Anyone who tells me that David Weber is not one of the finest authors in any genre had better explain him or herself quickly or find themselves in some discomfort. Given that, I am not sure why this book was not one of the best I have ever read. It is set in the Imperium universe he created, which is great (heroes, villains, millennia old starships and dead worlds, etc.)but still, this book is only okay. Actually, most books tend to go down the tubes when they are about children for some reason (see Nemesis by Asimov as an example). Also, the bit on the planet seemed very similar to A Fire Upon The Deep. Mr. Weber created a universe of great breadth and possiblities, but he didn't use them here. Where are the Achuultani? Where are the grand vistas of time and space? I was hoping for some sort of conclusion to the Achuultani saga, or at least get to watch the forging of the Fifth Imperium, but instead it was time for Emperor Colin's Neighborhood. The strange thing is that even though I had complaints about the plot of this book, Mr. Weber is such a great author that I could not put it down. Even though I would have preferred a different story, the one I got was pretty good itself. I implore Mr. Weber not to ditch this series until it is over, because it is my favorite. (Even above that other triumph, the Honor Harrington epic).