March to the Stars is the third part of Weber & Ringo’s “Price Roger” series. It’s been a long while since I read the first few books, but since the book starts with a recap that wasn’t a big hinderance. Now, this is pure mind candy; maybe not in the “yum, delicious!” sense, but at least in the “easy entertainment” sense. Whether or not you enjoy it depends a lot on how you view “pure entertainment” books in general. This one is pure pulp action adventure.
The plot continues where the previous book left off. Stranded on the planet Marduk, the supposedly useless and spoiled Prince Roger (of a greater human Earth-based empire) together with what remains of “his” space marines battle their way over a hostile planet, trying to reach the space port… which is held by the enemy. Price Roger is now established to actually be not at all useless, so there is less character development on that front than in the previous books. Actually, Roger is shown to be a bit too awesome at times here, I think it worked better when he was a bit less of a general superhero. Anyway, there main portion of the book consists of an ocean voyage, ending up at the shores of a hostile nation. Things happen, and the marines end up helping one group of barbarians against another, nastier group. So far, so standard in this series. However, the end part throws some new spin into the mix. Turns out taking the space port is actually a bit anticlimactic — but getting transit off-planet is anything but. There is also a major plot twist that pretty much screams “more books coming up!”. I’ll avoid spoilers here.
Like I said, it’s ultra-lightweight semi-military adventure scifi. I’m somewhat reminded of the old adventure tales, where a heroic (white, and usually English) man goes off to some exotic location, and ends up helping the local Noble Savages by being so awesome and British, and ending up with all the locals admiring him and his culture. Here, humans are those “white English” and the native Mardukans are those “noble savages”. It could be annoying, but I get the feeling that it’s done at least somewhat intentionally here so mostly it’s just works as flavor and a nod to some retro “adventure romance novels”. The politically right-wing leanings of the authors are mostly kept in check… sure, the main bad guys are communist eco-fanatics, and most the individual bad guys seem to have foreign and vaguely Italian names (with lots of sinisted moustache twirling), but at least some of that has to be a deliberate campy touch. When all is said and done, it’s an entertaining read, especially as travel entertainment when you’re not feeling like anything which requires actual thought.