The Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds is the latest novella featuring the character of Merlin. The story is a standalone and begins when Merlin discovers a derelict spaceship that appears to be deserted. When that doesn’t turn out to be entirely true, he finds himself with a passenger, Teal, and a trip to another star system with the hope of obtaining a part for his own ship that he hopes will aid him in the interstellar war against the deadly Huskers, who destroy starships and worlds.
Upon entering the star system, Merlin finds himself in the middle of a long-standing interplanetary war. It turns out that Teal and Merlin both may have a larger role in the system’s war than either of them understood.
Reynolds manages to pack a lot into a novella length story. The plot is interesting and the characters entertaining. It is difficult to truly flesh out characters in a story of this size, but Reynolds nevertheless gives you a good idea of who they are. The story is a complete arc, but it also leaves you curious about the larger universe and what comes next. An excellent story.
I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.