rehash some complicated storylines.
My only complaint – this book leaves you on a cliffhanger. I would have preferred to get it all as one big thick book rather than two parts. That’s just me.
So, completely biased, I give this five out of five stars. Now wrap up this story so we can haul ass to Terra!