Rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was surprised to find another book in the Phule's Company series in the bookstore, as I hadn't heard anything about it. Apparently it was published in 2006, which makes me the latecomer to the party, but I expect I didn't hear much about it because it's such a lackluster addition to the Phule series.
The novel itself follows in a similar vein to the others in the Phule's Company series, but just doesn't have the same sparkle or life to it. In all the other novels, the whole Omega company of the Space Legion (composed of misfits, in the most worthless branch of the military) has to adapt to a new assignment on a new planet, and succeeds, thanks in part to a bit of dumb luck and the willingness of their Captain (Willard Phule) to spread his inestimable wealth to give his company the best operating equipment and facilities in the new location.
This novel focuses less on the Omega Company and more on only a handful of its members. Phule has to rush offplanet in attempts to catch his butler, who has gone on vacation but didn't leave his security-code for Phule to access his financial records. A couple of his soldiers surreptitiously follow to aid Phule in his efforts, but always end up a step behind their commander, who in turn is always a step behind his butler Beeker. This departure from the typical Phule novel might not be so bad except that the execution of the subsequent events is done in such a way that the story itself is not enough to retain the reader's interest.
The hijinks on their tour to four new planets are reminiscent of an old Marx Brothers movie (but not in a good way) and leave the reader wishing Phule would just catch up to his butler and end the "suspense". The parallel plot of Phule's commanding officer, General Blitzkrieg, performing a surprise inspection while Phule is gone is almost as uninteresting, although it is tempered a bit by a little interaction with various members of the Omega Company.
As (I'm assuming) this is the final book in the Phule's Company series, this was a sad way to cap off the stories about Captain Jester and his ragtag band of misfits. I know it may not have been planned to be the last in the series, but it still felt like it was a "straight-to-video" addition to the series tacked on just to take advantage of the name and characters Asprin worked so hard to develop in the early 90's.