Hope Reborn (2003) is the first SF omnibus in the General series. It contains two novels: The Forge and The Hammer.
Bellevue is a planet far from the center of the Federation. When the galactic government fell a thousand years ago, Bellevue was abandoned.
The Civil Governor was the chief Administrator of Bellevue. After the Fall, military forces on the planet seized control of areas around their headquarters. The Settlers and Colonists resisted these military units.
Now the Civil Government is only one of the polities on the planet. Priests claim that the Federation Fell because of the sins of the galactic population. They assert that Computer will only come again when enough people return to the old religion.
The Forge is the first novel in this series. Raj and Thom are examining the catacombs under the New Residence. They have found rats, bones and enough computer artifacts to supply the priesthood for a few generations. They have penetrated deeper than ever before.
Then Thom sees a light. It is nothing like the lights used by the nobility. They follow it to a jammed sliding door.
Raj uses a crowbar to slide the door a little to the side. It sticks at that point, but they can see down a shaft. There is a floor below them.
Raj and Thom link their belts together. Raj rappels down first and then Thom. Bones cover the floor. Yet they have not been chewed by vermin.
Then mirrors appear around them. Raj fires all five rounds in his pistol, but the mirrors don't break. Instead, the bullets ricochet off them.
Then Thom is frozen in midair. A voice in Raj's mind says that he will do. The voice tells him that Center has chosen him to reunite the planet. Raj believes that Center is an angel of the Computer.
Leaving Thom behind in stasis with Center, Raj returns to duty. Barholm is holding court in the Hall. As the delegations present requests to the Vice-Governor, Center shows Raj the probable results. The Vice-Governor tries to pacify the petitioners, but the Chancellor would rather take their wealth and impoverish them.
Then a delegation from the Halvardi says that the Colonists are sending their best general with an army to conquer them and control their passes. Barholm sends them to the War Ministry. But he also ends the audience and calls a council of his military advisors.
The other advisors give the usual advice, but Raj has gotten an idea from the hidden visions presented by Center. Barholm likes his plans and starts apportioning tasks to the advisors. He sends Raj with Hemlt and two battalions of troops to the borderlands.
The Hammer is the second novel in this series. Raj returns to the catacombs and finds Thom again. For Thom, the time since their last meeting has been only a moment, but Raj has spent almost two years fighting the Colonists. Center briefs Thom on the events during that time, but knowing is not the same as doing.
Raj returns to his suite with dust and grime on his clothes. Suzette figures that he has been in the catacombs, but focuses on getting him ready for the audience. Barholm is conferring with his top military leaders and chancellor about a Southern Territories Expedition.
When Raj arrives, he finds the military arguing against the Expedition. None of them want to try to retake the Civil Government's southern territories from the Squadron. The previous expedition twenty years before had been decisively defeated and they don't consider the endeavor any more feasible under current conditions.
Raj, however, doesn't view the mission as hopeless. The Squadron has not upgraded their fleet in recent years and hasn't fought a major action since the last Civil Government invasion. He states that it can be done with thirty thousand troops and probably with only fifteen thousand.
Barholm gives Raj command of the Southern Territories Expeditionary Force and promotes him to Brigadier General. The other military leaders are happy that they don't have the job. Raj submits his list of units to Barholm the next morning.
Tzetzas likes the less expensive plan. Unfortunately, he is also figuring how divert some of the money into his own pocket. Raj has Muzzaf keep an eye on the supply shipments.
Raj gets many of the troops that he had in Sandoral. He also gets Poplanish's Own commanded by Ehwardo. Unfortunately, he gets the 17th Hemmar Valley Cuirassiers commanded by Dalhouse. Raj also gets many more infantry, which he puts under Jorg.
After a month of frantic efforts, the Southern Expedition is ready to embark. They will sail south along the coastline, unloading the troops and dogs every night. Raj again wishes for a permanent administrative staff for field armies, but that is not going to happen.
These tales chronicle the rise of Raj to preeminent commander in the Civil Government. Yet his rise has gained him enemies. The Governor also suspects him of ambition to take the throne.
This volume is a reprint of Warlord, That volume was followed by Conqueror.
Raj has an easier time against the Squadron, but the Colonists are only regrouping after loss of their leader. The next omnibus installment in this sequence has not yet been announced on Amazon, but a new book in the series -- The Heretic -- has just been released.
Highly recommended for Drake & Stirling fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of armed conflict, field tactics,and a bit of romance. Read and enjoy!
-Arthur W. Jordin