Trial by Fire by Charles E. Gannon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Even more so than the first novel in the series, you have to be in the right mood for it.
Unfortunately, this one made a huge departure from the first novel, where you have a square-jawed hero with a fairly strong supporting cast doing heroic things and generally keep a strong presence on the page throughout, only to be pushed pretty much to the sidelines in the second novel because the adventure novel turned into an all-out novel of WAR.
I'm deadly serious. This is a grand example of all-out war, rife with tactics AND strategy, full of space battles and ground battles, from the war's break-out to the Earth's occupation to the counter-attack to the hymnal of bloodshed, reversals, and eventual cease-fire and surprise-ending.
I can't stress it enough. This is a tight single novel encompassing an entirely epic war.
I appreciated how well it was written, how well thought-out the overall strategy, the clarity of the tactics, the heroism and the glorious deaths that so many characters had to suffer. As an example of this sub-genre, this novel managed to keep my attention better than most and I tip my hat to it.
Unfortunately for me, I've never really cared to war novels of any stripe. I've learned to enjoy strategy and tactics over the years, but it's a strain. There was still my favorite characters doing heroic things, although their parts were much reduced or sidelined to very specific categories, and that's fine because a whole damn war can't be fought by a single Caine, but unless you're a fan of military fiction, you might get either lost or simply not care about this novel.
This novel DOES follow a strong Military SF tradition and tributes the hell out of it.
It IS filled with interesting reveals and reversals for both the good and the evil peeps. There's also a more galactic importance associated with the events. It's GOOD.
It's also not for me.
I'm giving it a fairly high rating on all the things it does well, and it does practically everything well. I just wish it was a bit more like the previous novel.
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