Orphan’s Triumph by Robert Buettner

Orbit Books
ISBN 9780316001755
368 Pages
June 2009


Jason Wander has been fighting an interstellar war against the Slugs for 40 years.  In those years, he’s made friends, lost loved ones, and helped to unite humanity across the vast reaches of space.  In Orphan’s Triumph, Robert Buettner brings his story to a close.

Buettner picks up the action straight away.  Jason is not only contending with the Slugs and a way to stop them, but the various political borders between the inhabited worlds of the Human Alliance. One of Wander’s closest friends, and one might even say his sidekick throughout the entire series, may have come up with a solution to the Slug problem.  One of the moon’s surrounding a human-inhabited planet is basically kryptonite to the Slugs and Hibble plans a gambit that will launch pieces of it to the recently discovered Slug homeworld. 

Of course, this plan does not go off without a hitch and a secondary plan must be followed, and I was reminded a bit of Contact wherein a second wormhole machine appears fully created to move along the plot.  Buettner’s handling of this back up plan was logical and not something that came out of the blue.  Rather, he sets up the back-up plan early on allowing for a smooth and believable plot transition.

I was also reminded of Ender’s Game as the novel (and series) drew to conclusion.  The outcome of humanity and the Slugs was a logical build-up from what had occurred in the previous volumes and the evolution of Jason as a character.  Of course Jason is the one to visit the Slug homeworld.  Although this might be bordering on the lines of plausibility a bit, the five book series has been Jason’s all the way and for him not to be the one visiting the Slug homeworld would have been both a disappointment and an imbalance to his character, the series, and the novel as a whole.

Over the course of the series, Buettner has painted the picture of a career military man, from his earliest days to his final days here in Orphan’s Triumph. In this last volume, Jason’s retirement is an oft-brought up subject.  He’s of the age and many people feel he’s had enough of the military life – some want him out of their way others just want him to relax.  Jason; however, wants to see the Slug war to its end, he was there at the beginning when they decimated the Earth and he wants to do the same to them.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, very often, the overall quality of a series rests on the shoulders of its concluding volume.  The same can be said of Buettner’s Jason Wander saga, but with the caveat that he’d been doing pretty well since the previous volumes were balanced, entertaining and good examples of Science Fiction. The journey Jason is put on by Buettner is enjoyable, emotional and genuine.  He’s a very likeable character, and in many ways this is due to his outside the box thinking.  Part of this comes from the first person narrative technique Buettner employs through the majority of the novel. We, as the reader, are told this story directly from Jason which helps to make him a sympathetic and believable character.

It can be said that Buettner, a man who served in the military, is making a comment on the military in general.  Though the rules are in place to be followed, great things can be done if the rules are side-stepped for the greater good.

With Orphan’s Triumph, Buettner has put a fitting close to what has been a top-notch series.  Time will tell how it ranks against the predecessors in its genre subset like the aforementioned Ender books, Starship Troopers, or the connected series of novels Joe Haldeman began in Forever War.  If anything, Buettner’s story is more upbeat and positive despite the bird’s eye view of humanity possibly on the brink of extinction. 

On its own merits I would recommend this novel; as a closing novel, I don’t know that you could ask for more; and as a series, I would recommend all five of the Jason Wander novels.

Bravo Mr. Buettner!


© 2010 Rob H. Bedford

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