I received an advance review copy of "Scout's Duty" last week, and would have gotten to it earlier except reasons.
Let's get the stars out of the way: 5 out of 5. The book isn't published yet, so I don't have the link to buy it, but as soon as it gets out there, I'll include the link.
David Rice is a Scout, First Class. He's many other things as well, but being a Scout goes to the core, and has an impact on the kind of friend and the kind of husband he is. When he was a little boy, and later on an older boy, he loved listening to the stories of an old, retired Scout who lived across the street from him, so every thing he does is a culmination of a lifetime dedicated to the concept of duty.
In this book, David starts off at what most would consider the top of the heap. He's married to the beautiful Princess who is destined to rule her kingdom, and there is really only one other superpower on the planet. So, David could be content either to rest on his laurels, or set about a conquering the Tartegians and then ruling the entire planet. To his credit, neither course of action seem to appeal to him.
The outside world intrudes, through the wormhole in a crippled ship, David, being a Scout, goes to rescue them. And we get to meet the really, honest, no-kidding nasty bad guys, because that's no ordinary ship: it's PIRATES!!!
For a Juvenile/YA book to be good, in the Heinlein tradition, certain things HAVE to happen. The hero can't just stand off and give orders. He has to give the bad guys a fair fight. And, he has to win, in the end. And THIS is a good Juvenile! There's not a thing in here that would make me uncomfortable if I was reading it to my 10 year old, Kenneth. The pirates have tortured and tormented a young boy to make him into a cruel cyborg; David kills the cyborg, but not without a pang, as he considers that the boy was a victim, too. He refuses to lie to the bevy of gorgeous babes, scantily clad slaves forced to be entertainment for the captain: nope, he gives them shirts, and promises to do his best by them.
Okay, let's sum up: this is the best of the trilogy, in my opinion. It's clearly an excellent juvenile. It's also well written enough that I enjoyed reading it as well, and I am NOT a type who reads at the level of see Spot run! While you would benefit from reading the other two books (Scout's Oath and Scout's Honor), you don't have to read them first to enjoy this book. Give it some good cover art, and I'd be happy to see this in every school library in America.