Classic, horrifc trench warfare ensues, with strange doings and interesting interactions between unusual pairings in the Ghost lineup. There is also the start of a curious romance between an unlikely duo.
- Steampunk Retro. As if World War I in space was not bizarre enough, the Alliance and their enemies the Shadik are full of anachronistic oddities like Bird Cavalry, Clanking Dreadnaught tanks, old school chemical weapon attacks, rail mounted siege artillery, and trench raid attacks.
- Serious character development. There is a lot going on in this book with well known, if underdeveloped characters like Larkin, Cuu, Mkvenner, and Raglon
- The Romance. It's funny because it's so awkward. 'Nuff said.
- A Story In Two Halves. This seems to be a recurring theme in this story arc, with the first half devoted to gritty trench action, and the second half detailing a scout oriented 'Behind Enemy Lines' type of action for which the Ghosts are more suited. Not as much a problem for me this time, as the two halves blend a little more seamlessly than in The Guns of Tanith, where they seemed like two different books.
- Contrived Hand Tying. Making the Ghosts subordinate to the Aexeians felt forced. I understand Von Voytz would never post them in the trenches if given the choice, but the Warmaster allowing his forces to be under 'Alliance Supreme Command' does not seem like something that would really happen. That seems to me like having a four star army general in the U.S. Army report to the mayor of Des Moines, Iowa.
- Till It's Over Over There. The Ghosts are pulled out before final victory is secured on Aexe. Understandably, the author does not fix the 40 year old war in the last chapter, and the Ghosts did make serious contributions to the overall effort, but this is the first time in the series that the Ghosts are there at the climax. As they leave Aexe, he war is still roaring on, albeit in the right direction.