We Few (Empire of Man Series #4)

We Few (Empire of Man Series #4)

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by David Weber, John Ringo

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Prince Roger MacClintock was an heir to the galaxy's Throne of Man-and a self-obsessed spoiled young brat . . . until he and the Royal Marines sent to protect him were stranded on Marduk with only their feet to get them half way around the entire planet. So far, they've traversed a continent, crossed a sea full of ship-eating monsters, taken over an enemy spaceport

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Prince Roger MacClintock was an heir to the galaxy's Throne of Man-and a self-obsessed spoiled young brat . . . until he and the Royal Marines sent to protect him were stranded on Marduk with only their feet to get them half way around the entire planet. So far, they've traversed a continent, crossed a sea full of ship-eating monsters, taken over an enemy spaceport, and hijacked a starship. But they're not home-free yet, because home is no longer free. In Roger's absence, a palace coup by enemies of the MacClintock family has seized control of the Empire. His mother the Empress is a captive in the palace and even in her own body, drugged so that her will is not her own. Roger's bother, the heir to the throne, is dead. And Roger himself has been branded an outlaw and traitor. Roger and his faithful band of human marines and native alien warriors have beaten the barbarian planet Marduk. Now they must re-conquer an interstellar empire. But they aren't about to give up, and with the help of those on the throne planet who are still loyal to the Empress they will infiltrate (under cover of a restaurant specializing in exotic Mardukan dishes, no less), they will make anyone who gets in their way (such as local mobsters who make the mistake of kidnapping Roger's fiancé) very sorry that they did, and they will not rest until the rightful ruler has been restored. Once again, a lot of power-hungry people are going to learn a hard lesson: You do not, ever, mess with a MacClintock!

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Editorial Reviews

The Prince Roger Saga takes a fateful turn. Royal brat Roger MacClintock and his Royal Marine guards have conquered the barbarian planet of Marduk, but they are not home free yet, because their home is no longer free! In the prince's absence, palace plotters have seized control of the empire. Roger's brother, the heir to the throne, has been murdered, and his mother, the Empress, is being held captive, a prisoner in her own regal home. Military sci-fi at its very best.

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Publication date:
Empire of Man Series, #4
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.02(w) x 6.62(h) x 1.27(d)

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We Few

By David Weber John Ringo

Baen Books

Copyright © 2005 David Weber & John Ringo
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7434-9881-X

Chapter One

Imprimus, they nuked the spaceport.

The one-kiloton kinetic energy weapon was a chunk of iron the size of a small aircar. He watched it burn on the viewscreens of the captured Saint special operations ship as it entered the upper atmosphere of the planet Marduk and tracked in perfectly. It exploded in a flash of light and plasma, and the mushroom cloud reached up into the atmosphere, spreading a cloud of dust over the nearer Krath villages.

The spaceport was deserted at the moment it turned into plasma. Everything movable, which had turned out to be everything but the buildings and fixed installations, had been stripped from it. The Class One manufacturing facility, capable of making clothes and tools and small weapons, had been secreted at Voitan, along with most of the untrustworthy humans, including all of the surviving Saint Greenpeace commandos who had been captured with the ship. They could work in the Voitan mines, help rebuild the city, or, if they liked nature so much, they could feel free to escape into the jungles of Marduk, teeming with carnivores who would be more than happy to ingest them.

Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock watched the explosion with a stony face, then turned to the small group gathered in the ship's control room, and nodded.

"Okay, let's go."

The prince was a shade under two meters tall, slim but muscular, with some of the compact strength usually associated with professional zero-G ball players. His long blond hair, pulled back in a ponytail, was almost white from sun bleaching, and his handsome, almost beautiful, classic European face was heavily tanned. It was also lined and hard, seeming far older than his twenty-two standard years. He had neither laughed nor smiled in two weeks, and as his long, mobile hand scratched at the neck of the two-meter black and red lizard standing pony-high by his side, Prince Roger's jade-green eyes were harder than his face.

There were many reasons for the lines, for the early aging, for the hardness about his eyes and shoulders. Roger MacClintock-Master Roger, behind his back, or simply The Prince-had not been so lined and hard nine months before. When he, his chief of staff and valet, and a company of Marine bodyguards had been hustled out of Imperial City, thrust into a battered old assault ship, and sent packing on a totally nonessential political mission, he had taken its as just another sign of his mother's disapproval of her youngest son. He'd shown none of the diplomatic and bureaucratic expertise of his older brother, Prince John, the Heir Primus, nor of the military ability of his older sister the admiral, Princess Alexandra, Heir Secondary. Unlike them, Roger spent his time playing zero-G ball, hunting big game, and generally being the playboy, and he'd assumed that Mother had simply decided it was time for him to steady down and begin doing the Heir Tertiary's job.

What he hadn't known at the time, hadn't known until months later, was that he was being hustled out of town in advance of a firestorm. The Empress had gotten wind, somehow, that the internal enemies of House MacClintock were preparing to move. He knew that now. What he still didn't know was whether she'd wanted him out of the way to protect him ... or to keep the child whose loyalty she distrusted out of both the battle and temptation's way.

What he did know was that the cabal behind the crisis his mother had foreseen had planned long and carefully for it. The sabotage of Charles DeGlopper, his transport, had been but the first step, although neither he nor any of the people responsible for keeping him alive had realized it at the time.

What Roger had realized was that the entire crew of the DeGlopper had sacrificed their lives in hopeless battle against the Saint sublight cruisers they had discovered in the Marduk System when the crippled ship finally managed to limp into it. They'd taken those ships on, rather than even considering surrender, solely to cover Roger's own escape in DeGlopper's assault shuttles, and they'd succeeded.

Roger had always known the Marines assigned to protect him regarded him with the same contempt as everyone else at Court, nor had DeGlopper's crew had any reason to regard him differently. Yet they'd died to protect him. They'd given up their lives in exchange for his, and they would not be the last to do it. As the men and women of Bravo Company, Bronze Battalion, The Empress' Own, had marched and fought their way across the planet they'd reached against such overwhelming odds, the young prince had seen far too many of them die. And as they died, the young fop learned, in the hardest possible school, to defend not simply himself, but the soldiers around him. Soldiers who had become more than guards, more than family, more than brothers and sisters.

In the eight brutal months it had taken to cross the planet, making alliances, fighting battles, and at last, capturing the spaceport and the ship aboard which he stood at this very moment, that young fop had become a man. More than a man-a hardened killer. A diplomat trained in a school where diplomacy and a bead pistol worked hand-in-hand. A leader who could command from the rear, or fight in the line, and keep his head when all about him was chaos.

But that transformation had not come cheaply. It had cost the lives of over ninety percent of Bravo Company. It had cost the life of Kostas Matsugae, his valet and the only person who had ever seemed to give a single good goddamn for Roger MacClintock. Not Prince Roger. Not the Heir Tertiary to the Throne of Man. Just Roger MacClintock.

And it had cost the life of Bravo Company's commanding officer, Captain Armand Pahner.

Pahner had treated his nominal commander first as a useless appendage to be protected, then as a decent junior officer, and, finally, as a warrior scion of House MacClintock. As a young man worthy to be Emperor, and to command Bronze Battalion. Pahner had become more than a friend. He'd become the father

Roger had never had, a mentor, almost a god. And in the end, Pahner had saved the mission and Roger's life by giving his own. Roger MacClintock couldn't remember the names of all his dead. At first, they'd been faceless nonentities. Too many had been killed taking and holding Voitan, dying under the spears of the Kranolta, before he even learned their names. Too many had been killed by the atul, the low-slung hunting lizards of Marduk. Too many had been killed by the flar-ke, the wild dinosauroids related to the elephant-like flar-ta packbeasts. By vampire moths and their poisonous larva, the killerpillars. By the nomadic Boman, by sea monsters out of darkest nightmares, and by the swords and spears of the cannibalistic "civilized" Krath.

But if he couldn't remember all of them, he remembered many. The young plasma gunner, Nassina Bosum, killed by her own malfunctioning rifle in one of the first attacks. Corpora Ima Hooker and Dokkum, the happy mountaineer from Sherpa, killed by flar-ke almost within sight of Ran Tai. Kostas, the single human being who'd ever cared for him in those cold, old days before this nightmare, killed by an accursed damncroc while fetching water for his prince. Gronningen, the massive cannoneer, killed taking the bridge of this very ship.

So many dead, and so far yet to go.

The Saint ship for which they'd fought so hard showed how brutal the struggle to capture it had been. No one had suspected that the innocent tramp freighter was a covert, special operations ship, crewed by elite Saint commandos. The risk in capturing it had seemed minor, but since losing Roger would have made their entire epic march and all of their sacrifices in vain, he'd been left behind with their half-trained Mardukan allies when the surviving members of Bravo Company went up to take possession of the "freighter."

The three-meter-tall, horned, four-armed, mucus-skinned natives of The Basik's Own had come from every conceivable preindustrial level of technology. D'Nal Cord, his asi-technically, his "slave," since Roger had saved his life without any obligation to do so, though anyone who made the mistake of treating the old shaman as a menial would never live long enough to recognize the enormity of his mistake-and Cord's nephew Denat had come from the X'Intai, the first, literally Stone Age tribe they had encountered. The Vasin, riders of the fierce, carnivorous civan, were former feudal lords whose city-state had been utterly destroyed by the rampaging Boman barbarians and who had provided The Basik's Own's cavalry. The core of its infantry had come from the city of Diaspra-worshipers of the God of Waters, builders and laborers who had been trained into a disciplined force first of pikemen, and then of riflemen.

The Basik's Own had followed Roger through the battles that destroyed the "invincible" Boman, then across demon-haunted waters to totally unknown lands. Under the banner of a basik, rampant, long teeth bared in a vicious grin, they'd battled the Krath cannibals and taken the spaceport. And in the end, when the Marines were unable to overcome the unexpected presence of Saint commandos on the ship, they'd been hurled into the fray again.

Rearmed with modern weaponry-hypervelocity bead and plasma cannon normally used as crew-served weapons or as weapons for powered armor-the big Mardukans had been thrown into the ship in a second wave and immediately charged into the battle. The Vasin cavalry had rushed from position to position, ambushing the bewildered commandos, who could not believe that "scummies" using cannon as personal weapons were really roaming all over their ship, opening shuttle bay doors to vacuum and generally causing as much havoc as they could. And while the ... individualistic Vasin had been doing that, the Diaspran infantry had taken one hard point after another, all of them heavily defended positions, by laying down plasma fire as if it were the rank-upon-rank musketry which was their specialty.

And they'd paid a heavy price for their victory. In the end, the ship had been taken, but only at the cost of far too many more dead and horribly injured. And the ship itself had been largely gutted by the savage firefights. Modern tunnel ships were remarkably robust, but they weren't designed to survive the effect of five Mardukans abreast, packed bulkhead-to-bulkhead in a passage and volley-firing blast after blast of plasma.

What was left of the ship was a job for a professional space dock, but that was out of question. Jackson Adoula, Prince of Kellerman, and Roger's despised father, the Earl of New Madrid, had made that impossible when they murdered his brother and sister and all of his brother's children, massacred the Empress' Own, and somehow gained total control of the Empress herself. Never in her wildest dreams would Alexandra MacClintock have closely associated herself with Jackson Adoula, whom she despised and distrusted. And far less would she ever have married New Madrid, whose treasonous tendencies she'd proven to her own satisfaction before Roger was ever born. Indeed, New Madrid's treason was the reason she'd never married him ... and a large part of the explanation for her distrust of Roger himself. Yet according to the official news services, Adoula had become her trusted Navy Minister and closest Cabinet confidant, and this time she had announced she did intend to wed New Madrid. Which seemed only reasonable, the newsies pointed out, since they were the men responsible for somehow thwarting the coup attempt which had so nearly succeeded.

The coup which, according to those same official news services, had been instigated by none other than Prince Roger ... at the very instant that he'd been fighting for his life against ax- wielding Boman barbarians on sunny Marduk.

Something, to say the least, was rotten in Imperial City. And whatever it was, it meant that instead of simply taking the spaceport and sending home a message "Mommy, come pick me up," the battered warriors at Roger's back now had the unenviable task of retaking the entire Empire from the traitors who were somehow controlling the Empress. The survivors of Bravo Company-all twelve of them-and the remaining two hundred and ninety members of The Basik's Own, pitted against one hundred and twenty star systems, with a population right at three-quarters of a trillion humans, and uncountable soldiers and ships. And just to make their task a bit more daunting, they had a time problem. Alexandra was "pregnant"-a new scion had been popped into the uterine replicator, a full brother of Roger's, from his mother's and father's genetic material-and under Imperial law, now that Roger had been officially attainted for treason, that fetus became the new Heir Primus as soon as he was born.

Roger's advisers concurred that his mother's life would last about as long as spit on a hot griddle when that uterine replicator was opened.

Which explained the still dwindling mushroom cloud. When the Saints came looking for their missing ship, or an Imperial carrier finally showed up to wonder why Old Earth hadn't heard from Marduk in so long, it would appear a pirate vessel had pillaged the facility and then vanished into the depths of space. What it would not look like was the first step in a counter coup intended to regain the Throne for House MacClintock.

He took one last look at the viewscreens, then turned and led his staff off the bridge towards the ship's wardroom. Although the wardroom itself had escaped damage during the fighting, the route there was somewhat hazardous. The approaches to the bridge had taken tremendous damage-indeed, the decks and bulkheads of the short security corridor outside the command deckhead been sublimed into gas by plasma fire from both sides. A narrow, flexing, carbon-fiber catwalk had been built as a temporary walkway, and they crossed it carefully, one at a time. The passageway beyond wasn't much better. Many of the holes in the deck had been repaired, but others were simply outlined in bright yellow paint, and in many places, the bulkheads reminded Roger forcibly of Old Earth Swiss cheese.

He and his staffers picked their way around the unrepaired holes in the deck and finally reached the wardroom's dilating hatch, and Roger seated himself at the head of the table. He leaned back, apparently entirely at ease, as the lizard curled into a ball by his side. His calm demeanor fooled no one.


Excerpted from We Few by David Weber John Ringo Copyright © 2005 by David Weber & John Ringo. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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We Few 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
While marooned for eight months (and three books) with the Empress Own marines on Marduk, Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chaing MacClintock learns to survive the hard way while watching most of his comrades die. Death turns Roger from hedonistic ¿Playboy Prince¿ to leader of the Bravo Company; his troops would die for him as many already have as ¿The Basik's Own¿......................... Freed from Marduk, he learns that his biological father and Prince Jackson Adoula of Kellerman overthrew his mother Empress Alexandra, killed his siblings and her grandchildren, blamed Roger for the murders, and use the former ruler as a puppet. Roger and his unit of twelve soldiers supplemented by a few hundred Mardukans, a ghost and a few other people need allies. However first he must prove he is innocent before they can confront Adoula and his sire, and hopefully rescue his mother. Yet those he needs on his side are apt to kill him before he can say one word to persuade them that he did not kill his siblings or others of his kin and that he is worthy of their support as he is no longer the Playboy Prince, but instead a fighting leader with a cause.................. The latest Prince Roger fantasy is an action packed tale with the freshness that the playboy is back ready to perform as heroic rescuer. Roger¿s metamorphous seems genuine and the support cast is superb especially his parents, Adoula, the ghost, and the hero¿s pet. Although newcomers would be better off reading the previous novels as references refer to those tales, WE FEW can stand alone as a stirring military continuation of a terrific saga.................... Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'll admit, if you haven't read 'March Upcountry', 'March to the Sea' and 'March to the Stars' you might feel a little lost on this one but I can guarantee if you want to catch up, you won't be disappointed! Roger proves himself to be his mentors' best student by orchestrating a multi-pronged mission to rescue his mother, the Empress of Man, from the evil traitors who control her by force. Along the way we see diplomacy, political intrigue, high stakes clandestine operations, all out ground war, space battles, romantic wrangling, culinary triumphs & emotional upheaval. There was so much going on at such a roller coaster pace I was certain the authors would never tie it up at the end. I was wrong, they did so masterfully. The final scene was one of the best I've ever read in a series. A satisfying read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chaing MacClintock was known as the 'Playboy Prince' before he found himself marooned on the inhospitable planet of Marduk. He had one hundred and ninety Marines, Bravo Company, of the Empress' Own. It took three previous novels for them to get off Marduk. Along the way, Roger discovered that he was the heir of Miranda MacClintock, the first Empress of Man, and one paranoid and devious woman. The 'Playboy Prince' no longer worried only about his fashionable clothing. Roger grew up fast, the hard way. During the eight months on Marduk, Roger became a leader that Bravo Company could look up to. A vital member of their group, as well as, to the Empire. Now there are twelve survivors of Bravo Company. Some Mardukans have been recruited into Roger's service as The Basik's Own. That title is an inside joke. You will have to read the series to understand. ............................................. The Basik's Own now has a challenge before them that may put all their previous perils to shame. The coup launched by Jackson Adoula, Prince of Kellerman, has obviously succeeded. Roger's mother, Empress Alexandra, is being controlled by the same people who had murdered her children and her grandchildren. Yet no one seems to realize it. Either that, or there is nothing they can do about it. To make matters worse, the coup and murders are all blamed on Roger. ............................................. The Basik's Own must gain some dangerous allies, slip into the Empire, locate and meet with crucial military leaders, convince them of Roger's innocence and to help, find weapons, form a plan, retake the palace, save the Empress, capture Adoula and the Earl of New Madrid (Roger's biological father), and save the Empire. ............................................. Prince Roger of House MacClintock will prove, once and for all, that he is nothing like his despised father. Prince Roger is totally Empress Alexandra's son! And Hades is about to get a lot of new customers! .................................................................... ...................... **** An excellent continuation to the series by two authors who have proven themselves to be a formidable team. The first three novels had more battles and readers got to watch Roger morph into a true ruler. In book four, readers learn just how devious Miranda MacClintock was (and in some ways, still is). There are more strategies and a little more romance in this one also. Sergeant Nimashet Despreaux returns to help balance Roger and takes on a larger role in the books' plots. .................................................................... ...................... All-in-all, David Weber and John Ringo have another winner with this novel. Fans will NOT be disappointed. But if you have not read the first three in this series, purchase them quickly and read them in order. Otherwise, you will find yourself lost at times during this tale. Personally, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. ****
soljerblueSR More than 1 year ago
I came to this series because the title of the first book, "March Upcountry" resonated, provoking memories of Xenophon's "Anabasis" which I read many years ago. By the time the four shuttles of the Bronze Barbarians had landed in that Mardukian salt flat, I was hooked. I was not, and still am not, a particular fan of science fiction, but I've become a fan of David Weber. After finishing "We Few" quite recently, the hook has been set deep indeed. While the fourth book wraps up the series nicely, it was -- in my estimation -- what Churchill once referred to as "the end of the beginning." Prince Roger's journey, with his companions both human and Mardukian, leaves me hungering for more -- much more. It has been said that Mr. Weber feels the series is concluded, while his co-author, Mr. Ringo, wants it to continue. I will hazard a guess that there are many, many readers who feel as Mr. Ringo does, and would welcome more about the new emperor of the Empire of Man. If Mr. Weber can extend the Honor Harrington series to the extent he has, he can hopefully do the same for Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock and The Basik's Own. And I hope that he will.
Guest More than 1 year ago
(The Chaos Years) Seems to me that the series is not finished. There are too many threads hanging, including Prince Ding-a-ling out with the Saints. Also the saints themselves.
Robingps More than 1 year ago
An excellent entry in the series. Maybe the best one. Great book!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The first 3 books average 600 pages, while the final 'bring it home' piece boasts less than 400. Taking time to acquaint us with characters in the final 50 pages was a waste of good battle space, combined with the constant re-hash of older books to bring people who were accidentally reading the last in a series of 4 books up to speed was a waste of the first 50. The final fade to black left no tingles and jingles and hardly faded. What a waste of a good story.