By Sarah Hoyt
Baen, 384 pp., $14.00
A Few Good Men by Sarah Hoyt is the third book in her clever space opera Darkship series although in this newest edition most of the action occurs on Earth. The novel starts with a dedication to Usaian, explanation to follow, Glenn Harlan Reynolds of Instapundit.com fame. Instantly I knew this book was something special.
**Please note this review has spoilers from the previous books due to ongoing revelations about the Mules. Also the second and third books occur at the same time, meaning that at the end book one, the stories diverge and then towards the end of book two and three the story lines coverage, before they separate again. Despite the convergence, they should still be read in order: Darkship Thieves, Darkship Renegades, and A Few Good Men. Check out the previous review here and here.
On Earth, Thena’s rescue of Kit from Never-Never, the maximum-security facility (Book One), allowed a Good Man clone to escape. Lucius Dante Maximilian Keeva had been imprisoned at age 21, by his “Father” for 15 years, but kept alive and in good health as a back up body. He returns home to find his Father dead and Max, his younger brother dead too, so ascends as the next Good Man Keeva, with no knowledge of his true state and purpose, nor any information from the past 15 years. Lucius reaches out to an old friend, but the old friend is now a Good Man with a transplant and he deduces Lucius is just the clone, not the real Good Man Keeva. The Good Men network immediately and repeatedly attacks Lucius. He survives and
Nat reveals the truth to Lucius – why he’d been imprisoned, how he has bioengineered enhancing due to cloning, how the Good Men arose during the turmoils, how they keep control – and more importantly, Nat seeks help to defend Lucius from a religion called the Usaians, in the hope that this could start the revolution. Lucius is revolted by their ideas but slowly, over many discussions, decides that he too is a Usaian, as he believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The revolution against the Good Men on Earth commences.
This book is action-packed with prison break-outs and break-ins, skirmishes, battles and then full out war, and while there are many longer discourses about political systems and structures, they’re solidly grounded in plot movement. Lucius narrates and it’s his version of the revolution that includes his political awakening. He’s a likable, naïve character unbroken by prison and torture, who tells a personal and delayed coming of age story. Since he was raised only for his body, he’d not been well educated nor had he ever spent time on self-reflection, but now with his life, and his city, Olympus, on the line, the pampered princeling is leading a revolution.
Lucius’ ideology changes aren’t forced. The Usaian underground religion and its many factions are believable given the devolution of society. The questions about how far one should go to free others from an oppressive 300-year regime remain timeless. Nat, the other main character, is now fully developed in book three; we better understand his actions, motivations, and hyper-desire for freedom. His growth after Max’s death and his dedication to the Usaians before, during and after the revolution are the stuff of legend.
A Few Good Men is a creative and impressive narrative of how a revolution is sparked in the midst of a plausible future. It’s beautifully interwoven into the preceding two books while also being a great stand-alone story.