Into the Hinterlands is essentially the French and Indian War set in space. Allen Allenson is a young colonial gentleman living in a society with very strict rules of behavior. After the death of his elder brother, he is appointed head of the militia and sent to the Hinterlands, a region of interest to two "homeworld" superpowers. Events spiral out of control, and soon it is war between Allenson's homeworld, Brasilia, and Terra, which has cultivated alliances with the Riders, natives of the Hinterlands considered nomadic, savage beasts. While Allenson works to secure the Hinterlands for Brasilia, he questions the value of the colonists' relationship with the homeworlds and wonders if they would better off independent. The cover alone is enough to turn many readers away from this book. Those who choose to read it, however, will find an engaging, if overly complicated story. Much attention is paid to the strict protocol followed by colonial gentlemen in all maters, from how to dress to how to properly have an affair with a friend's wife. The dialogue of gentry characters, often formal as one would expect, sometimes slips into incongruous slang. Great detail is also given on the stream, a type of highway for space travel, and the types of vehicles and animals used to navigate the stream; yet, for all the description, these elements are hard to understand except in the broadest sense. The many battle scenes lack excitement. This is a secondary purchase for collections where science fiction is popular. Reviewer: Bethany Martin
Inheriting his noble family's duties and eager to reestablish his house's failing resources, Allen Allenson sets out on a mission to survey family holdings throughout their intergalactic territory. His astute judgment and knowledge of universal human virtues, however, land him in a critical position as a novice commander of the colonial forces. Allenson proves more than capable of leading his men against greedy Terran invaders as well as the ruthless barbarian "Riders," whose innate ability to navigate the pathways between stars makes them a threat to all settled worlds. Drake ("Lord of the Isles" series) and Lambshead (Lucy's Blade) have written a series opener featuring an honorable and likable hero and an intriguing vision of an intergalactic future. VERDICT Despite a lack of significant female characters and a distinctly old-school approach, this new military sf series should carry the day with fans of the genre and Drake's many readers.