The Rebel of Rhada - Robert Cham Gilman, Alfred Coppel I'm going to put my review of all four books in this one, which is technically the third in the series but it's the first one I read.

These books are not particularly well written nor particularly innovative nor are the characters particularly memorable but they occupy a nostalgic place in my heart because I found them enormously entertaining at the time (I was around 12-13 when I first checked out The Rebel of Rhada from the library). In Rebel, we're introduced to the Second Galactic Empire, recently welded together from the barbarous wreckage of the First. The Second Empire is a far cry from the First, which enjoyed a very advanced technology. The Second Empire's culture is obviously based on the Middle Ages: A church of holy Navigators controls all space travel; worlds are ruled by feudal dynasts; and there's even a race of "Jews," despised aliens subject to prejudice and worse from humans.

Starkhan takes place a few centuries later when the Navigators have lost most of their power and the Second Empire is finally reattaining the First's level of technology and culture. Warlock and Navigator are prequels to Rebel and trace the rise of the first emperor of the Second Empire. The prequels were never quite as fun to read because I only discovered their existence in college and the "innocent charm" had palled.

I'd classify them as "airplane reading": Harmless, mindless entertainment to while away a couple of hours.