Continuing on directly from Decision at Thunder Rift, Mercenary’s Star sees the fledgling legion struggling to find a new client. With limited funds remaining Grayson Death Carlyle has limited options available to him as his reinforced battalion of mechs and infantry is still an unknown force. While their initial battles on Trellwan which led to the formation of the legion hold promise data is still scarce on their true capabilities and skills.

Forced to accept a contract as trainers for a guerrilla army on Verthandi, the only saving grace for Carlyle is that he is once again being provided with an opportunity to battle the forces of the Draconis Combine. The Kuritans or “Dracs” were directly responsible for the destruction of Carlyle’s old command and the death of his father. This is a debt that he desperately wants to collect on, but at the same time as the commander of the Legion, he has greater responsibilities.

When Verthandi was surrendered to the Combine in 3015 it was not a happy decision for the citizens of the planet. After 10 years of failed rebellion though, the forces on planet realize they need some professionals to help them if they expect to be successful. Citizen Devic Erudin travels to the Mercenary’s Star of Galatea to look for a force to help the planet. With limited resources and a mission that looks hopeless, his options are limited also.

With the Legion looking for work and the citizens of Verthandi looking for a force to fight the Combine it looks like a match made in heaven. However not everything is as clear cut as it seems. While the Legion is contracted on the Mercenary’s Star to break through the blockade, smuggle a consignment of arms and equipment to the rebels, and provide cadre duty for at least 900 hours, it turns out that the plan is something Citizen Erudin is the architect of. Unfortunately this means that information on the waiting Combine forces is somewhat lacking. When the Legion is confronted by Combine forces on their path insystem, their dropship is shot at and crashes on Verthandi seemingly stranding the forces.

Fortunately for the Grey Death Legion forces, they make contact with rebel forces before the Combine finds the wreck. Teaming up with the rebels they are able to successfully repel the Combine forces. Carlyle comes up with an innovative solution to hide the damaged dropship and they jury-rig a propulsion system to get it to another port almost 500 km away.

Grayson takes on the task of training the rebels and while the forces show promise, he admits to himself that it will take a significant amount of time. However, the rebel leadership aims for a quick victory. Against Carlyle’s advice, their Rangers soon launch an ill-fated attack against the capital city of Regis, hoping to decapitate the occupying forces’ government. Although the Gray Death Legion was explicitly not hired to fight, Carlyle moves his ‘Mechs to Regis on a hunch and, involving his unit in the fight against orders, manages to save some of the trapped Rangers and lead them back to their secret base on Fox Island. Almost against his will, he becomes their war leader following the death of the rebel general in the attack.

While this is going on, the Draconis Combine forces are not sitting idle. Breaking a captive through deception, they discover the secret base for the rebels. They then send Combine special forces – DEST troopers – to attack the base, capturing the leadership council of the rebels and all of their equipment.

Fortunately, the bulk of the Rangers were away on a mission thus survive the attack. Under Carlyle’s skilled leadership they begin a very successful guerrilla campaign against the Kurita occupation. As they continue to forment unrest across Verthandi the Combine leadership resort to ever more vicious retaliations. Governor General Nagumo inadvertedly sparks a full rebellion by arresting and executing high-ranking government officials for supporting the rebellion, after having learned their names from a captive.

Carlyle however is not just trying to win the battle but the war itself. While he’s fighting on Verthandi, he has Renfred Tor (the Captain of the Legions Jumpship) negotiating with the Lyran Commonwealth to try and get assistance from the Lyrans. Persuading the Lyran’s that the Combines mining efforts on Verthandi imply a hidden supply of key minerals he manages to negotiate a relief force for the Legion.

However, Verthandi is under the control of Duke Hassid Ricol – the real force behind Carlyle’s issues on Trellwan. Ricol is significantly more capable than the existing leadership and the rebel forces are quickly put on their back foot. However, Ricol is unable to keep his gains, and leaves Nagumo in control. Over time, the rebellion continues to gain steam and soon the Kuritans only retain control over the capital city and startport.

Nagumo realizes the rebels are still dependant on raiding Kurita supply depots, and prepares one to be a trap. Led by Carlyle, the raiding force narrowly escapes the trap but leaves Lori Kalmar as a captive. Carlyle mounts a rescue mission but he is left to do so without the assistance of the Rangers. The Legion manages to sneak their BattleMechs and infantry onto the University perimeter through a secret tunnel and start a mass-breakout of prisoners. The entire city of Regis joins in the uprising, ejecting the Kurita troops.

Over the next days, Kurita forces from across the planet move to the starport, the only area they still hold, and a standoff ensues. Both the Lyran Commonwealth and Duke Ricol have sent relief fleets which arrive within a few days of each other, keeping each other in check. Ricol has little choice but to accept the peace agreement the ranking Draconis Combine officer had already signed.

As mentioned in previous posts, Scribd has an excellent selection of Battletech novels. However they are somewhat out of sequence as I’ve discussed earlier and this book is considered #25 in the Legends imprint.

As mentioned in previous posts, Scribd has an excellent selection of Battletech novels. However they are somewhat out of sequence as I’ve discussed earlier and this book which I think should be the first or at the least one of the earlier titles, is considered #24 in the Legends imprint.

Book #1 in their consideration is Wolves on the Border which I shall talk about in a future post. I could see why they consider this #1 as a portion of the story takes place in 3023 … this is a very small piece though. Decision at Thunder Rift however is entirely set in 3024 which I believe warrants its inclusion at an earlier stage.

This title covers the founding of the Grey Death Legion – a famous Inner Sphere Mercenary Unit – by Grayson Death Carlyle. Carlyle is nothing more than a boy when his fathers mercenary regiment is destroyed by traitors and sabotage.

Forced to surive on a world that has become hostile to offworlders and without a mech to his name, Carlyle needs to learn how to survive. When the forces that attacked his father set their sites on the local cities and towns, Carlyle comes to the determination that even without a mech he can still defend the people.

When he joins forces with local militia to attack and kill a Wasp, Carlyle is able to rally the defenders even further. Driving off another Wasp, he manages to capture a Locust and its pilot – Lori Kalmar. This victory propels Carlyle into the limelight and he is hailed a hero by all and sundry.

Forced by the situation to come up with a plan to push the raiders away, Carlyle coopts Lori and trains a ragtag team of infantry anti-mech specialists to take the battle to the raiders.

The betrayal that initially plagued Carlyle while his father was the leader continue to plague him however as his force is trapped and ambushed. Managing to turn the trap around on the bandit forces, Carlyle escapes with his fathers Shadowhawk. With his forces almost destroyed however, Carlyle has limited options available to him when Kuritan forces under the command of the Red Duke land.

The Kuritans quickly “subjugate” the bandits leaving the citizens of the planet to believe that they are the their saviours. With Carlyle captured and imprisoned, it looks like everything is lost.

Lori however believes in Carlyle and is unwilling to let him rot in jail or in the hands of Duke Rikol. Breaking him out of his cell with Locust, Carlyle manages to once again regain control of his Shadowhawk and a running battle ensues.

Carlyle eventually escapes to the Thunder Rift – a series of caverns where his force manage to hold off the attacking Kuritans. Fortunately for Carlyle he has an ace in the hole and the arrival of Steiner forces end the stalemate.

As the story progresses Grayson Death Carlyle continues to grow into and develop his own character and style. It’s a good introduction to the Battletech universe as it gives a brief overview of the current political situation and history of the Inner Sphere without getting bogged down in the details. Mechs are mentioned with descriptions so that they easy to visualize and while later books actually include brief black and white sketches of the Mechs, there is enough detail here to know what they are capable of.

The underlying plot itself is somewhat overcomplicated and convuluted in all honesty but it’s a good way to introduce some key characters that will carry forward for a few books and story arcs. Similarly the politics on Trellwan and the local lords and ladies are a bit transparent in their plots.

These small negatives aside, it was a good start. If you don’t have a Scribd membership, I highly recommend that you consider one. For a fairly nominal fee you can access new and old books and audio books.

Unlike the previous installment this story has much more action.  Aiden has assumed the identity of a Freeborn warrior, named Jorge. Freeborn warriors, unlike the genetically engineered Trueborn, are born naturally from loving parents, instead of being born from an artificial womb.

The book opens on the planet Glory with Base Commander Kael Pershaw in a discussion with his personal aide. Unaware of Aiden’s false identity, he is disgusted upon learning that he had easily defeated a Trueborn warrior in a brawl. The Commander despises the Freebirth under his command. After another fight results in the death of a Trueborn warrior, Kael Pershaw punishes Aiden by forcing him to wear the Dark Band of Shame. In spite of the punishment, Aiden’s unit are selected to carry out a rescue mission. Him and his squad deploy their battlemechs into a region known as Blood Swamp.

After locating the stranded warriors and their crashed mechs, their combined forces plan for an attack on a unit from a rival clan. The Trueborn warriors, having no experience piloting mechs through swamps, are humiliated that a Freeborn will command the operation, which ultimately ends in victory. So great was the victory, that the Trueborn warriors are entitled to compete for a Bloodname title, something only Trueborn are entitled to obtain.

Aiden, secretly a Trueborn warrior, interrupts the Bloodname ritual and reveals his true origin, demanding the right to compete. Kael Pershaw, compelled by a witness, sends the conspirators back to planet Ironhold to stand before the Grand Council where a decision will be made on the matter. Falconer Commander Ter Roshak is summoned to testify for his role in giving Aiden a false identity. Ter Roshak testifies that he was convinced that Aiden is the reincarnation of his former Commander, Ramon Mattlov.

Ter Roshak and Aiden’s defence is overruled, both men reject the decision and demand a Trial of Refusal, the right of any Jade Falcon warrior to contest a judgement by going into combat against some of the clan’s best warriors.  The votes of the trial decide the odds of  three to one against the accused. With the odds stacked against them, only cruel violent fate can reverse the decision.

Another highly recommended title, especially for fans of action driven stories. I encourage you to read it yourself and discover how the subsequent clan battles turn out.

Taking place on the planet Ironhold, this series begins with fresh recruits to the Jade Falcon military clan. The youthful hopefuls were bred through scientific methods meant to make genetically superior warriors. They’re known as Trueborn. The story follows Aidan, a Trueborn recruit and his group of trainees as they advance through the path to becoming Mechwarriors. Unfortunately for Aidan, his instructor is the demanding and cruel Falconer Joanna who takes an immediate dislike to him and takes delight in making his training as unpleasant as possible. As the trainees progress, inferior recruits are flushed out of the training program, pitting them against each other.

The Jade Phoenix clan is portrayed as being relentlessly aggressive in even the most relaxed moments. Major disagreements within the clan are settled in the ‘Circle of Equals’ where warriors would fight to decide an outcome. This book doesn’t have as much action as other Battletech titles, focusing more on clan attitudes and procedures and Aidan’s experience as he goes through clan training.

After training is complete, the remaining recruits face the six ritual combat trials. Succeeding will grant the trainees a position within the clan. During the Trial of Position, Aiden uses bold and risky tactics which almost pays off, but his battle mech is disabled at the crucial moment, ending his chance of joining the clan. He is flushed out of Mechwarrior training and begins a new career path, but it won’t be long before destiny brings him back into the cockpit of a battlemech.

Overall, I wish I started reading Battletech much sooner. I can’t recommend it enough. There is a great blend of technology, action and clan culture. The book also has some artwork tucked into the pages, a glossary of terms used and schematic drawings for each battlmech type. If you like action, science fiction, or just a great story, you can’t go wrong.

This book is a great introduction to the “Clans” but if you’re interested in reading details about the Inner Sphere or want a bit more history of the Battletech Universe as a whole you should check out Scribd. 

As mentioned in previous posts, Scribd has an excellent selection of Battletech novels. However they are somewhat out of sequence as I’ve discussed earlier and this book is considered #2 in the Legends imprint. This simply wouldn’t make any sense so I strongly urge you to read Decision at Thunder Rift by William H. Keith Jr. first.