Zachary Jones has written a classic space opera, heavy on the space battle action. In the midst of a war between two human factions, the Federals and the League, a new power inserts itself into the equation by soundly trouncing both groups in multiple surprise attacks. While initially outclassed by the Ascendency forces, Mason, a young fighter pilot, must somehow survive the complete destruction of his fighter group and live to fight another day. While much about the Ascendency suggests a human origin, such as their approach to fighting space battles, there are many other things which suggest they might be something completely new. Mason is seconded to the Special Purpose Branch, a military intelligence arm of the human Federal forces. They are tasked to learn more about the Ascendency, hopefully in time for the knowledge to make a difference.
I am a fan of space operas in general, but normally gravitate to those which have a high emphasis on the overall plot rather than being mostly a series of space battles. Zachary Jones does a fine job of emphasizing the space battles, which he clearly loves, while not losing sight of the need to move the plot forward. The action was believable, in that most of the technologies involved were not radical departures from what physics could one day support. If you are the type of person who loves reading realistic accounts of massive space battles punctuated by human ingenuity under pressure, First Flight is definitely the book for you!