by Richard Cartwright
Stand Against the Storm is a must read
All too often a book series loses steam and becomes repetitive. Stand Against the Storm is the fourth book in Peter Grant’s popular Maxwell Saga and this entry shows no sign of slowing down or reinventing the wheel. If this is your first dive into the adventures of Steven Maxwell, don’t worry about starting with Stand Against the Storm. Peter does an excellent job of filling in the back story by a series of conversations that explain Maxwell’s motivations and associations, some of which you might not expect a normal naval officer to have, not even a space naval officer. That said, you are truly missing out if you don’t read the three prior books; Take the Star Road, Ride the Rising Tide, and Adapt and Overcome. Each installment stands on its own as a good story but, as the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Even more so here as Peter Grant does not write two dimensional characters and the astute reader of all the books can recognize how choices made in the first book affect decisions in Stand Against the Storm.
The book opens with Senior Lieutenant Steven Maxwell serving as a navigator on a naval transport vessel that is tasked to support a humanitarian mission to a non-aligned planet that had just put down a rebellion. Maxwell is soon detached to manage a supply with next to no security and support because, you don’t need security since the rebellion has been put down. Support shouldn’t be any problem for Steven’s command because he has the prisoners captured during the rebellion as support personnel. Did I mention this was a prison planet? Sorry. Just think of Mogadishu with less respect for human life, law and order.
Of course, nothing is what it supposed to be, and while some of the solutions to make to mission work are familiar to anyone who has been there, done that, Grant takes his characters in some unorthodox directions to do the right thing. I find it refreshing to read a book where the characters are fully formed characters dealing with hard situations in a way where the right thing is more important than your next promotion board, but fully cognizant that you may well be trashing your career, provided you survived in the first place.
If you like military science fiction with plenty of action, twists and turns and an individual journey worth following, then read Stand Against the Storm. But to really grasp how good a writer Peter Grant is, read Take the Star Road, Ride the Rising Tide, and Adapt and Overcome first.