Friday, June 23, 2017

James Review -- Virtues of War: Ghosts of War

This week I decided to review Virtues of War: Ghosts of War by Bennett R. Coles. 

The story begins shortly after Virtues of War ended. Lieutenant Katja Emmes has returned to Earth being put on light duty after leave to give her time to recover mentally from the effects of the battles she fought against Earth's colonies, abandoned for a century due to a disaster in the Sol system, which are now rebelling against Earth's attempts to reclaim authority over them. But the nightmares and other issues stemming from this continue and she spends much of the book trying to find help other than medicines, narrowly restraining herself from attacking civilians, getting into bar brawls, and nearly killing other Terran officers.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane and Sublieutenant Jack Mallory are both assigned to the Neil Armstrong, a research ship working on further development of the Dark Bomb, an extremely powerful weapon created in the field from a concept developed by Mallory. But they find themselves facing a captain more interested in his ship winning civilian science awards than weapon development, and a head scientist who blames any failings in her projects on members of her staff seemingly at random.

And Kete Obadele, agent of Centuria, the most advanced of Earth's old colonies and leader of the forces fighting against Earth, is working to pave the way for a direct assault on humanity's homeworld by establishing secret jump gates in space and on the planet's surface. But Obadele's wife and children were killed during a raid on Centuria in an orbital bombardment called in by Katja Emmes and the possibility of taking vengeance is never far from his mind.

When the attack comes, Kane and Mallory will face it in the stars while Emmes and Obadele face off on Earth as the war reaches humanity's birthplace...

I give this book 6 out of 10. First I find it fairly boring. The first eighty to ninety percent of the book have no action scenes beyond flashbacks and bar brawls, and I find the one battle we do get less interesting than the combat scenes in the first book in addition to be shorter. Second, most of the major characters I don't really care about at all and those few I did have any feelings for I usually spent significant portions of the book hoping they would be killed. 

In particular, Katja Emmes goes from a character I don't care about but tolerate to one I hate during this book. Third, I'm honestly not sure how the author wants the reader to feel about the factions involved. If he wants readers hoping Earth will lose despite most of the major characters being loyal to Earth he is doing a great job. On the other hand, if he wants readers to root for Earth to win I think he is doing a horrible job because I don't see much indicating that the Terran Union (AKA the Sol system) winning the war would lead to anything particularly good happening or that the colonies winning would lead to anything very bad happening and plenty of indications that the opposite is true. Still I think the trilogy might turn out well if the final book is better then this one and spends less time on politics inside the military.

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