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
This novel provides examples of:
- Adaptation Expansion
- Action Girl: Yeah, David Weber wrote it.
- 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.
- Badass Army: The Imperial Cadre. One of them takes out two dozen pirates with just a (rather powerful - she had been hunting for very large predators at the time) hunting rifle, a knife, and weapons salvaged from earlier kills.
- Badass Bookworm: A whole planet of 'em!
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 Megarea 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!
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Rish females are two and a half to three meter tall mountains of muscle who are so massively built they look squat even with their height and in combat armour are individually a match for a human tank. Rish males, not so much. Humans, even though they are small and weak by (female) Rish standards, consider them scrawny and puny.
- 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.
- Cassandra Gambit: 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.
- The Cavalry: Marines end the Shallingsport mess by dropping right on top of the terrorists. From orbit.
- The Chosen Many: Alley has spent most of her life being recognized for her intelligence and physical abilities, is singled out right from boot as an exceptional soldier and is recognized by her peers in the Marines as someone truly special and noted for heroism and leadership on the battlefield. When she gets recruited for the Imperial Cadre she's explicitly informed that all of that makes her, at best, average as a Cadre member and for the first time in her life she's not going to automatically be the best among her peers.
- Combat Medic: Alley's "wing" Tannis Cateau is this. More accurately, she's a soldier who doubles as a medic.
- Cool Starship: Megarea 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. It was explicitly mentioned that all the those 25 men needed to do to turn the tables on her was get two of their number back to the shuttle, and she exterminated them before they get a chance. And this is before she gets a Bronze Age Eldritch Abomination on her side!
- Determinator: Alley.
- Doorstopper: 800 pages.
- Dynamic Entry: The Marine rescue force at Shallingsport announces their presence with airstrikes that obliterate the FALA troops assembling for a final rush that would have overrun and killed the last of Alicia's force.
- 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.
- The Empire: Most of humanity belongs to it.
- 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.
- Genre Shift: The two prequel novels are pretty hard military sci-fi, which makes the sudden introduction of a figure from Classical Mythology and shift into Science Fantasy a little jarring - though it should be noted that the original novel was purely Science Fantasy and the first two books were added onto the beginning later to provide more background into Alley's history before she met Tisiphone.
- Grand Theft Prototype: When Alley gets the alpha-synth.
- Happily Married: Alley's parents.
- Heavy Worlder: Alley's wing and combat medic, Tannis Cateau.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Many, as to be expected, including one by a Rish matriarch who allows Alicia to kill her, which will allow the rest of her clan to survive when they return home.
- Colonel Mc Ilhenny combines this with Feed the Mole, he sends out a memo to a very small list of people saying that he expects to identify the traitor within a few weeks and then takes a vacation with no security fully expecting The Mole to attempt to kill him and prove that there is a mole. He does survive but barely.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners / Platonic Life-Partners: The two members forming a Cadre wing are noted to usually spend almost all their time together on duty and off, even taking leave together. Alicia and Tannis spend so much time together the latter eventually is considered another daughter by Alley's parents.
- Idiot Ball: Gyangtse's planetary leaders attempting to arrest a terrorist leader after they promised him safe passage? Yeah, there's no way that's gonna end well.
- Instant-Win Condition: Alley captures a Rish war mother to end a nasty battle immediately.
- Invisibility Cloak: The Wasps' chameleon armor is essentially adaptive camouflage for powered and unpowered armor.
- It's Personal: After the pirates raid Alley's homeworld and kill her entire extended family, leaving her the Sole Survivor (Not to mention 99.5% of the planet's total population), holy fuck is it personal. She kills all the raiders in a state of Tranquil Fury, then spends the rest of book on Roaring Rampage of Revenge against their leaders.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Alicia is noted, on joining the Cadre, of not necessarily being the best in any specific category they evaluate (physical fitness, marksmanship, intelligence, leadership, et cetera) compared to other Cadre personnel, but she's good enough in all of them to stand out even among The Chosen Many.
- That said, among military personnel who aren't the Cadre, she's a Master of All.
- 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.
- Lady of War: Uh yeah, that'd be Alley. See David Weber.
- Last Stand: At the end of the Shallingsport mission, there are 5 Cadre members out of the initial company force of 275 left standing between several hundred enemy troops and several hundred civilians, with 4 others wounded when the Marines make their Dynamic Entry.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Two hundred twenty-two characters are listed in the character list in the back of the book.
- 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-Man Army: Any Cadreman — and they operate in company strength. Alley, with little of her normal Cadre equipment, can take on pirates by the dozen.
- 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.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Brigadier Keita and General Arbatov fill the bill, but the Emperor also demonstrates it at the end when he asks for Alicia's forgiveness for his decision that had led to her resignation. However justified it had been politically, he'd betrayed her loyalty and given the opportunity, he swears (and demonstrates) that he won't make that mistake again.
- Retired Badass: Alley's grandpa: holder of mankind's highest medal, and a Marine to boot!
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Pretty much the whole point of the book.
- Royal "We": In formal contexts, the Emperor's pronouns are plural and capitalized. Off duty, he talks normally.
- 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.
- 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."
- Shout-Out: There are 40,000 Cadre members. Given that they are essentially the Adeptus Astartes in a Lighter and Softer setting (and with David Weber writing, so there's none of that "Women can't be Space Marines" BS), this is probably not a coincidence.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Alicia, Tisiphone, and Megarea frequently get into it with each other.
- Space Marine: That'd be Alley again.
- 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 while humans are more likely to join in the joke.
- 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.
- Take a Third Option: Faced with a Rish clan that has been forced into a situation where they either win or will commit suicide (with nukes) before losing, Alicia comes up with a plan that involves a surprise attack on their headquarters and hand-to-hand combat with their leader, beating her and forcing her Rish subordinates to peacefully surrender.
- 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.
- Uriah Gambit: The Rish matriarch who was behind the Shallingsport ambush is punished several years later for the failure of the operation when she and her entire clan are sent on what is essentially a suicide assault on a human planet.
- 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.
- Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: Invoked by the Rish by analogy when they refer to the human Emperor using masculine pronouns. Rish will refer to humans regardless of sex using female terms if they are being polite or consider the human a Worthy Opponent. Using male terms to describe anyone is considered an insult by the Rish as Rish males are small, weak, and considered generally pathetic.