Tag Archives: Military strategy

Farrugia, Nathan; Interceptor (Helix III) (2016)

Helix 3 - Interceptor cover

Sievers turned his lapel out so Denton could see him reaching for a small, slender tin. He crouched and opened the tin on the floorboards, then stepped back. Inside, a large stainless steel and glass syringe. The liquid inside the syringe burned with the colors of molten lava.

“You already know what this is,” Sievers said. “And you’ll need it, if you intend to live long enough to find what you’re really looking for.”

Denton took a step toward him. “You’re using my people to get what you want.”

For the first time, Sievers smiled. White teeth flashed between his black beard. “And you are doing precisely the same.”

Colonel Wolfram Sievers and Lieutenant Denton have lived a long time. Both are willing to go to extreme lengths to achieve what they want. For Denton that seems to be world domination through Project Gate. Sievers appears to be playing another game. That game could be called chaos. Peace would probably be boring business for his superiors. Obvious suspects for such superiors might be arms manufacturers who may or may not work with biological/genetic research firms like Intero. As far as I can tell, the various countries (certainly many politicians) in the Helix world (and real) are simply pawns in the hands of these entities.

As I have said in previous reviews, one of the major appeals of Farrugia‘s stories is that they could happen. Reactions of the general populace would probably (and do) fit his description of the election of the Purity party’s leadership into Poland’s government. Fear of people with genetic mutations is increasing among the population, thereby legitimizing the Purists going after our “heroes” with the aim of targeting/turning off their mutations.

In Exile, Sophia met an operative from the Fifth Column who self-destructed when Sophia attempted to de-program her. This time around, she meets a completely different type of agent. Who or what these new operatives belong to becomes a pressing question. So does the question of DC’s loyalties. Will Jay, Nasira, Damien and Aviary be able to infiltrate Intero’s data system and what about finding Val. How is that going for Olesya and her team? And who the hell are the Benefactors?

From the various links, you would be correct in presuming I had fun with Interceptor. There is so much going on, I cannot help but dig. At the same time, I do have to stop digging and write a review. Once again, definitely recommended.


Farrugia provided me with a reviewer’s copy of Interceptor.


Interceptor is available at Amazon


My reviews of:

  1. Helix Episode I
  2. Exile (Helix II)
  3. The Chimera Vector (Sophia)
  4. Seraphim Sequence (Sophia II)
  5. Phoenix Variant (Sophia III)

Rae, Candy: Wolves and War (Planet Wolf I) (2012)

Wolves and War - Candy Rae
Cover art by Jennifer Johnson

At the outset I want to make you aware of the British English / Scottish English phrasing and spelling in Wolves and War. NOT American English!!! Because of the sometimes young phrasing, I feel Wolves and War is meant for young adults and up. While harsh at times the violence is not descriptive. There is some romance, but it is about as innocent as romance can get. What you do need to remember (sort of a warning) is that Wolves and War is about war and war is anything but nice.

On to the fun stuff.

I really enjoyed Wolves and War. At times I hurt because of the terrible changes to the lives of some of the women and children. War’s nature is gruesome. I have NEVER experienced it myself and am speaking solely as one who reads and listens and watches. What amazes me time and again is what people are willing to put up with if the alternative is death. Often I have wondered why people choose to live rather than kill themselves when their lives become so miserable. Some of the lives on the Southern Continent end up being what I would call gruesome. Yet, somehow life is chosen. Why?

Wolves and War does not answer my why. In fact, it leaves me there with my questions. Ms. Rae has done a brilliant thing in doing that because I do not really want another person to answer all my whys. I don’t even need there to be an answer to my whys.

Wolves and War is a space opera type of Science Fiction – character and world-building is more important than technology.

When the Argyll has to land on the Northern Continent the crew and settlers have to abandon ship before it sinks leaving them without most of their doodads (I know, an extremely technological term). Until war comes to the Northern Continent life is somewhat easier there than on the Southern Continent and the lack of metals is compensated by making tools with a metal-like hardwood. Necessity is the mother of invention even if that invention is a re-invention of old earth weapons. Their smith makes swords, shields, helmets, armour, crossbows and something he calls a contrap:

… was able to fire pre-loaded arrows a fair distance and thirty at a time. The arrows were loaded into a wooded frame he called a magazine that was placed on the main frame of the contraption itself. The firing mechanism was spring-loaded and the magazine was drawn back and then loosed. Distance and trajectory could be altered by the manipulation of wheels and cogs.

All of this preparation would have been impossible without the Aboriginals of the planet of wolves. The Lind are great hulking beasts about the size of a horse but with the look of a wolf about them. They are furry, snouty and have paws. Somehow both the Lind and the Larg of the Southern Continent have developed telepathic abilities along with the ability to form words. The word thing made me think that their snouts must be formed differently from a wolf’s.

What interested the Linds at first about the humans is how humans use their hands and the seeming connection some of the Lind have with some of the humans. Being able to communicate via mind and words is essential in making the humans believe that the Lind are sentient creatures.

Tara is the first human to meet a Lind. Kolyei is a Lind that feels a connection with Tara. Tara is not alone in this ability. On the Northern Continent Tara and Kolyei and Jim and Larya are the two vadeln pairs we get to know most. Tara is only 12 at the time she and Kolyei meet while Jim is in his 40’s. Their Lind bond-person is pretty well matched age wise and this is a good thing as these bonds seem to be for life and so deep that one part does not wish to live if the other party dies. A lot of animal-human bond stories seem to have this as the down-side of bonding. On the up-side is an understanding of the other race’s traits and language along with a deep sense of being loved unconditionally.

I enjoyed the way Ms. Rae tried to not sugar-coat anything for me as a reader. Granted, the fighting was not as gory as fighting really is, but it did not have to be for me to understand the costs of the war between the Southern and Northern Continents. She also did not try to hide the problems that would arise with 20,000 male prisoners escaping into an environment where females are on the run and only 300. When the leader of the prisoners is unscrupulous, well – things go as they pretty much have to go.

Being a colony vessel, the Argyll crew and passengers did not have the same dilemmas nor the same type of people to work with. Without a doubt, that is where I would have wanted to be. Both the North and the South end up with aliens and a landscape that fits with the humans landing there. Any other option would have seen the humans from the Argyll killed and possibly the Lind of the Northern Continent in pretty bad shape as well. As a reader I am glad Ms. Rae chose as she did.


Reviews:


  • File Size: 575 KB
  • Print Length: 367 pages
  • Publisher: Candy Rae; 3 edition (April 8, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006DLRBH0

Hoffman, Paul: The Beating of His Wings (The Left Hand of God III) (2014)

The Beating of His Wings
Cover art by Peter Bergting

The Left Hand of God trilogy has kept me thinking. I fell hard from book one and Hoffman has kept me going all the way through The Beating of His Wings. I have had to take a couple of days to digest the series properly. Hoffman’s essay at the end of The Beating of His Wings added to my thinking cauldron.

There is something devastating about having reality thrown in my face. What really started me thinking was Hoffman’s description of his Catholic school being less than two miles from Oxford. That got me thinking about my trip to New York ages ago. I’m the kind of person that easily gets distracted from staying on the short and narrow. My mom and I wandered off the beaten path a couple of blocks and started encountering the homeless. Just two blocks away from a regular business street people had to live on the street. That started me thinking about other cities where there are so many homeless that they are everywhere. Cities where the level of crime is so high and the police are part of the criminal world. Onward my thinking went to the discoveries made at the Dozier School for Boys or the abuse found to be rampant in Catholic schools and orphanages.

Back to The Beating of His Wings. What Mr. Hoffman does is hold up a mirror to society. Sure he wraps it in post-apocalyptic paper, but he is basically saying: see the world as it really is. I have friends who claim that my view of the world is too dark. After all, they themselves have not seen or experienced the underbelly of society. What my friends do not realize is that the underbelly of society is in fact the part of the ice-berg that is below water and that they live in the tiny part that remains above the water line. Perhaps one needs to experience the darker side of humanity in order to appreciate just how much space it takes. Or maybe we have to take a closer look at ourselves and our own potential for darkness. I have never really had need or my darker side once I was old enough that I realized it was there. Now, though! I might not have the abilities of the trio of Cale, Henry or Kleist, nor the power or influence of the Materazzi or Vipond, but the wells are there.

While reading all three books I have felt kinship with our trio struggling for survival. They are so incredibly damaged but no more damaged than a great many children of today. And why is the world like this? Well, in the world of Hoffman we see the old story of fanaticism and greed or corruption and power-hunger. On the side-lines are all of the victims of these four drugs, victims whose only concern is survival by any means. And who among us would be able to stay true to our morals and standards once our lives or the lives of our loved ones were on the line?

I sometimes wish the world was different, but perhaps it is as Idris Pukke says to Thomas Cale:

In the paradise that you’ve decided to believe in as your ultimate goal everything comes to you without much trouble and the turkeys fly around ready-roasted – but what would become of people even much less troublesome than you in such a happy place? Even the most pleasant-natured person would die of boredom or hang themselves or get into a fight and kill or be killed by someone who is even more driven to madness by the lack of struggle. Struggle has made us what we are and has suited us to the nature of things so that no other existence is possible. You might as well take a fish out of the sea and encourage it to fly.

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Reviews:

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  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (16 Jan 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0141042400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141042404

Lindskold, Jane: Through Wolf’s Eyes (The Firekeeper Saga) (2001)

Through Wolf's Eyes
Cover by Julie Bell

My daughter and I have now started on the Firekeeper Saga. We had to try a few novels I have on my shelves before she found one that sounded right to her. Through Wolf’s Eyes by Jane Lindskold caught her ear. The deed is now done and I had to begin reading Wolf’s Head, Wolf’s Heart right away.

As you probably understand, my daughter has given her wholehearted approval of the series thus far.

Rumours and stories of children raised by wolves have not been uncommon. In most of them the person found is wild and untamable. Firekeeper is certainly wild when she is discovered by Earl Norwood and his group of merry men. Not quite human, not quite wolf.

In the real world I imagine a child would not have survived living with wolves. To them we are prey and no wonder. But in Jane Lindskold’s world there are Royal Beasts. Royal Beasts are a step up from their cousins (the wolves we know). Several qualities differentiate the two. Royal Beasts are larger, more intelligent and even havea bit of magic. Nor is Firekeeper your regular human. She is able to understand the language of beasts, any beast. Her ability with human talk, however, has been lost to her – due to causes that become apparent as the series continues.

In this novel we get to see human society from the outside, Through Wolf’s Eyes. Human societies make little sense to me. There are strange rules and restrictions (written and unwritten). Sometimes it seems as if some person just said “let’s try this” one day and then that was the new tradition. To one who does not even consider herself a human, human society would seem even stranger. Yet Firekeeper slowly understands that similarities exist between her Royal Wolves and humans.

Lindskold writes pretty well. I felt at times that Through Wolf’s Eyes became a bit wordy and felt my daughter’s attention waver. Then Lindskold would get through the rough patch and off we went again. We struggled with Alistair’s recitation of monarchies – especially when it was impossible to spot a good reason for this. Although the novel is step shy of flowing it still reads well aloud.

Perhaps the reader should not be too young. The complexity of the novel is the only reason I say this. If you like political maneuvering, sub-plots and lots of threads to keep straight, this is the book for you.




Jordan, Robert and Sanderson, Brandon: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) (2013)

Cover artist Michael Whelan

Holy, freaking cow. Wow. Fabulastic.

First of all – the cover. Michael Whelan is the artist. When you go to this link you will get a look at how cover artists work and how little they actually get to work with. And still he manages to provide something that captures the dynamics of the novel.

My goodness, what an ending to a series I have loved. I do not think I was alone in worrying when Brandon had to finish the Wheel of Time series. My worries were laid to rest with his first installment: The Gathering Storm. A Memory of Light is amazing. No wonder Sanderson teaches creative writing.

What is it that makes A Memory of Light so good? As I have told you in my About page, I am terrible at analysing. Really, really bad. But there are aspects to the art of writing that I might have gotten a feel for.

A Memory of Light is tight. It’s not difficult to see that this novel must have been edited time and again to get that flowy feeling that I always go on about. There are very few mistakes and Brandon shows us that you can write a novel more than 900 pages long and still feel as though you could have read more.

The jump from character to character is flawless. Perrin‘s over-carefulness, Mat‘s playfulness, Egwene‘s “I know best” attitude and Rand’s “I must die” attitude are all incorporated into the writing without detracting from the plot.

Be prepared for fighting, lots and lots of fighting. We are, after all, at the ending of the world and the final battle. People die. People I have grown to care about. I hate that, because I really do love the quirky set of The Wheel of Time. But I see the necessity of it. I still hate it.

Once again we are exposed to friends who betray and friends who risk their lives for you. In a sense, that is what The Wheel of Time has been about for me. This group of four (five) characters from Two Rivers stays loyal to each other in spite of huge differences of opinion. Friendship, what a precious gift to bestow on each other.

I am going to say something I do not often say: Please read A Memory of Light. You’ll have to read the first 13 novels for it to make sense, but it will be worth it. That is how good I think A Memory of Light is.

Butcher, Jim: First Lord’s Fury (The Codex Alera VI) (2009)

Map by Priscilla Spencer

The last book of The Codex Alera is another brick. First Lord’s Fury is almost 700 pages long.

I think the reason I like Tavi’s character is because he is a bit crazy. Just crazy enough to see possibilities where the rest of us aren’t able to. Me, I lack that piece of genius that I sometimes meet in other people. Not often, but enough times to know how precious that ability is.

Tavi sees allies in traditional enemies, possibilities in impossibilities and hope where the rest of us give up. (Yes, I do realize he is a fictional character!) Sometimes people like this can be terribly annoying because giving up can be soooo tempting. He does annoy his friends at times. But this trait is also what has brought enemies to help and now another enemy needs to be brought into the battle against the Vord.

In Princep’s Fury Tavi discovered once and for all that the Vord were impossible to talk with/to. Their only aim in life is to convert Alera into Vord (land and creatures). However, the first Vord queen is a bit off for a Vord. She has limited the number of queens and made them sterile to boot. This gives Tavi some hope that Alera might prevail against them in the end.

Invidia Aquitaine is still fighting on the Vord queen’s side while her husband is the leader of the people left behind in Alera. The First Lord is dead and Tavi needs to hurry back to resolve the succession question at the same time as he utilizes any and all means to prevent the further spread of the Vord. But to do that he needs to take down the queen and that is quite a task. Thankfully, his old allies and family are still alive and fighting for the survival of Alera.


My reviews of books 1 (Furies of Calderoon), 2 (Academ’s Fury), 3 (Cursor’s Fury), 4 (Captain’s Fury), and 5 (Princep’s Fury)

Butcher, Jim: Princep’s Fury (The Codex Alera V) (2008)

Cover artist Steve Stone

Princep’s Fury is the fifth and penultimate book in The Codex Alera series. What can I say about this series now that it is almost over? One thing that is obvious is that Jim Butcher‘s writing is getting better and better. Hard work does pay. I’m hopeful that Jim benefits from this. As a reader, I certainly do. Having read books of all kinds for around 40 years, I have certainly learned to spot and appreciate which authors are serious about their craft.

Tavi has set off with his regiment to assist the Canim with the Vord in their homeland. With his usual tolerance of the Ocean, Tavi vomits his way quite a ways accross the Ocean. Thankfully he has good helpers who assist him whether he wants them to or not. Once they get to the land of the Canim, both Varg and Tavi discover that the situation is a bit more dire than Varg had thought and hoped.

Back in Alera the Alerans are finally realizing that the Vord are real and they are coming to get them. Unfortunately, that usually means that the Vord are about to take over your whole country and population. As we might have guessed by the previous books, the Vord Queen that started the ball rolling this time around is not quite as Vordish as she should have been. This might just be the factor that ends up being a saving factor for the Alerans, Malat and Canim.

Not all Alerans are able to help the First Lord as they are fighting for their lives to save their own people. Which is why Isana is sent north by the First Lord in an attempt to make historic peace between Alerans and Ice-men. Her work might very well be the feather that will tip the scales in the Aleran’s favor.

There is as much action in no. 5 as there has been in the previous four books. Political in-fighting is not quite as extreme as necessity  binds people together to an extent.


My reviews of books  1 (Furies of Calderoon), 2 (Academ’s Fury), 3 (Cursor’s Fury), 4 (Captain’s Fury), and 6 (First Lord’s Fury)