In this book, John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce - and aliens willing to fight for them are common. The universe, it turns out, is a hostile place. So, we fight. Far from Earth, the war has gone on for decades - brutal, bloody, unyielding. Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force, and everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join up. The CDF doesn't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth, never to return. You'll serve two years in combat. And if you survive, you'll be given a homestead of your own, on one of our hard-won planets. John Perry is taking that deal. He thinks he knows what to expect. But the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder that he can imagine - and what he will become is far stranger.