This book is the first of four novels, the next three being Prince of Sparta, Go Tell The Spartans, and Prince Of Mercenaries. When I finished reading the series I remembered a reviewer's comment about H. Beam Piper's classic book Space Viking. "First you read it for the story, then you read it for the characters, then you read it to see how a civilization dies, then you read it to see how a civilization is born." This is a ripping good yarn. Unlike many writers who do military Science Fiction Jerry Pournelle has been there, done that. The battle scenes have the ring of authenticity. The details of conventional and unconventional warfare are presented well and realistically. This is not a great literary classic that will be taught in English LIt classes, but the characters are well thought out and well written for an action adventure novel. By the way, did anyone else catch the similarities between Skilly and Two Knife and Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin in the Modesty Blaise stories by Peter O'Donnell? The fall of the CoDominion and what is left of a stagnant Terran civilization is written in a manner that is disturbingly dark and realistic. This is a world that might have been. Jerry Pournele's vision of military adventures in the twilight of empire owes much to history. The notorious stadium massacre on Hadley is based on the Nike riots in Byzantium. If you want a really good description of what happened in Byzantium read David Drake's intro to his book Caught In The Crossfire, That's one of the best descriptions I've run across. In his novel Jerry fleshes out the bare facts with some political analysis which sheds some light on what may have led to the riots in Byzantium. I've always been suspicious of the official historical accounts.Finally this series shows how a civilization can rise out of the ashes of a dying one. The fears, hopes, actions, and motivations of the characters are well fleshed out. They aren't two dimensional cardboard figures. Even the antagonists have good reasons for what they do. These are people who literally have their world dying about them.All in all I recommend this series. It's a great read.