Right away, I will confess that I loved the first two installments of this story. Now, with this third novel of the Evan Gabriel trilogy, author Steve Umstead closes his masterful science fiction epic. Or maybe “odyssey” would be a better word, since we finally get to see the culmination of a journey through the protagonist’s personal hells as well as through political and military machinations.
Picking up where Gabriel’s Return left off, Gabriel’s Revenge again sets Commander Gabriel in the midst of intrigue that is the product of interstellar power plays and personal vendettas. Set primarily in and around Mars, Umstead delivers, once more, an immensely satisfying scifi world that demonstrates a rich blend of research and imagination. From the strategic posturing of political powers, to intense firefights on the surface of the Red Planet, Revenge delivers a lot.
This trilogy is definitely a triumph of scifi world making. The action remains fast paced and enthralling. Having read the first two books in the trilogy, I found myself, at certain key points in the story, thinking such thoughts as “I’m pretty sure the Otero suits can survive that.” Why does that matter? It’s evidence that Umstead has created a solid science fiction world, with rules that the reader has come to understand and rely upon. This has made the reading experience more real, and more intense when Gabriel and his team are thrown into the thick of combat. This is another strength that once more plays out in Gabriel’s Revenge: there is layer upon layer of intrigue, personal and political, that drives the story forward, but the military action keeps the story moving at an exciting pace.
If there is a flaw, it’s that there is almost too much resolution at the end. This is a completely subjective observation, but the hallmark of the Gabriel trilogy is the grittiness, and I would have expected more of a lingering tone of the aftershocks of the conclusion of this epic story. But considering the ambitious scope covered by these three novels, I can easily look past this. This book, and the series as a whole, deserves the attention of any lover of science fiction.