Rating: 4.5 Stars 

Publisher: NineStar Press

Genre: LGBT Sci-Fi 

Tags: Sci-fi/Fantasy, Gay, Lesbian, Military, Erotic Aspects, Romantic Aspects, Series 

Length: 70,400 Words 

Reviewer: Kazza 

Purchase At:  amazon, NineStar Press

Blurb:

In the far reaches of the Kyleri Empire, young Captain Mahnoor travels around the system to escape the cultural pressures to marry. But his infatuation with a handsome imperial pilot leads him into a galactic war.

On Jiwani, Viscamon is attempting to consolidate his power, by blaming the Ingvar for the royal massacre and calling armies from across the Empire to track down the missing prince, and achieve his dream of destroying the Galactic Balance. However, Antari knows the truth about Osvai and must find the courage to stand up to the prince’s enemies, and his own, no matter the risk.

Meanwhile on Aldegar, Daeron is being held prisoner by the few remaining Ingvar forces and must find a way to break free to rescue his mother and the crew of the Daring Huntress once again, as well as the missing Prince Osvai, before the Kyleri come to take back what’s theirs.

Sallah, no longer the last Tevian, returns to Aldegar with no choice but to enlist the help of the man she hates and the woman she once loved to see her son again.

As the Galactic Balance tips ever more towards chaos, time is running out to save Ales from the destructive forces he has unleashed.

Review:

The Galactic Captains series is well named because in every book we meet at least one captain or captain-in-waiting. The first, and the principal character throughout, is Captain Ales, but we travel with others along the way as Ales is not always physically front and centre. Destructive Forces is another book where Ales is an integral person, someone who the Verge unwittingly gravitates around and toward, but is absent as he and thousands of Ingvarian military ships have just slipped through a Horizon Point.

This is quite the episode for subplots and plots coming together and for some extra background on MCs or strong primary characters of mostly previous books, although Mahnoor is new. It’s also a book of more questions raised. Everything is drawing inexorably closer to what I hope is going to be a huge conclusion, one with all the threads tied up – personal, military, the galactic balance. There is more about the seeming lack of stability of the Horizon Points and the megacollider, about new galaxies, about the the state of the Outer Verge and nearby systems/planets/beings which are heading toward a full scale war. About relationships that have been forged, as well as lust, love, and all points in between. There is also the issue of what lies beyond the Horizon Point and how Ales will return from there. How he’ll be tracked is definitely unique, and by whom should make for fascinating reading in the next book.

Destructive Forces continues the vivid world building of the previous three books. Of the characters listed as primary ones, Mahnoor is the least interesting in this series so far. That may change, but I just couldn’t get into him. Luckily there are others I already have a strong connection to, or developed a further affinity with; like Antari. There are many POV in this book and Antari’s was really good. The cast of characters keeps growing and it isn’t always MCs, this series is very much an ensemble piece.

The subplots and primary arcs that are developing are incredibly intriguing. They make sure I want to grab each book as it’s released. I’ll list some of the POV and primary characters below with extra details, but you cannot read this book without having started at the beginning. Even with a glossary of characters and places at the back, it isn’t enough to give you the connection you need to start here.

Mahnoor is new. He’s a Kandian, an ethnic minority, living on Jandar, a backwater planet within the Eichot System ruled by the Empire of a Million Suns, or the Kyleri Empire. He dreams of escaping a life of being one husband of many for one woman. He’s same-sex attracted anyway so it’s totally unappealing. Exploring space is far more attractive than being part of a large harem and a life of farming. He wants to be an imperial class captain but being Kandian means he’s rejected at every turn. However, he does captain a transport between local planets, but he’s pretty certain military life is going to pass him by. A few incidents occur, the Outer Verge being on the brink of war being one, some political wheedling being another, and Mahnoor suddenly finds himself on an imperial ship after all.

Sallah and Sanya, once lovers torn apart when Teva was destroyed and for other reasons I wont go into, are reunited on Aldegar where Sallah has been working for the Ingvarians on their megacollider. She’s a physicist who has been responsible for research on STAR drives that can allow travel far beyond the Outer Verge and also on  galinium-R ignition that creates Horizon Points that allow spacecraft entry to places that normal slipstreams don’t. Captain Sanya, initially of the Daring Huntress, is a tough captain who is a bounty hunter and makes sure her crew have plenty of work, doing dangerous jobs as necessary. On her last mission she was set-up on a false mission to Aldegar where she and her crew, the ones who weren’t killed, are taken as prisoners.

Antari has worked his way up the Kyleri chain of military command. Some of it because of targeted sexual  harassment by/reluctantly sleeping with Nolani, his immediate commander, and some of it is because he made sure Daeron and Osvai escaped after the bomb blast that rocked Jiwani. Antari has always said he  helped an injured ambassador of the Seven Suns  escape so that there would be no diplomatic blow-back on the Kyleri, a story he sold well. He has a personal history with Daeron after Daeron released him when he was held on the Daring Huntress, and they have a sexual connection as well, something Antari thinks of often. A number of the men and women in this series have a sexual link. Some have a romantic connection. Where these lead will all be rather riveting.

Daeron and Osvai are also on Aldegar after Daeron piloted them off Jiwani when the bomb blast killed Osvai’s father at the banquet. As well as getting Osvai away, Daeron was also attempting to rescue his mother on Aldegar. Osvai and Daeron met under, uh, unusual circumstances and love has been declared between the two, even though they are from different places and class structures and the Kyleri Royals are homophobic. All captives on Aldegar are initially held in separate cells from one another. Daeron and Osvai have been tortured for information about why they’re on Aldegar. Daeron hasn’t told anyone who Osavai is and Osvai has also kept his lips sealed. Then Turo turns up and all hell breaks loose as he certainly knows Prince Osvai and just how important, and bothersome to some, he is as the heir to the largest galactic empire. There are those Kyleri who believe their prince is dead and others who are hopeful he is still somewhere in the Verge. The difference lies in who they believe killed their emperor and who is to gain the most benefit… and isn’t it amazing that Turo always knows where to turn up?

Lord Viscamon is Prince Osvai’s uncle and his father’s adviser. Another I have never liked, but with Viscamon it’s cut and dry. He’s one calculating arsehole with designs on as much power as possible and doesn’t care who he treads on to get it. Under his current directive, Kyleri nobles are either being ‘persuaded’ to his way of thinking or held in the underground baths under the guise that it isn’t safe above ground since the emperor’s murder and the prince is missing. He asserts the Ingvarians must have detonated the bomb that killed the emperor and he needs to bring the culprits to justice. Viscamon has his own people who have infiltrated various planet’s and government’s military. How many there are and just how loyal they’ll prove to be to him is about to be tested.

Turo is Ales’ bastard of a lover? master? sadist? Definitely all ’round annoyance of mine. You know how there’s this character right from the start you just don’t like? Can’t find much redeeming about them (although there was one thing) but maybe you’re wrong…? Anyway, they continue to annoy the crap out of you, even in series book (add your own number.)  That’s Turo for me. Is this a bad thing? No. Personally I like a good antagonist, and he’s definitely that. I’m wondering if there’s going to be a big twist of redemption or if he’ll die quite horribly. I outlined a few suggestions in my Goodreads review. I’ll bring the popcorn.

Every character has a role to play in this series and all are interlinked in some way, although not everyone knows this. There are events about to unfold with some potentially huge ramifications. Will Prince Osvai regain his rightful place, or will he reject it? Will cutting off the neck of the driving force behind it all be able to stop what has started? The talk of immortals – is it a myth or a reality? What does that mean for everyone? Will Ales return and what will he have discovered? Will he dump Turo’s arse in a spectacularly satisfying way? Do my lovebirds Daeron and Osvai find some happiness? What’s ahead for Antari? because he likes Daeron too. What’s happening with Ukko? Sanya and Sallah, can they truly recover from their years of animus once this mission is over?

“And you blame me for having lost your son.”
 “Not anymore.” Sallah lifted her hand gently onto her former lover’s shoulder, but she shrugged it off.
“But you did. And you put my own son in danger, my only son. Infinity knows where he is in this forsaken place.”

Will Xenia lose it over them? Then there’s that speech of Ales’ that holds more sway than some in power know.

One thing for sure is Lord Acton’s quote of absolute power corrupts absolutely is true for this book. That beings are so easily polluted by the idea of power – will use others and justify any means to an end, not giving a damn about the repercussions of their actions – rings true, whether on Earth or one of the many planets these series books vibrantly describe. There are also those in this series who don’t subscribe to the Nuremberg defence and they fight the good fight. So, who’s going to win?

Despite the amount of characters, there were still a few missing. It will be interesting to see if they’re in the next instalment and where they fit in all the machinations. For any potential readers, Destructive Forces ends on a huge cliffhanger to be continued in Altered Tides. If I bit my nails they’d be nubs.

This series can be quite intensely and aggressively erotic, that wasn’t the case with Destructive Forces. Yes, there is a flashback of Turo’s to Mahlbar, I still feel no pity for him, and another scene I won’t mention for spoiler reasons. I’m not sure why that was in there but perhaps it’s one of those unanswered questions of mine, and Harry F Rey does like to add a twisty moment….

In a sea of same-same books in the MM or gay or LGBT genre, The Galactic Captains is a breath of fresh air. I recommend the well named Destructive Forces to those who have already read and enjoyed the Galactic Captains series so far, or for people who might like to start at book #1, Siege Weapons, and work their way through because this review might pique interest. 4.5 Stars!