The Blackcollar

by Timothy Zahn
Series: Blackcollar 1
Reviewed date: 2018 Jun 27
Rating: 3
272 pages
cover art

The Terran Democratic Empire (TDE) has been conquered by the alien Ryqril. Pockets of underground resistance are all that remain. The Ryqril are preoccupied with a war against the Chryselli, so General Kratochvil of the Earth underground sends Allen Caine on a vital mission.

Allen Caine goes undercover posing as Alain Rienzi, and travels to the planet Plinry. His job is to make contact with General Lepkowski on Plinry, and enlist his help in locating a prize that could tip the balance: five Nova-class battle cruisers. Built but never used before the TDE fell to the Ryqril, these five warships have been hidden away, waiting to be recovered and put into service to liberate humanity from their alien overlords.

But first, the warships must be found. General Lepkowski is no help, what with being long dead and all. Caine finds he must trust the Plinry underground: the Blackcollars, a unit of highly trained super-soldiers who now form the Plinry underground resistance.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Seal Team Six
Blackcollars. These super-soldiers fight with nunchucks and throwing stars, because that's cooler than guns. Everything they do is super-awesome and astoundingly cool. Basically every single one of these Blackcollars is Steven Seagal from Under Siege, times ten. The leader of the Blackcollars is a man named Lathe, who is a best, most skilled Blackcollar of all.

With the Blackcollars, Caine manages to pinpoint the location of the five Nova-class battle cruisers, then stage a popular uprising on Plinry. The uprising is a ruse: it buys them just enough time to steal a spaceship and leave Plinry for the planet Argent, which is the nearest planet to where the warships are stashed. But Caine notices a few things the bother him. First, Lathe sends his right-hand man Dodds on a secret mission and doesn't tell anybody about it. Second, Caine realizes that none of the other Blackcollars knew Lathe or Dodds during the war. That is, nobody can vouch for them having actually served as Blackcollars. Could they be spies planted by the Ryqril?

On Argent, they meet up with the local underground resistance. The Plinry Blackcollars don't trust the Argent underground, probably because their organization is riddled with spies. But they make use of them anyway. They round up some star pilots, then go off and recover the hidden battle cruisers.

But oh no! The Ryqril followed them, because one of the Blackcollars was a traitor and a spy. Now the Ryqril will steal the warships before the Blackcollars can get them in working order.

Surprise! Dodds shows up, and he has a Chryselli warship with him. His secret mission was to go get help from the Chryselli. The Chryselli drive the Ryqril away. And double surprise!! Dodds is General Lepkowski. He pretended to have been killed in the war, and was undercover all this time.

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