A novel by David Weber. It's an expanded version of Path of the Fury, which centers on elite drop commando Alicia DeVries' Roaring Rampage of Revenge across the galaxy as she hunts down the pirates who slaughtered her family. She has two key allies, though: a sentient starship named Megaira and an honest-to-gods Greek Fury named Tisiphone, who lives in her head. In Fury Born fleshes out Alicia's past: specifically, her military career from the academy to her induction into the Marine Corps to her getting recruited into the ranks of the Imperial Cadre: the most elite military branch humanity has to offer.This is a fairly hard military science fiction novel, and it incorporates ideas found in Weber's other stories, such as a strong female hero, imperial naval-style combat and vessels similar to his Honor Harrington series, and bioimplants similar to his Heirs of the Empire series.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Most of the AIs in this novel are notably ... unstable. Most characters find them disconcerting.
Aristocrats Are Evil: Both averted and played straight: several imperial dukes and senators are awaiting trial for treason at the end of the book, but the Emperor of Man himself seems like a nice enough guy.
Bad Ass: It's reasonable to say that all the main characters fall under this category.
El Greco had been a scholar's world, renowned for its art academies and universities, before the League Wars. Then the Rish moved in during the first Human-Rish War, and alien occupation came to the groves of academe. El Grecans might have been highbrows and philosophers, but that hadn't meant they were airheads, and the Rish soon discovered that they'd caught a tiger by the tail. The academics of El Greco warmed up their computers, set up their data searches, and turned to the study of guerrilla warefare, sabotage, and assassination as if preparing to sit their doctoral orals. Within a year they had two divisions tied down; by the time the Sphere gave it up as a bad deal and left, the Rishathian garrison had grown to three corps...and was still losing ground.
Badass Family: Alicia DeVries is the granddaughter of one of the most highly decorated marines in Imperial history. The two of them represent the only family unit that has had more than one living holder of the Empire's highest military honor in it at the same time. The villain's field commander would later go on to say that if he had known they'd been living on Mathison's World, he'd have bombed their home from orbit instead of sending in a shuttle of raiders. (And that would have been the right call—despite having numbers, weapons, and surprise on their side, every raider on that shuttle dies. And that's not counting what happened to the villains because that platoon of raiders wasn't able to take Alicia down with them.)
Badass Grandpa: Alley's grandfather was a former marine and holder of the Empire's highest military honor. During an attack on his family's homestead, he kills four raiders... after he left cover in a vain attempt to keep a grandson from getting killed. The raider's leader comments to himself that it if weren't for that kid, the old man would have gotten a lot more.
Battle in the Center of the Mind: The book contains several instances where Tisiphone and Megaira have to work together to keep Alley's madness/bloodlust at bay before she gets them all killed.
Big Freaking Gun: The military's plasma cannons count, as do hypervelocity missiles. HWVs! They're not just for capital ships any more!
Caffeine Bullet Time: Called The Tick, one of the top-secret cocktails of drugs administered to a Cadreman via his internal pharmacope works exactly like this. It significantly speeds up the soldier's perceptions, making it seem that time has slowed down. He's not really any faster, but his reaction time goes off the charts. Pretty helpful in a battlefield situation, but beware the comedown — as you come off The Tick, overwhelming nausea knocks you out of the action for a few minutes.
Casual Interstellar Travel: This being a Weber novel, this is pretty much averted. However, once a ship with a Fasset Drive hits the speed of light, it enters wormhole space, where it can reach at least 1,400 times light speed relative to the rest of the galaxy.
The Cavalry: Marines end the Shallingsport mess by dropping right on top of the terrorists. From orbit.
Combat Medic: Alley's "wing" Tannis Cateau is this. More accurately, she's a soldier who doubles as a medic.
Cool Starship: Megaira is a rare Alpha-synth starship: basically a single-seater destroyer, only lightning fast and armed to the teeth with an unparelleled EW suite.
Meg's stolen Bengal-class assault shuttle also counts. It's painted black and red, complete with eyes painted on the fuselage, jagged-toothed mouths painted on the muzzles of its cannons, and flames painted onto the engine pods.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Alley's fight with the raiders after her family is killed is pretty damn one-sided. She gets home after the attack, activates The Tick, kills several raiders silently with her knife, then uses her fifty-caliber big game rifle to kill more raiders (including their leader as he tries to run), gets several grenade kills (complete with Unflinching Walk), and manages to wipe out all 25 remaining raiders singlehandedly while shot several times and bleeding out. And this is before she gets a Bronze Age Eldritch Abomination on her side!
Eldritch Abomination: Alicia absorbed part of Tisiphone in order to not die, and was eventually driven insane by the Fury's elemental, overwhelming rage. Tisiphone explained that Alley had forced a connection through an unused psychic link to her and tapped her basic structure. Tis is an immortal, semi-divine personification of punishment. Alley is a human being. Alley's mind broke.
Faster-Than-Light Travel: The novel uses Fasset Drives — that is, a ship generates an artifical black hole that draws the ship toward it. At the same time, the black hole moves away from the ship since the ship is generating the thing. This leads to unlimited acceleration. When the ship hits 1.0c, something technobabbly happens and the ship enters wormhole space, where it can go much faster than should be possible (to the tune of several thousand times the speed of light).
As far as FTL sensors go, gravitic sensors can pick up on gravity wells at speeds much faster than light. Since any ship with FTL capability generates a huge gravity well, it can be picked up at incredible distances with gravitic sensors. This leads to odd events such a ship's gravitic sensors reporting an orbital fortress destroyed while it looks just fine on the viewscreen... only because the viewer is seeing the fortress before its destruction.
A Father to His Men: There's a reason why everyone in the Cadre addresses Brigadier Keita as "Uncle Arthur".
Gatling Good: Calliopes are the equivalent in this story. They come in all flavors, from human-carryable to assault shuttle-mountable. They shoot armor piercing tungsten penetrators very, very quickly.
Kick the Dog: Commodore Howell's execution of his reluctant fire control officer.
Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Capital ships use a combination of energy and physical weapons, but small arms are almost exclusively projectile-based; except for the neural disruptor, that is, which is an instant kill weapon and can stun a target with a near-miss. As Alley's enemies find out the hard way, all Cadre drop-commandos have their brains surrounded with a sort of Faraday cage to negate disruptor effects. There's a reason for this - lasers don't work very well in atmosphere, and can be disrupted by aerosol grenades in vacuum, but bullets work everywhere.
Military Academy: Alley attends one on Old Earth; for centuries it's been producing the best marines humanity has ever seen.
Judging by the location and age, it's probably supposed to be Parris Island, currently used by the United States Marine Corps.
Old Soldier: Brigadier Sir Arthur Keita is over a hundred years old, and while he's no longer going on missions in person, he's still on active duty as second-in-command of the Imperial Cadre - and it's implied that he could get General Arbatov's job as head of the Cadre at any time if he wanted it.
One Riot, One Ranger: The Cadre puts it as "One crisis, one company." In the Empire's 400 year history, less than twenty situations have occurred which have merited needing the Cadre to deploy a larger force. When Admiral Montoko learns that Keita is planning to send a battalion of them to capture the leaders of the pirate fleet that killed his brother, he gets a brief Oh Crap moment on their behalf.
Powered Armor: Marines have it, and so do some FALA terrorists. Cadre drop commandos have powered armor on crack.
Reactionless Drive: Ships use a singularity drive for STL travel, generating a black hole that pulls the ship forwards. It also makes for an inversion of Weaponized Exhaust, since the drive singularity greedily devours incoming ordnance.
Retired Badass: Alley's grandpa: holder of mankind's highest medal, and a Marine to boot!
Sapient Ship: More like self-aware AI ship. The AI controlling the Alpha-synth imprinted on Alley. Since she's a drop commando and not a trained Alpha-synth pilot (having a Fury living in her mind didn't help much either), the ship didn't fuse completely with her mind. The human and AI became symbiotes of a sort: separate entities merged together.
Sarcastic Confession: Keita asks Alley to explain how she survived a week in the snow with fatal injuries. Alley knows he'll spot it immediately if she lies, so she tells him the pure truth—that her life was saved by a being out of Greek mythology—and simply lets him assume she's crazy.
Saved by the Awesome: In Inspector Ben Belkassem's words, "when the Emperor awards the sole living holder of the Banner of Terra his personal thanks for services rendered, it would be downright tacky to send the recipient to prison for grand theft, however grand it was."
Starfish Aliens: The Quarn: Imagine a giant starfish mixed with a giant spider. You're pretty close. Oddly, humans and Quarn get along really well. Humans and Quarns don't like to live in the same planets or environments, so that eliminates a lot of potential conflict areas. And unlike the Rish, humanity can take a joke.
Being fully hermaphrodite, the Quarn think sexual dimorphism is a joke. The Rish think it's Serious Business.
Super Soldier: The Imperial Cadremen and Cadrewomen are highly intelligent, physically powerful, and disruptor-proof; sporting three advanced data interfaces wired into their bodies, augmented by a top-secret internal pharmacope which can induce Caffeine Bullet Time; all in a Powered Armor shell.
They are so much the Super Soldier that their numbers are restricted by law to 40,000, and the selection criteria is so demanding that they still can't fill in all of the slots - in an Empire with a population in the trillions.
It's also mentioned that the military could buy, equip, and crew a Corvette for the amount they spend training and equipping a single drop commando.
Sword and Gun: During the nasty Shallingsport battle, Alley engages FALA terrorists (who are wearing Powered Armor) with a pistol in one hand and a force blade in the other after she runs out of ammunition for her battle rifle. She would shoot an enemy in the face with her pistol and while he was stunned, she'd slice him up with the force blade. The FALA armor would stop the bullet, but not the blade.
Technical Pacifist: At first, Alley's dad seems like he's one (he even has the genes that predispose him to nonviolence)... until he blows away five raiders who are attacking his family, and would have gotten more if he hadn't needed to stop to reload.
Telepathy: Tisiphone's presence makes Alley a touch telepath.
You Are in Command Now: Alley really moves up the chain of command quickly during the Shallingsport raid due to this.
To put this in perspective, at the start of the drop, she's a mid-level sergeant (Not to mention the most junior sergeant in her grade in the entire Cadre, much less the company), about 30 minutes later, every single person higher ranked than her is dead. She then leads them to victory against impossible odds.