Entries in military (9)


The Light Brigade

This novel is far darker and more brutal than I usually read, but I always make a grimdark exception for Hurley because her books are always so amazing. And like with The Stars Are Legion, this one also ends on a hopeful note that made the viscera-soaked journey worth it.

This is the brutal, hard-hitting, anti-fascist, capitalism-eviscerating, hopeful time-travelling military SF this timeline needs. Inspired by Starship Troopers (film version), the book follows military grunt Dietz through basic training and the long, impossible journey through war.

In this bleak future, soldiers are busted down into particles of light and beamed off to war. But it does not always go right. Some soldiers come back with their body parts in the wrong place. Dietz keeps coming back to the wrong time with the wrong memories.

She has to struggle through memories and events that don't make sense, trying to keep a tenuous grip on sanity while navigating the dictator corporation she belongs to. This is an excellent sci-fi thriller/mystery mash up with some time travel for fun and I'm probably going to have to read it again just to keep everything straight.

If you're already a Hurley fan, this won't disappoint. If you haven't read any of her books yet, this is a fine place to start.


Raven Stratagem

This is the second book in what I believe is a trilogy (or maybe series) and it was definitely much better than the first.

In this book Jedao/Cheris have taken over a swarm (like a regiment) under the pretext that only they can stop the Hafn invaders behind the invasion of the fortress in the first book. No one really trusts them, though the swarm's general and all her people don't have much of a choice.

And that's about as much as I can say without utterly spoiling the book. The characterization is better in this one, and the whole ploy by Jedao/Cheris is fantastic. While I was pretty sure of what was actually going on, the author did a fantastic job of making me doubt myself.

There are a lot of great themes going on in here too, about free will and redemption and what it means to be human. I enjoyed this book quite a bit. So if you got through the first book and are unsure about this one, I definitely think it's worth a try.


Ninefox Gambit

This book has some really outstanding world-building, but the first half of the book was just so confusing. And none of the characters really grabbed me until toward the end. To be honest, if the second book in this series wasn't on the current Hugo ballot, I probably would have stopped reading.

The book had an ending interesting enough to have me looking forward to the next book. And now that the world-building isn't as confusing, I hope it will be easier to get through.

I'm not even sure if I can adequately describe the plot without giving things away... But basically, the main character, Cheris, is a soldier and brilliant mathematician who has run afoul of her government. Her punishment is an impossible assault on an impenetrable fortress, with the ghost of their government's best-ever general, Jedao, lodged in her mind.

Cheris never really knows who to trust, especially not Jedao who is an infamous traitor. Even with the book over, I have no idea whose intentions to trust and whether Cheris and Jedao will end up doing the right thing in the next book.

This book is worth a try, at least, but if you're finding the world-building to be a slog AND you don't like the characters, you probably won't miss out if you set the book aside.


Siege Line

This is the third and final book in Cole's re-awakening trilogy (which starts with Gemini Cell) about undead soldier Jim Schweitzer. The whole trilogy is about the rise of magic in the world and how it's being militarized. It's a prequel trilogy to Shadow Ops, which examines the full militarization of magic.

I like the book and the characters, though I didn't really connect with anyone in this book like I have in others. This book focuses less on family, the way the others have, and more on what it means to be human and to be truly alive. The entire trilogy can be read as an allegory for coping with PTSD.

In this book, Jim brings the fight to Canada, in a tiny village in the Northwest Territories. The Dene sheriff there, Wilma Mankiller, is a bonafide badass and I definitely loved her character the most. I really wish she'd gotten more "screen time" in this book. I can't say how well Cole did in representing this particular indigenous culture, but I liked the story and the setting and the new characters that came with it.

There's an excellent twist in learning who the Gemini Cell's mysterious Director really is, this very same man (and organization) responsible not only for Jim's death but his resurrection.

I've got to say the end bothered me a lot and I think it's the story's biggest weak point. A lot of the action took place off screen. Jim didn't have enough of an active hand in any of it. I didn't think it wrapped up enough of the subplots (though reading the rest of the Shadow Ops books might answer some of those questions). And now I'm going to talk about spoilers.

Part of the end (or near-end) involved a specific kind of sorcerer (and the McGuffin for this whole book) putting Jim's soul in a living body. Okay, fine. But the Dene sorcerer (who happens to be Wilma's grandfather) puts the soul of a white man into the body of a braindead indigenous man.

I'm not expert on appropriation, but that's a move that makes me uncomfortable. Given the amount of respect (and research) the author gave to Dene culture, I don't believe he meant harm with it. I don't know if the way it's handled is problematic or not, as I'm neither Dene nor indigenous, but it definitely gave me a WTF moment.

Overall, I liked the book, I loved Wilma, and I liked the ending Jim got, even if it has some problems. It's still a hopeful ending. I look forward to getting back to the Shadow Ops trilogy.


Monstrous Regiment

Another excellent Discworld novel that had me snickering constantly but also hit me right in the feels. And a shout out to an old white dude doing a passable job of writing about sexism. When I started listening to this audiobook and realized what it was going to be about, I had concerns. Reading this while the MeToo movement still hasn't hit bottom yet, yeah, plenty to be concerned about.

But Pratchett pulled it off and managed to leave me feeling hopeful.

So this is a book about war and about women pretending to be men in order to save/find men important to them or escape bad situations. It's about women disguised as men so they can do the right thing. It's an ugly war that's got Ankh-Morpork involved now (hence Vimes's spot-on cameo) and it's a desperate situation for the country Borogravia.

Main character Polly is just looking for her brother. All of the girls she meets along the way are looking for something in a country that seems to view their very existence as an Abomination Unto Nuggan (their utterly demented god). All of them pretending to be something they're not, with a pair of socks stuffed down their trousers to help with their disguises.

The socks jokes alone are worth the price of admission. "Thinking with his socks again." Heh.

To say more would reveal huge spoilers, but I thought the ending had a hopeful tone with a message that absolutely applies to some of the liberation women are seeing in the entertainment industry right now. Anyway, this is a great read and a superb addition to the Discworld series.