Book Review – Clouds of Darkness
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Author: Jeff Caminsky
Format: Kindle, Paperback
The Crutchan war against the ever advancing Terran forces hinges on taking out one Terran commander whose strategic battle genius decimates them at every turn and in every battle. One young Crutchan subaltern – Fa’Shenali – is assigned the impossible, to get inside the great Terran commander’s mind by studying his battles and actions, to discern his motivation and his strategies and perhaps crack “the Beast’s” secrets. But even if he is successful, will his Crutchan superiors listen to an inexperienced subaltern or choose to be blinded by their own desires and perhaps loose the war and their people?
Jeff Caminsky’s “Clouds of Darkness” is the third offering in the “Guardian’s of Peace” series. Having not read the first two books, I was a bit overwhelmed during the first sections of the book trying to keep all of the characters, races, planets, organizations, and historical battles in context. Fortunately, the author provides a bit of an index summary at the beginning and once the first major battle sequence begins things fall in to place nicely. Having said that, I would encourage others to start at the beginning of the series if possible.
Though I choose to write my opening summary from the Crutchan’s perspective, the novel’s central character is Roscoe Cook, the commander for the Terran forces that so vexes the Crutchan military. Cook is a bit of an outcast with his own people given he chooses to live outside of the politics and hierarchy of the military and instead be a bit of a rogue leader who goes with his gut breaking the rules in James T Kirk type fashion. Unfortunately, his brilliance is overlooked by those threatened by his effectiveness as a leader and Caminsky sets up an interesting power struggle within the broader story.
Weaving an intricate plot of politics and greed, Caminsky conveys his tortured characters in beautifully written prose. However, my favorite parts of this novel were the space battles and strategic maneuverings demonstrating Cook’s prowess at using the enemy and their shortsighted desires as a lever turned back on themselves exploiting their weakness. The climactic ending is more than satisfying while setting up the foundation for a great final chapter in the Saga. Overall, an engaging book whose finale I look forward to.
Note: A complementary copy of this work was provided in return for a review.