I’ve often found that new authors (new to me anyways) have a great first book and then tend to flag in the second or third book in a series making it really hard to continue reading.  It’s a real pity as I often find myself coming to care about the characters and I really want to know what happens to them but when it stops becoming enjoyable and is simply a grind … well, lets just say that I tend to move on.  An example of this is the Silver Ships series – the characters … any realism they had in the earlier books just disappeared and their risks and challenges were too easily beaten.  As I’ve been burnt a couple of times, I was wary going into Book 2 of the Warp Marine Corps after the exceptional book 1, but, boy – am I glad I did!

Book 2 continues the story of Captain Fromm and his merry band of ne’er-do-wells, however, this time instead of focusing on a small battle in a single city our canvas is that of a whole planet – Parthenon – which is the focus of a thrust by humanities enemies.  Fromm’s previous battle was one of the few “wins” for humanity in the shadow war against the humans.  Now that things are out in the open and we learn that humanity is officially under attack by 3 different polities the importance of holding Parthenon is even greater.

Fromm has a much larger force available to him, but the focus is still on the group we met in Book 1 – Decisively Engaged – however, some new weapons are introduced and this time the enemy is not a bunch of savages, but another Starfarer nation with equivalent weaponry available.  The combat is brutal and extremely well described but perhaps even more importantly he covered the essentials in a realistic manner.  Weapons here aren’t “super weapons” – they are the gradual improvements and his explanation of why Battle Mechs aren’t in prevalent use while sad is probably very true!

In addition to the battle on the ground, there is significant starship combat here which is one thing that was sadly lacking from the first book and by the end of the book a revolution in space warfare that changes things dramatically.  However, this change while potent also heralds some new and potentially worrying future developments for the Universe at large.  Book 3 expands on this in even greater depth but I’ll get into that in a future post!

 

 

 

If you want military SciFi you need to look no further than the Warp Marines!  As you probably know by this time, this genre is one of my favorites and I’ve written quite a few posts about the books that I’ve enjoyed over the years – some of them are below:

While I’ve yet to make my top 10 list of recent Military SciFi titles, the Warp Marines are fast moving up to the top of that list & book 1 – Decisively Engaged – gets you hooked right from the beginning.  There is no slow build up like Weber prefers with his Honor Harrington series, this one gets down and dirty right from the beginning and the action only gets more frantic as time goes on.

Story in a nutshell

Warp Marines takes us to a universe not too dissimilar to our own.  First contact, however, is not something we’d want to repeat as our initial exposure to the universe at large can only be described as cataclysmic.  When one group of aliens (the “Puppies”) escaping from a battle inadvertently leads the other to Earth, the “Snakes” decide to introduce humanity to Starfarer culture by bombing them back to the stone age.  Clean bombs & not nuclear, simply mean that the targets are surrounded by a globe of force while the temperature gradually increases within that globe  – hot enough to melt steel.  Fortunately for the survivors – less than half of Earth’s remaining population – the Puppies are able to defeat the Snakes before they can complete their destruction & feeling guilty for leading these hostile aliens here, they decide to help bootstrap humanity so that they are able to survive any further incursions from the Snakes or any of the other hostile races in their galactic neighborhood.

While the remnants of humanity might be few, they are not idle or indecisive.  The new American president institutes a program to rapidly build a space-based presence to ensure that any future alien attacks are stopped and while he’s not able to build a fleet of sufficient size to fully protect and englobe the Earth, what he is able to build is a fleet with defences that are new to the galactic scene.  One that has the rest of the spiral arm start referring to humans as … Warp Demons.

Sounds pretty cool right?  Well, that’s actually just the prologue … the rest of the book contains significantly more in the way of small unit tactics and advanced weaponry and it just continues to build up in terms of tone and tempo.

Characters

All of the characters are quite well conceived and written and their motivations are really well described and delivered.  The aliens, however, are a bit cardboard and one sided.  They are basically bad and we’re good and there is no gray area in between.  The Queen of the planet our hero finds himself on is very much based on the Empress Dowager Cixi and the whole Boxer rebellion-esque story is prevalent and annoying as its not really new or unique.  In fact another military scifi book did it earlier and it was very similar.

What I liked and didn’t like

The similarity to the boxer rebellion is definitely something I didn’t like.  I would have liked some more interaction with the different groups of aliens also as only one side of a story gets tedious and monotonous.  I also would have liked more space battles and especially those with larger fleets.  However the small unit tactics and overall grit within the story itself was really well done.  You could feel the fear and pain the Marines were going through and you lived it with them.  It was really well done!