One of the books I’ve been picking away at lately is Dan Moren’s The Bayern Agenda, a quasi-sequel to his debut, The Caledonian Gambit, which I haven’t read. Moren jumped publishers, so the marketing here downplays their connection a bit, and you can read this one without reading the other.
In it, we’re introduced to a global cold war: the Illyrican Empire and Commonweath of Independent Systems are fighting with one another, and when the Illyrican Empire sends emissaries to the Bayern Corporation, a planet-sized bank, the Commonwealth sends its own agents to check it out. Agent Simon Kovalic is forced to hand over his intelligence team to his ex-wife, Lt. Commander Natalie Taylor when he’s injured, who brings in former Illyrican pilot Elijah Brody. When things go sideways, Kovalic is brought in to try and get them out.
The book is a solid military science fiction thriller, and it trades off power armor for spycraft. I’d describe it as John le Carré meets Battlestar Galactica or The Expanse. The book is a measured one: it’s a gripping read, but Moren takes his time getting to some of the action, jumping from character to character, until events really heat up in the last third or so of the read. The book is clearly set in a large world, and I felt like I didn’t absorb much of it, unfortunately, but it feels like it’s a durable enough place that more of that will come out in upcoming installments. (A sequel, The Aleph Extraction, is coming out next March.)
Overall, I enjoyed it. The book reminded me a bit of books like Chris Bunch’s Star Risk Ltd., a fun action space opera series that I picked up in high school, and as I noted on The Verge, it’s the best sort of summer science fiction read: something that isn’t exactly mind-blowing science fiction that will tilt the future of the genre in any particular direction, but which is a perfectly fine adventure. That’s something I’ve always thought was important: sometimes, you just need a fun read.