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5.0 out of 5 stars Defies genre conventions by combining action and adventure with challenging political and ethical analysis (4.5 stars), 20 July 2014
Note: Some books which are part of a series can be read as standalone novels. However, to truly enjoy this book, I would recommend first having read its predecessor, Fire with Fire.

I originally picked up Fire With Fire because it was nominated for a Nebula -- and found myself quite pleasurably surprised by what was marketed as Military Science Fiction, from a publisher who is known for that genre. That book was so much more: action-adventure and military strategy, yes -- but also an intelligent dissection of political themes, with a couple of intricately-plotted mysteries built into the story.

As its sequel, Trial By Fire does not disappoint. In addition to furthering the story with an alien invasion and the Terran response to take back their world, it also pulls out surprising twists which make clear the depth of thought which went into the author's plot design.

This novel is another of the author's trademark blends: action-adventure with ships, weapons, and battles, crossed with growing character development and sophisticated intellectual analysis of politics and motivations, undercut with an intriguing mystery which continues to reveal further unexpected intricacies.

I am now looking forward to the next entry in the series so much that I *almost* wish I had waited for its release before reading this one. Almost -- except that it was just too enjoyable to postpone reading it. Fortunately, there's an associated free short story "A Thing of Beauty" over at Baen to help sate my desire for more.

Ultimately, this is a satisfying book on its own, while still piquing my interest in where the series will be going in the future.
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