Book Review: The “Troy Rising” Trilogy by John Ringo

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Live Free or Die, the first book in the series

I have previously reviewed John Ringo’s work, specifically his second Posleen War book, Gust Front. Truth be told, I found him to be an entertaining writer, but not necessarily one of the greats in science fiction.

However, the Troy Rising trilogy changed my perspective on him.

This first trilogy follows humanity as an alien race makes contact and extends to Earth the chance to be part of their portal network. After this occurs, Tyler Vernon, previously a webcomic artist, finds out that the aliens really like one product Earth has to offer. He ends up monopolizing this product and selling it at a high price to the aliens. As a result, he consolidates wealth and power in an attempt to better mankind’s standing within the galaxy.

There are aliens who do not see humanity as an asset, however, and would rather conquer them. The series uses this as a point of tension and plot development, going so far as to alter humanity at the genetic level.

The stakes increase from book to book, and ultimately the series builds to a satisfying third installment.

The series expands to include multiple interesting science fiction ideas:

  • First is the concept of Troy itself: a gigantic fortress created from a hollowed asteroid for the human forces to use as both a space station and a spacecraft. The size of the creation is expertly relayed to the reader, and Ringo does a good job of hitting home how amazing all of this is.
  • Second is the development of artificial intelligence. These AI are interesting in that they exist to work a single purpose, not to act as human intelligences. As such, they have unique personalities, sure, but their uniqueness as minds comes into play later in the series, and is an interesting development on its own.
  • Third is the SAPL, a system of interconnected mirrors that focus solar light/radiation. The system has been mentioned in other works, so it’s not exactly is unique idea from Ringo, but the way it’s used in the story is excellent, especially how it is specifically created for space mining. I also liked the element of AI being the only mind that could properly calculate its usage.
  • Fourth is the retrovirus that the Horvath infect humanity with at one point. This virus makes specific human females very likely to procreate, the idea being that the Horvath would eliminate more of the planet but save a select number of humans and selectively breed them to be slaves of the Horvath. It’s an interesting idea, and from a conquering alien standpoint makes sense.

(EDIT: I forgot to mention these ideas are developed in the story from science fiction, because the Earth was approached later in its development, so we had science fiction entertainment and most alien races did not.)

From this, Ringo works well to create a universe for fun science fiction that has interesting concepts, characters, and plot; this is everything you could ask for in science fiction! I would recommend it to fans of Military Science Fiction especially, but hard sci-fi fans will find some interesting ideas in it.

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