Call to Arms by Alan Dean Foster

I really liked Relic by the same author, so I thought it was worth giving another one of his books a punt. A random stab on Amazon brings up a Call To Arms, a story (number one in a trilogy, I think) about a galactic war between two cultures.

One alliance (the Amplitur) seeks to unite every being in the universe in the undertaking of one great Purpose.

The other alliance (the Weave) would rather not.

And so, the battle rages on for centuries, with both sides recruiting civilisations, but neither side really gaining advantage. The problem is deceptively simple: each side believes heart and soul in their cause, but each side has evolved beyond the savagery, the desire for violence, the selfishness, the innate sense of superiority they need to win the war.

Then on a routine scouting mission, the Weave encounter a creature from a race who may have the destructive qualities that can turn the tide of the war.

The creature’s name is Will, a frustrated music composer from New Orleans.

This could easily have been another run-of-the-mill millennia-long war at between two galactic federations. What makes it different is perspective: it’s fascinating to see the human race through alien eyes. They know that they need humanity to win the war, but they’re wondering what effect a partnership with such a violent and self-destructive race will have on the rest of the Weave.

The story is complex, the characters – many, the action clips along, interspersed with rich, thought-provoking dialogue.

But the best thing about this book is the humorous take on humanity, from races that’ll wish they’d never met us.

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