Genre: Science Fiction
Released: September 2019
Reviewed by: Jane Stockwell
I came to “Imperium Defiant” the long way around. It is the third book in the “Light of Terra” trilogy, which is the second trilogy in the “Duchess of Terra” series of books.
My starting point was through “Darkness Beyond,” which was the first book in the “Light of Terra” trilogy. At that point, I had absolutely no idea that there was a preceding trilogy, nor how prolific the author, Glynn Stewart, actually is.
The series is set in a near-future Earth, which has been conquered by a benevolent species of squidlike creatures, called the A!Tol. The A!Tol are a massive Imperium spanning many systems, who have an uneasy truce with a species of human-like, blue-furred slavers called the Kanzi Theocracy. This truce, and indeed, the lives of both factions, is at risk from a zealot offshoot of the Kanzi, the Taljzi.
The story of earth’s conquering and subsequent integration into the A!Tol Imperium is told in the first trilogy, “The Duchess of Terra.” It’s also well worth the read and I’d recommend starting there before moving to the second trilogy. I was awaiting the release of “Shield of Terra” when I discovered this series, so I went back and read the first trilogy. I’m glad I did as it helped to put the rest of the story into perspective.
What actually caught my attention with this series and with this author was in “Darkness Beyond” where the A!Tol fleet skipped away faster than the speed of light from the scene of a massacre by the Taljzi, so they could use the “old light” to review what had happened. The understanding that light actually has a measurable speed and takes time to traverse interstellar distances struck me as a clever use of physics that I hadn’t encountered before.
The author describes each of the ships and their battles in great detail and has established a highly coherent universe. He clearly enjoyed writing them and has a clear picture in his head of how it all works. Never did I feel that the physics of his stories was inconsistent, which made them immersive and believable – even when discussing universal translators, universal proteins and parallel evolution where entirely unrelated species resulted in similar physical attributes.
My only real criticism of the books is the naming that the author chose to give his human characters. Far too many of them are a nod to current or historical figures (such as the Duke of Wellington, Elon Musk and Nelson Mandela, just to name a few). It just made it feel a little cutesy and threatened to break the fourth wall.
If you’re after a fun science-fiction story that you can just sit and enjoy, then I would definitely recommend jumping into the “Duchess of Terra” series. I’m not sure if there will be a third trilogy following on from “Imperium Defiant,” as the author is writing a (considerable) number of other series, but I certainly hope so. After six books, I feel very comfortable in the universe and the characters have become friends.