This week I decided to review The General: The Savior by David Drake and Toney Daniel. The story is set on the planet Duisberg, which was once part of a galactic republic before a republic-wide civil war led to the unleashing of a nano-virus which eradicated most advanced technology other than a few well shielded AI Supercomputers. One of these supercomputers was a ground warfare and planetary specialist on Duisberg named Zentrum. Zentrum has set itself up as god of the societies on Duisberg, but to prevent civilization from collapsing again, it restricts technology and society to an eighteenth and early nineteenth-century level with occasional assaults on the more civilized regions by the Blaskoye tribes to keep technology from developing too far. A pod containing copies of the AI Center and a copy of the mind of Raj Whitehall, a general who managed to bring civilization back to his world, eventually making it the heart to a new multi-planetary federation, has landed on Duisberg.
They have formed a mental link with Abel Dashian, an officer in Zentrum’s Guardians, and warned him that if Zentrum isn’t stopped, the human population on Zentrum will inevitably be destroyed by an asteroid impact. Early in the story, Abel is part of a force of Guardians sent to attack a city which has developed technology forbidden by Zentrum, including a number of (for Duisberg at least) highly advanced weapons like repeating rifles. With aid from Center’s ability to predict possible futures, and Raj’s tactical advice, Abel manages to assist the army in a number of battles.
But the time for the next Blaskoye invasion has come. Even worse while Abel tries to turn his army into a force to fight both the Blaskoye and Zentrumm agents of the latter find and destroy the pod containing Raj and Center. To make matters even worse, Abel’s father and a number of his high- ranking allies vanish or are brainwashed, while his lover Mahaut prepares a militia to defend the capital city against the Blaskoye horde. There are also a number of flashbacks to events that took between the previous book and this one mostly focused on Mahaut’s life and the relationship between her and Abel.
I give this book an 8.5 out of 10. The battle sequences are well written and I loved the portions which took place solely within Abel’s mind. But I think the flashbacks could have been reduced without doing any real harm to the main story. Also, I feel that Zentrun’s blindness to the danger to Duisberg posed by the number of large asteroids in its solar system makes no sense. Even if Zentrum for some reason knew nothing about, or had forgotten everything it had known about the solar system it was based in, shouldn’t the array of giant craters told it that if the planet had been hit by that many giant asteroids in the past, the odds of it happening again were incredibly high?