The Last Colony marks the return of John Perry from Old Man’s War, once again making him the central character. Having married Jane and adopted Zoe since the events of the last book, the family lives a peaceful farmstead life. Until the Colonial Defense Force makes them a new offer, filled with honeyed words and half-truths. Whereas the first book was about regular soldiers and the second followed special forces, this third installment focuses on civilians. Being the last book in the original trilogy for this series, The Last Colony has its ups and downs.
On the positive side, Scalzi once again shows people in different lifestyles and new situations. Once again, he demonstrates that he knows how to write more than one type of scenario. We see that while humans are not necessarily the good guys, humanity is much more fractured than most of the alien species. There is merit to what the mad scientist in the previous novel said about the CDF’s corruption. Overall, The Last Colony is a fitting end to the trilogy and a good story. Not quite a great story, but a good one.
The negatives of this book, and the trilogy as a whole, are what keep The Last Colony from being good rather than great. One key issue is the lack of descriptions. There are a fair number of aliens in this series and none of them get described in detail. Some just have a name put to them and that is it. The mental images readers can paint of these aliens is very, very limited. Tying into that, the world building is very light. The limited information is justified as the characters not knowing a lot in the grand scheme of things, but most other series find a way to fit more world building in.
On the whole, the Old Man’s War trilogy is one of the better space sci-fi series out there. Particularly the first book, which had a lot of unique concepts that were well executed. But the magic in that first book just lost momentum as the series went on. This last original installment, particularly, has some holes in it that the fourth book fixes later. And from there the quality of the series continues to dip further. Reading Zoe’s Tale after this book helps but after that, it is safe to stop with this series.