I will say this up front, I am offered books to read and review about every 2-3 months (from big publishers like Random House). Sometimes I take up the offer, sometimes I don’t. If it is a digital file, I won’t. I did recently accept one from another blogger and I’m still working my way through that file, but I have a difficult time focusing on a document on my computer when the world wide web is just a click away. That being said, my love of military sci fi impelled me to ask for a pdf of his new book, Terms of Enlistment, from The Munchkin Wrangler. And I read through the book in less than 24 hours.
Now, some who know of my great love of the military and science fiction would say I am biased towards military sci fi. They would be correct. But I am not blinded by the label. I told Marko Kloos, aka the Munchkin Wrangler, that I am fond of writers like Michael Z Williamson, Tom Kratman, John Ringo, who have all served. If it’s not up to par, I won’t be kind so maybe he should decline my request of a review copy. Come to find out, he served in Deutches Heer, as a Fernspäher.
So on to the review.
It was short. Shorter than I expected, but long enough to hit the high points! The book is basically 3 sections: before military service/Basic, the first branch service, and then the second branch service. He sets up his little world nicely and I can imagine Earth as he has described. Detroit is well on its way to being like what he sets up as the second AO of the book. It is a common theme amongst sci fi books to have overcrowding, despair, a great wish to leave the devastated planet. He touches on these but not in a heavy-handed, overly deep and descriptive way. You can imagine for yourself how our world arrives to the point where his book starts. If you are libertarian, you can very, very easily imagine it.
His characters are developed enough that you have sympathy for them. I like that. I don’t want a one dimensional main character, but I also don’t want one dimensional periphery folks either. He could have added more interaction at Basic training, he could have written a few more scenes of comraderie building at the first unit. With the epic battle in Detroit, I think the losses would have been felt more, felt harder by the reader if there was a good foundation built up of the love, brotherhood, history between squad mates. That being said, they were all introduced enough to understand who was who and I’m glad. I hate books that have so many people and names thrown in there that you can’t quite catch who is doing what and how they relate to the main characters.
The main part I like is that this book moved along, the action was good, believable, understandable, and I didn’t get bogged down in very slow sections that made me want to quit reading. That was the most important part. I wanted to keep reading, find out what happened next. I have started many books that just don’t ever capture me. Sometimes I slog through because I made a commitment to read and review the book so I do my duty in hopes that it picks up. A couple of times, I actually just couldn’t finish and set the book aside. This one, I did not want to stop reading but it was getting past 11pm (WAY past my bedtime) and I was about the midway point, so I forced myself to remember what page it was and close the file down. The next morning, I was excited to open the file and read on in the book. That right there makes it pretty damn stellar.
So here’s the thing, I’m going to blockquote a section of the book below, but I’m also going to end this post with it. I want you to know that I enjoyed the book so greatly that a free review copy sent via the internet, which cost a few seconds at each end to attach, address, and then download onto my computer compelled me to donate some money for the book. Which I have never, ever done. If I get a free copy, YAY ME!! But Marko is selling these, he’s trying to make a buck, and so I sent him a few to cover what I thought the value of the book was to me. If you’re interested in a copy, you can buy on Amazon, but you can also get an alternative format from him directly. Without further ado, but with great encouragement to you all to buy the book, here’s a short excerpt:
The sound of a rifle shot rolls across the street, a deep boom that sounds nothing like the hoarse cough of our flechette rifles. Over by the gate, where Second Squad has taken up position, one of the TA soldiers falls. We all take cover once more.
“Sniper,” one of the guys from Second Squad calls out. “Shop window at the end of the street.”
A new tactical symbol appears on my TacLink screen. In my field of vision, I can see the red diamond shape projected onto the location of the enemy sniper, even though there’s a solid wall between us. The enemy rifle booms again, and the bullet punches a hole into the wall of the guard house, where a Second Squad trooper has taken cover.
“That’s a hell of a caliber,” Priest observes. Next to him, Hansen readies her grenade launcher, and I decide to follow suit. I open the breech of the grenade launcher, take a grenade out of my harness, and stuff it into the launcher tube.
We both step away from the wall to give our launcher muzzles some clearance, and then line up the launcher sights with the red diamond marker showing the enemy sniper’s location.
“Fire in the hole!” Hansen shouts, and we both pull our triggers.
The recoil from the launcher is brisk, and I have to take a quick step back to keep my balance. The report from the launcher is muffled, like hitting a pillow with a wooden bat. Our grenades arc over the wall and toward the sniper’s position.
Hansen’s grenade hits first. It kicks up dust and debris as the HE warhead of the grenade goes off. Then my grenade follows, landing just inside the broken shop window.
The explosion from my grenade is only very slightly less noisy than the detonation of the flashbang earlier. The entire front of the store erupts into the street, and a moment later, the front of the building collapses with a roar.
There’s a moment of shocked silence, and then a few of the Second Squad troopers whoop in triumph. Next to me, Stratton laughs.
“That’s one way to do it, I suppose. Sniper down.”
“You’re supposed to save those thermobaric grenades for special occasions,” Baker says to me over the team channel. “Those are expensive.”
“Save ’em for what? I’m a few weeks out of Basic,” I reply. “Snipers shooting at me is a pretty special occasion right now.”
It’s only when my whole squad erupts into laughter that I realize I toggled my response into the squad channel.
(Cross-posted at my personal blog)