Book Review: The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham

The galaxy was once terrorized by the Sturm, a group of “species purists” intent on destroying any human with genetic or cybernetic enhancements. Fashioning themselves as the one true “Human Republic,” the Sturm cut a bloody swath across the stars, killing billions before finally being defeated and driven into the far reaches of Dark Space. Centuries of peace bred complacency. Everyone believed the Sturm had died out in the Dark. They were wrong.

The enemy has returned and, with a brutal and decisive attack, knocks out almost all of humanity’s defenses. Now on the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial attack: Commander Lucinda Hardy, thrust into uncertain command of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship. Booker3, a soldier of Earth, sentenced to die for treason, whose time on death row is cut short when the Sturm attack his prison compound. Princess Alessia, a young royal of the Montanblanc Corporation, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed. Sephina L’trel, the leader of an outlaw band who must call on all of her criminal skills to resist the invasion. And, finally, Admiral Frazer McLennan, the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago, who hopes to rout his old foes once and for all—or die trying.

These five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.


The last several years I have been on a self-assigned role of reading and reviewing books by local authors I work with at local events. I had the opportunity to read the synopsis for The Cruel Stars and was intrigued. I didn’t know at the time that it was just the first book in a trilogy. I set it aside to read when I had the time or needed a break from the rest of my ever growing TBR pile. When I was informed of the coming of the second book of the trilogy I shifted gear and decided to dive into this delightful military science fiction story. I found the characters interesting and the story compelling. It is well balanced and doesn’t bog down the story in too much detail or military jargon. The world is well built without taking too long to dive into the peril at the heart of the story. Well done ending that completes the story while leaving enough open to draw you into the next book. I look forward to diving into the next book and seeing how these characters approach the next challenge.


Up next for me is book 2 The Shattered Skies.


Rating: 5/5 Heroes


Until next time, See you among the stacks.