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Publisher's Summary

The humans wage war across space. But who is the real enemy? 

Mykonian fleet Operative Rafe Hastings has spent several tours around Belia trying to keep weapons traffickers from tearing the local space habitats apart. He’s eager to go home when an informant passes him dire news about an infamous cartel boss named Lilith. Not only has she acquired nuclear weapons, but she has somehow gained permission from the mysterious robotic overlords of inhabited space - the Wardens - to use them.   

The battleship Tsunami is dispatched to investigate Rafe’s discovery. and veteran operations Officer Sean Merrick soon finds himself caught in a conspiracy involving feuding Wardens. With allies dying all around him, his only hope for survival turns out to be a junior combat nurse named Sarah Riley who has scarcely fired a gun before.   

As Rafe, Sean, and Sarah battle Lilith, they’ll be forced to rely on the unexpected to save the people they love. But with the Wardens constantly changing the rules, could it be that no matter who wins the war, everyone loses?    

Grab this exciting debut military sci-fi novel from Brian Mansur, perfect for fans of Alastair Reynolds, Jack Campbell, and Ken Lozito.  

©2019 Aethon Books (P)2019 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Action-packed, tightly written, and with characters that come alive, this is a military sci-fi novel that grabbed and held my attention at the cost of several good nights’ sleep. A perfect example of a great novel and an impressive debut." (Jasper Scott, USA Today best-selling author of Dark Space)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Jas P
  • 2019-04-16

Brilliant Debut Story - Outstanding Narration!

Captive Embers is in a word, ‘Captivating’. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)
This is Mansur’s debut novel, and he has created a fascinating backdrop of political intrigue in which to tell his story. With multiple Colonies of species at different levels of development all controlled by these Omnipotent ‘Wardens’ and their set of rules, we learn about this Galaxy through multiple main characters, a Spy, Rafe, the 2nd in Charge of a Battleship Sean, a Nurse who is also aboard the same ship Sarah, the head of a Criminal Organisation, Lilith, as well as multiple minor characters.
Each of these characters brings a unique aspect to the story, tells a particular part of the story, allowing the pieces of the puzzle to slot together very nicely, providing this riveting, fast paced military thriller about a Galaxy that although seems like it is all nicely controlled and running smoothly under the control of these ‘Wardens’, is actually on the brink of all out war. Rafe is trying to find shipments and distributors of weapons and deployment systems that will destroy colonies. Sean and Sarah are on the same ship, the Battleship Tsunami, a very apt name as they are walking into a storm, looking for weapons being freighted about by a criminal organisation. A Criminal Organisation run by our other main Character Lilith.
The great thing is that there is an opportunity to just give you all the story as you have all the major players. But Mansur doesn’t. He uses each of the characters to give you just enough to build the story, allowing it to unfold naturally, allowing you to try and make a bunch of seriously wrong guesses as there are some awesome twists and turns as the story plays out.
I don’t want to give too much away, but basically the galaxy has a collection of colonies of different races, all mandated by rules that are governed by the Wardens, these robots. Step out of line, they come down on you hard. There are rules for everything, including weapons. However, a crime syndicate has managed to get hold of colony killing weapons, and no one knows why. The crew of the Tsunami has to find out why, and stop them before something horrendous happens. I’m seriously busting at the seams wanting to write more, but that would ruin all the fun!! You will have to listen to it – and it is so worth it.
The characters are very real as well, Sean and Sarah have a fairly instant connection when they meet, and due to their time together, this grows, but this isn’t just because the book needs some romance angle, the relationship is incredibly real and natural. Mansur has gone to a lot of trouble to make the dialogue between his characters seem real, not forced, or over-the-top as is the case in a lot of newer Mil Sci-Fi books these days.
This is an outstanding Debut Novel, and regardless if you like thrillers, action, Mil Sci-Fi, there is something for everyone. My only disappointment with this book is that I got an early copy of it, and now I have to wait for part 2!! I should note though, even though I got an ARC, I had already pre-ordered both the book and the audio-book as it is well worth it, and I will be listening to it again when I get the chance. This is a Must Listen.
The Narration is exceptional, clear, concise so as to be easy to understand, but with an easy flowing ‘Story Telling’ voice that allows you to just sit back and settle in and get swept away with the story. Aiello has a great range of voices, so that there is a distinctive quality between each of his characters, both male and female, allowing you to easily understand who is talking at any time.
This is one of those great combinations where it is actually better to ‘listen’ to the book than actually read it as Aiello does such a great job of reading it, it is such a pleasure to listen to.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Willis Burns
  • 2019-04-16

A BEAUTIFUL story!

I can't even express how beautiful this story is. It's not just military sci-fi. This is the expression of human nature. Every person on this planet (and beyond) can relate to the struggles these characters (who all feel very real and fleshed out, by the way) face. Do yourself a favor... read this book!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • patricia
  • washington
  • 2019-04-25

exciting

lots of action and drama the characters were well written and the narrator was really good. if the narrator is poor the who story becomes yuk!!
this narrator was very good

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • kemyd
  • 2019-05-03

non stop action

Another unbiased opinion. There's space explosions and battles galore here. Heart break and hope and even a little love story. Non stop action and the plot of the story is great. A little graphic on the gore and torture. I like the idea of the AI overlords and the culling. The story is told well and narration is to notch.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Charles A.P. Wetherington
  • 2019-04-20

Excellent Military Science Fiction!

Very involving and full of surprises ! The author has excellent flow of story line. The narrator performed professionally with good vocal pressure from situation to situation and character to character.
I recommend this story for ages 17 and older due to tension and violence.
I was given this audiobook for free and I freely give my opinion and rating

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Beau Hookks II
  • 2019-04-16

Captive Embers Captured My Heart!!!

You HAVE to get this book!!!
From the moment I met Rafe and his wonderful family I was hooked! There's no way Mansur is a debut author! Scott Aiello brings to life a tremendous story of love and redemption with military accuracy and storytelling precision!!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Max R
  • Tampa, Florida
  • 2019-04-29

Fantastic book with one small exception

I picked up this book because I really enjoy Scott Aiello's work in this particular brand of book. He's got an excellent voice and cadence for Military SF. He does a commendable job in this book, just as he has done in all of the other books that I've listened to which he has narrated. His characterizations of both male and female characters (also small children) are varied and distinct. You'll never wonder who is talking. I was particularly impressed with his performance of the antagonist Lilith. He made her just the right amount of crazy without going over the line into silliness. So, to absolutely nobody's surprise, A+ Scott!

Brian Mansur does a fantastic job of building the world(s) in which this book takes place. His characters are rich and compelling, the story is very engaging and really brings the reader into the story. I can probably count on one hand the times it was difficult to suspend disbelief inside the book. The tech seemed reasonable and so did the problems resulting from a rather significant technical imbalance between warring factions. I also enjoyed the human elements of his story. There were several very human storylines that added a lot of depth through the entire book.

**Minor Spoiler Alert**
The only reason that I didn't give the book 5 stars was a little bit of a gut-churning sequence relating to the enslavement of children in the last hour of the book. It was SO jarring when it happened and how it was described. I guess it's because my own kid has been sick lately that I was just particularly susceptible to that particular plot device. I feel like it bothered me more than it should have, it's not overly graphic or anything. But, having said all that, I guess it's also great writing that Mansur was able to make me care that much!

On the whole, it's a great potential beginning to a fantastic Mil-SF series. I'd definitely listen to other stories in the same universe... especially if Aiello reads them! It's one for the "would recommend to friends list" folks!

**Note: I asked for and received a promotional copy of this book and have voluntarily left this review**

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Lonnie-The GreatNorthernTroll-Moore
  • Portland Or. USA
  • 2019-04-28

The stakes are high...

The stakes are high in this planet destroying conflict... A mob boss gets access to nuclear weapons, as in planet destroying weapons... but really is she the true enemy? It's true she needs to be put down like the rabid dog she is, but who gave her access to such massively destructive capability in the first place? I found the side story of the meta-beings gaming to be as interesting and fun, as was the main, action packed story! As the book unfolded, I kept picturing The Gamesters of Triskelion, from 1st gen Star Trek, betting all their quatloos on the next bout... Only, this game is deadly, because, these two players were betting on innocent people lives...
The narrator Scott Aiello bugged me a bit, but I really can't say what it was, nothing concrete, other than maybe his choice of character voice accents... hummm.
  If you want some high flying Space Opera, get the audio book, and let the games begin!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Eric Langill
  • 2019-04-24

Exhilarating!

For a debut novel, Brian deftly builds a rich and diverse world far removed and yet all too familiar to our own. He has meticulously crafted every stitch of his future from the links in an ammo belt to the ingredients in some murky concoction as well as tell the tale of richly developed characters that are as full of heart, courage, and self sacrifice as others are full of unconscionable malevolence. All the while the timeless game between good and evil wages around them through machinations visible and invisible. I want MORE!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Geoff
  • 2019-04-24

Never a dull moment

The hits don't stop coming. This book is action packed! You never know what side has the upper hand, because the rules change on you.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful