Recently, my wife presented me with used copies of the entire Nick Seafort Saga. I began reading this seven-volume science fiction series by David Feintuch for the second time. It has been a great joy.
I have never found a character in fiction as compelling as Nicholas Seafort, the central figure of these novels.
Beginning with the 1994 novel Midshipman's Hope, Feintuch's creation is a combination of Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game, C.S. Forrester's Horatio Hornblower, and Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Or perhaps, better put, imagine a science fiction series written by Richard Baxter, and you have the Nick Seafort Saga.
Nick Seafort begins his journey as a seventeen year-old midshipman on board an interstellar starship, making a year-long journey to a distant colony. After a series of fatal accidents, he finds himself the senior officer on board and therefore the captain. In the years that follow, he saves his ship and Earth from great calamities, often at the cost of the lives of the troubled young men who seem drawn to him.
Along the way, he maintains a very troubled relationship with the distant and harsh God that he knows. Nick's God is a reflection of his own stern father who was devoid of affection and was never pleased with Nick's performance or attitudes. Nick becomes convinced of his own damnation after breaking an oath, but maintains personal honor as the compass of all of his decision-making.
I am now reading the last novel, Children of Hope, written before Feintuch's death in 2006. Nick appears to be in his late 60s. His explosive temper has mellowed and been replaced with a gentle and forgiving manner. When a boy attempts to murder him, Nick's response is not to execute him, but to adopt him. When an old enemy appears, Nick sees an opportunity to find redemption that had been lost from him for forty years.
As I said, I know of no more compelling character in fiction than Nick Seafort. I highly recommend reading the Nick Seafort Saga.