March Upcountry (Empire of Man Series #1)

March Upcountry (Empire of Man Series #1)

by David Weber, John Ringo

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Overview

March Upcountry (Empire of Man Series #1) by David Weber, John Ringo

The Royal Brat is in Trouble

Roger Ramius Sergei Chiang MacClintock didn't understand.

He was young, handsome, athletic, an excellent dresser, and third in line for the Throne of Man...so why wouldn't anyone at Court trust him?

Why wouldn't even his own mother, the Empress, explain why they didn't trust him? Or why the very mention of his father's name was forbidden at Court? Or why his mother had decided to pack him off to a backwater planet aboard what was little more than a tramp freighter to represent her at a local political event better suited to a third assistant undersecretarv of state?

It probably wasn't too surprising that someone in his position should react by becoming spoiled, selfcentered and petulant. After all, what else did he have to do with his life?

But that was before a saboteur tried to blow up his transport. Then warships of the Empire of Man's worst rivals shot the crippled vessel out of space. Then Roger found himself shipwrecked on the planet Marduk, whose jungles were full of damnbeasts, killerpillars, carnivorous plants, torrential rain, and barbarian hordes with really bad dispositions. Now all Roger has to do is hike halfway around the entire planet, then capture a spaceport from the Bad Guys, somehow commandeer a starship, and then go home to Mother for explanations.

Fortunately, Roger has an ace in the hole: Bravo Company of Bronze Battalion of The Empress' Own Regiment. If anyone can get him off Marduk alive, it's the Bronze Barbarians.

Assuming that Prince Roger manages to grow up before he gets all of them killed.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743435383
Publisher: Baen
Publication date: 05/28/2002
Series: Empire of Man Series , #1
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 6.76(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.02(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Weber is a science fiction phenomenon. His popular Honor Harrington & Honorverse novels—including Mission of Honor, At All Costs, and Torch of Freedom — are New York Times bestsellers and can't come out fast enough for his devoted readers. He is also the author of the Safehold series of books, including Off Armageddon Reef and By Schism Rent Asunder. His other popular novels include Out of the Dark, the Dahak books and the Multiverse books, written with Linda Evans.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

"His Royal Highness, Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock!"

Prince Roger maintained his habitual, slightly bored smile as he padded through the door, then stopped and glanced around the room as he shot the cuffs of his shirt and adjusted his cravat. Both were made from Diablo spider-silk, the softest and sleekest material in the galaxy. Since it was protected by giant, acid-spitting spiders, it was also the most expensive.

For his part, Amos Stephens paid as little attention as possible to the young fop he had so grandly announced. The child was a disgrace to the honorable name of his mother's family. The cravat was bad enough, and the brightly patterned brocade jacket, more appropriate for a bordello than a meeting with the Empress of Man, was worse. But the hair! Stephens had served twenty years in Her Majesty's Navy before entering the Palace Service Corps. The only difference between his years in the Navy and his years in the Palace was the way his close-cropped curls had shifted from midnight black to silver. The mere sight of the butt-length golden hair of the farcical dandy Empress Alexandra's younger son had become always drove the old butler absolutely mad.

The Empress' office was remarkably small and spare, with a broad desk no larger than that of a middle-level manager in any of the star-spanning corporations of Earth. The appointments were simple but elegant; the chairs sensible, but elaborately hand-crafted and covered in exquisite hand-stitching. Most of the pictures were old master originals. The one exception was the most famous. "The Empress in Waiting" was a painting from life of Miranda MacClintock duringthe "Dagger Years," and the artist, Trachsler, had captured his subject perfectly. Her eyes were open and smiling, showing the world the image of an ingenuous Terran subject. A loyal upholder of the Dagger Lords. In other words, a filthy collaborator. But if you stared at the painting long enough, a chill crept over your skin and the eyes slowly changed. To the eyes of a predator.

Roger spared the painting one bare glance, then looked away. All of the MacClintocks lived under the shadow of the old biddy, long dead though she was. As the merest--and least satisfactory--slip of that lineage, he had all the shadows he could stand.

Alexandra VII, Empress of Man, regarded her youngest child through half-slitted eyes. The carefully metered bite of Stephens' ironic announcement had apparently gone over the prince's head completely. Roger certainly didn't seem affected by the old spacer's disdain in the slightest.

Unlike her flamboyant son, Empress Alexandra wore a blue suit of such understated elegance that it must have cost as much as a small starship. Now she leaned back in her float chair and propped her cheek on her hand, wondering for the hundredth time if this was the right decision. But there were a thousand other decisions awaiting her, all of them vital, and she'd spent all the time she intended to on this one.

"Mother," Roger said insouciantly, with a micrometric bow, and glanced at his brother in the flanking chair. "To what do I owe the honor of being summoned into two such august presences?" he continued with a slight, knowing smirk.

John MacClintock gave his younger brother a thin smile and a nod. The galaxy-renowned diplomat was dressed in a conservative suit of blue worsted, with a practical damask handkerchief poking out of one sleeve. For all that he looked like a doltish banker, his poker face and sleepy eyes hid a mind as insightful as any in the known worlds. And despite the developing paunch of middle-age, he could have become a professional golfer ... if the job of Heir Apparent had allowed the time for it.

The Empress leaned forward abruptly and fixed her youngest with a laser stare. "Roger, We are sending you off-planet on a 'show the flag' mission."

Roger blinked several times, and smoothed his hair.

"Yes?" he replied carefully.

"The planet Leviathan is celebrating Net-Hauling in two months--"

"Oh, my God, Mother!" Roger's exclamation cut the Empress of Man off in mid-sentence. "You must be joking!"

"We are not joking, Roger," Alexandra said severely. "Leviathan's primary export may be grumbly oil, but that doesn't change the fact that it's a focal planet in the Sagittarius sector. And there hasn't been a family representative for Net-Hauling in two decades." Since I repudiated your father, she didn't bother to add.

"But, Mother! The smell!" the prince protested, shaking his head to toss an errant strand of hair out of his eyes. He knew he was whining and hated it, but the alternative was smelling grumbly oil for at least several weeks on the planet. And even after he escaped Leviathan, it would take several more weeks for Kostas to get the smell out of his clothes. The oil made a remarkable musk base; in fact, it was in the cologne he was wearing at the moment. But in its raw form, it was the most noxious stuff in the galaxy.

"We don't care about the smell, Roger," snapped the Empress, "and neither should you! You will show the flag for the dynasty, and you will show Our subjects that We care enough about their reaffirmation of alliance to the Empire to send one of Our children. Is that understood?"

The young prince drew himself up to his full hundred ninety-five centimeters and gathered the shreds of his dignity.

"Very well, Your Imperial Majesty. I will, of course, do my duty as you see fit. It is my duty, after all, is it not, Your Imperial Majesty? Noblesse oblige and all that?" His aristocratic nostrils flared in suppressed anger. "Now I suppose I have some packing to oversee. By your leave?"

Alexandra's steely gaze held him for a few moments more, and then she waggled her fingers in the direction of the door.

"Go. Go. And do a good job." The "for a change" was unstated.

Prince Roger gave another micrometric bow, turned his back quite deliberately, and stalked out of the room.

"You could have handled that better, Mother," John said quietly, after the door had closed on the angry young man.

"Yes, I could have." She sighed, steepling her fingers under her chin. "And I should have, damn it. But he looks too much like his father!"

"But he isn't his father, Mother," John said quietly. "Unless you create his father in him. Or drive him into New Madrid's camp."

"Try to teach me to suck eggs, why don't you?" she snapped, then inhaled deeply and shook her head. "I'm sorry, John. You're right. You're always right." She smiled ruefully at her older son. "I'm just not good at personal, am I?"

"You were fine with Alex and me," John replied. "But Roger's carrying a lot of loads. It might be time to cut him some slack."

"There isn't any slack to cut! Not now!"

"There's some. More than he's gotten in the last several years, anyway. Alex and I always knew you loved us," he pointed out quietly. "Roger's never been absolutely sure."

Alexandra shook her head.

"Not now," she repeated more calmly. "When he gets back, if this crisis blows over, I'll try to..."

"Undo some of the damage?" John's voice was level, his mild eyes unchallenging, open and calm. But then, he looked that way in the face of war.

"Explain," she said sharply. "Tell him the whole story. From the horse's mouth. Maybe if I explain it to him it will make more sense." She paused, and her face hardened. "And if he still is in New Madrid's camp, well, we'll just have to deal with that as it comes."

"But until then?" John met her half-angry, half-saddened gaze levelly.

"Until then we stay the course. And get him as far out of the line of fire as possible."

And as far from power as possible, as well, she thought.

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March Upcountry 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Y
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thanks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this first book in the series. The transition of the Prince during the journey was interesting. Would like more character development on the Mardukans, but I expect that will come in later episodes. All in all it was a fun read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was worried that this was going to be a light read that would act as a fill in story between a couple of more "serious" books. Boy was I mistaken. Fun, well written, exciting, and intelligent. Now I can't wait to start the second book.
Robingps More than 1 year ago
Prince Roger is a great series by two great writers. Nuff said.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've always loved this series, even though I really don't kknow why. It's not particularly well written (seriously, how many times can you call someone a fop without it just being ridiculous), the military characters all are self-righteous jerks with sticks up their behinds, and O'Casey is a raging imbecile whose so-called "expertise" is little short of a joke. But I like Roger, Kostas, and the Mardukans, so I guess somehow that outweighs rhe woodenness of the writing for me.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book. I cannot put it down. The authours never leave you bored. Every chapter is brimmimg with excitement!
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