The Martian General’s Daughter, set two hundred years in the future in a world reminiscent of Imperial Rome, is about General Peter Black, the last decent man as told by his devoted and illegitimate daughter. Once again, the empire is thrown into turmoil as powerful figures struggle for the throne and Peter Black is caught in the middle.
As the title of the book implies, the story is as much about the general’s daughter, Justa, as it is about the man himself. Because she is illegitimate, she is raised in Black’s household and soon becomes his most trusted and devoted companion. Justa is just as important to the story as the general is. While the “main” plotline is set in the present, the majority of the story is told in flashback covering the reign of the Luke Antony. The General faithfully served the old emperor and felt obligated to do the same for his son. However, the son’s reign soon degenerated into a mad tyranny worthy of the Nero or Caligula.
The book draws heavily on Imperial Roman culture, religion, and politics. The correlation becomes stronger throughout the book as a nano weapon that destroys technology besets the empire, throwing society back several centuries. One of the main themes is the juxtaposition of simple, decent people caught up in the environment of decadence and corruption of absolute power. And it should not be lost on the reader that the birthplace of the book’s Pan-Polarian empire is in North America. Indeed, the allusions to ancient Roman tyranny are hard to miss, but thankfully the author manages not to overdo this story of the final stages of an empire’s collapse.
A cautionary tale on the consequences of supreme power, The Martian General’s Daughter is recommended for fans of both ancient Rome and military science fiction.