Angie Kaneshiro is a Freehold-born high tech vagabond. She crews on commercial vessels trading between the various polities in Williamson’s Freehold Universe. She likes to dance, have sex and see new places. Then the Freehold War breaks out and things turn ugly fast. After barely escaping a major accident on a space habitat, she volunteers with the Freehold covert forces, acting as a guide for a group of elite special forces on covert missions.
Angie’s secret war is terrifying and gut-wrenching. She repeatedly puts her life at risk, is tortured, loses friends and has to kill innocents to protect herself and her team. As the novel progresses, it transforms from the chronicle of a fun-loving, easy going but streetwise woman to a much darker place as Angie sees her grip on sanity crumble away until there is only the mission first, and survival second. This transformation echoes the descent of the war for the Freehold from resistance to an unjustified aggressor to resorting to mass murder in order to survive.
Like The Weapon and Freehold, this book depicts the horrific effects of war on those who fight it without diminishing their heroism and bravery. The personal cost of killing innocents is very high, and in the end it all seems so wasteful.
Side note: There’s a lot of rather graphic sex in this book. In my view, it was not put there to titillate the reader, but because Williamson wanted to show that Freehold society is very matter-of-fact about such things, and more importantly because a female character can love sex without having to be a slut.
Mike Harmon and his band of Georgian (the country not the state) mountain soldiers are back. This time they are on a training mission in Southeast Asia. One thing leads to another, with the action moving from Indonesia, to Hong Kong, to Phuket and finally to Myanmar.
In this sixth book, Ringo is cooperating with Ryan Sear. While the action is pretty good, compared to the previous books, especially I-IV, it feels a bit color by numbers, a bit like a Bond movie. The sex scenes, while still explicit and edgy, seem more written for shock effect than with reference to actual S&M practices. And apart from one quite brief action scene, there is far too little doubt about the outcome. The Keldara have become supermen, and this is a bit dull.
The perhaps unfortunate thing about a novel with a large chunk set in Hong Kong is that I could pick it apart for accuracy. I understand artistic license and I understand that there will be inaccuracies but in this book it was a bit much. For example a Hong Kong scene is set in Shekou docks, but this is over the border in Mainland China. A simple check on Google Maps would have established that. It detracts from the enjoyment of the novel when the research is so sloppy.
The second sequel to The Scope of Justice finds our two snipers, Monroe and Wade, dropped into the jungles of Indonesia, where they become involved in a power struggle between diverse anti-government factions, consisting both of terrorists and Indonesian Army. In a clever twist to the story, their new commanding officer, a born and bred bureaucrat Colonel, comes with them. Our heroes are Sergeants, but they have vastly superior skills and experience. This poses many challenges as the team attempts to complete its mission in a shifting local political environment.
I was afraid that this third book would be a mere re-hash or the first two in a new locale, but Williamson has managed to make it unique. The overall structure of a covert mission remains in all three books, but the missions themselves vary widely. Williamson also captures well, especially in this last installment, the good and the bad of the military. How some personnel is helpful, how some is annoyingly by the book, how some goes above and beyond. Most military fiction does not go very deeply into these interesting subjects. Overall, a satisfying read.
In the sequel to The Scope of Justice, the two snipers Monroe and Wade, have a new mission: Take out terrorists smuggling explosives through Romania for use in Western Europe. Once in place, they find themselves doing a lot of straight spy work, typically with little or no backup. To further complicate things, they are in place clandestinely, and must also hide from Romanian authorities.
The second book in the series is an improvement over the first. The prose is less stilted and the story flows better overall. The two main action scenes are very good. Williamson describes well how it feels to be a stranger in a strange land, needing to blend in but having a hard time doing so. I found myself caring more for the protagonists as Williamson explored their motivations in more depth. The technical parts about sniping are detailed and fascinating (at least to this reader). An enjoyable read if you have some interest in the subject matter.
This rather short novel follows a US sniper and spotter team on an assassination mission in Afghanistan. It is set after the Afghan war of 2001 and the target is a terrorist leader. Needless to say, the initial attempt goes to hell in more ways than one. The two Americans then have to use their own ingenuity and local resources to both survive and to complete their mission.
This is competent but not great military fiction. A rather straightforward story, exciting but without any really unexpected wrinkles. Interesting reading if you want to learn something about modern snipers and how they operate. The dialogue is pretty awful at times though.
This is the sequel to the excellent Old Man’s War. John Perry, our hero from that book, is absent though mentioned. This novel deals with the genetically engineer supersoldiers of the Ghost Brigades, which comprise the Special Forces of the Colonial Union. Jared Dirac is created to house the recorded consciousness of Charles Boutin, a traitor to the Colonial Union. But the consciousness doesn’t take. He becomes just another Special Forces soldier, until the traitor’s memories and personality start emerging.
While a good read, this book has a problem. The macro story of political intrigue is rather dull and stretches believability. The first half, where most of the action deals with Jared’s development as a soldier and person, is excellent. Scalzi is playing to his strengths here, just as he did in Old Man’s War. There is lots of humor and focus on character. The second half is less enticing. While Jared is still an interesting character to follow, the background story is both abstract and dull. There is a great message in the plotline involving Boutin’s daughter, but it gets bogged down in Boutin’s evil genius posturing. While crazy geniuses with convoluted plans work fine in a James Bond movie, the whole thing falls a bit flat here. A decent read, but not as good as its predecessor.
This story is set about a thousand years after the events in the Posleen War series. The titular hero is a Darhel. The Darhel are known as being the puppetmasters of humanity a millennium earlier, and also for being incapable of killing. He is assigned to a Deep Reconnaissance Commando team due to his psychic ability to sense living beings. The rest of the team is made up of humans. They are sent on a scouting missions to a planet held by the “Blobs”, a mysterious enemy. While there, they find an Aldenata artifact, and the team sniper betrays the team, killing almost all of the members in a bid to secure the valuable artifact for himself. The Darhel now has to evade the sniper and eliminate him as a threat, despite his racial inability to kill.
This book is a very tight knit drama of a few individuals. The psychological aspects are very interesting, delving into motivations and character. The story itself was unfortunately somewhat weak. The first half is basically a set up for the chase in the second half. The chase, though interesting, felt a bit long-winded. If you are interested in special forces and sniper operations, it is a decent read, but despite its exposition on Darhel physiology and psychology, it does not add very much to the Legacy of the Aldenata universe.
This book is part of Ringo‘s Legacy of the Aldenata universe. Set about fifty years after the Posleen War, its main character is Cally O’Neal, daughter of Mike O’Neal. Her father believes her dead, but in fact she is an assassin and intelligence operative for a secret organization known as the Bane Sidhe. The purpose of the organization is to resist the autocratic rule of the Darhel. But that’s just the backstory. This novel deals with how Cally has to assassinate a counterintelligence officer. And how she falls in love with a rival agent. It’s complicated.
There is much to like about this book. Cally herself is deeply flawed mentally and she wears different identities like personae. She is probably over 70, but with rejuvenation the body is young, and she lives like a twenty year old. The bad part is the very long introduction. Before we get to the main action, half the book is spent on what is basically a tangent. While it neatly sets up Cally’s character and backstory, I still felt that it could have been trimmed. To add insult to injury, the conclusion feels hurried, with some characters barely getting a personality before playing important parts.
If you have read the other books in the series, you may like this one. But note that there are no Posleen to fight and it’s not really about combat.
An experiment gone wrong opens a gate to another dimension. Pretty soon more gates start to open. Mayhem ensues as evil demonspawn aliens pour through some of the gates and try to colonize by exterminating those pesky humans. Hot shot physicist, renaissance man and generally cool guy Bill Weaver teams up with some Navy Seals to figure things out and contain the threat.
As can be expected with Ringo, there’s a lot of action, all of it good and exciting. However, the books does get bogged down in the physics of it all. The writer has painted himself into a corner here. The gates and their function are pretty pivotal to the story, but the explanations required for that angle are yawn inducing, getting in the way of the action. Note that quantum physics actually interests me but that is not why I read the book. Still, if you enjoy Ringo, don’t let that stand in your way. Plenty of kick-ass action as well as a not so veiled ringing endorsement of Bush and his administration.
Book five sees the usual gang take on smugglers and terrorists trying to bring off a nerve gas attack in Florida. But there’s a twist. Events in Unto the Breach have left Mike in deep depression. As he works on that, he isn’t afraid to step on toes in order to get things done.
This one is quite a ride, and my vague familiarity of the territory (the Keys, mainland Florida and the Bahamas) made it all flow smoothly. The culture shock between “by the book” US law officialdow and “get it done” Keldara is played for lots of laughs. Reading between the lines, though, there is an astute critique of current US anti terrorism efforts and the debate surrounding them.
The fourth book of the series has Mike and the Mountain Tigers has them recovering a WMD from nearby Chechnya.
This is arguably the best in the series. It starts a bit slow, but the last 150 pages or so are one long battle with more excitement and fast moving twists than you can shake a Keldara axe at. At the end, some secrets are revealed. And Mike is broken psychologically. Very nice.
In the third book of the series, things really start to heat up. Ringo takes us on a scenic tour of the white slavery movement in Eastern Europe as a senator “hires” Mike and his Mountain Tigers retainers to find a girl caught up in prostitution and slavery. The subject matter is quite awful but such is reality.
Ringo is really hitting his stride here with great action scenes and development of the characters. This book also inserts some interesting interactions with senior officials of various states. As with the earlier books, I couldn’t put it down.
Mike from Ghost is back. While driving through Georgia (the country not the state), our hero is snowed in while in a remote mountain valley. On a whim, he buys the local caravanserai, which also comes with a large farm and most of the valley. He thus inherits the local retainers, a group known as the Keldara. These brew the best beer he has ever tasted, and (of course) turn out to be an ancient warrior tribe. He proceeds to set up a militia to combat Chechen incursions. He is also saddled with a harem of rescued former sex slaves. Storywise, this is more of a set-up book for further novels than anything else.
While Ringo could have continued to write episodic novels about covert operations ad infinitum, he wisely decided to take the character somewhere completely different, both literally and figuratively. Having established that Ghost is a filthy rich badass former SEAL who likes rough sex and killing bad guys, Ringo decided to make him every man’s wet dream.
It all beggars belief more than a little, but Ringo is unapologetic. There’s also a strong underlying message of the American Way being superior, especially compared to “ragheads from central Asia”. Ringo has written a modern equivalent of John Norman’s Gor Books. There is even a reference in the book. I enjoyed reading it and, like the first, it is a real page turner. It won’t win any literary awards, but that is hardly the objective. Ringo knows exactly which buttons to press with the average male. Sometimes it borders on the insultingly blatant, but that’s fine. This book is actually a guilty pleasure of mine, and I often re-read it when I have nothing else to read. It always entertains.
Our hero, Mike Harmon AKA “Ghost”, is an ex-SEAL trying to get by. Through somewhat random circumstances, he ends up foiling a terrorist plot to kidnap and torture American college girls. Now rich with reward money, he moves to the Keys. And ends up foiling a plot to place a nuke on American soil. After that, he ends up in Russia, where he… You get the picture. The book is episodic, with three quite distinct parts. Constant are the visceral, brutal, violent action scenes as well as the explicit and kinky sex.
I came in expecting special forces action. And yes, there is a lot of that. Quite good too. What I didn’t expect was all the erotica. Which is also good if you’re into that sort of thing.
A fun read, but not for the liberal. The hero’s views are quite, ahem, “Republican” when it comes to terrorism and how to deal with it. There is in fact, and somewhat unexpectedly, quite a bit of deep thought between the lines.