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“Dark World”


5 Small Stars
Dark World

Whenever I want to take a break from the very serious nature of space warfare and all that rigid military organizational stuff, I read one of these Undying Mercenaries books. They are so different from most other stories that I would have to admit that these series is one of my most favorite.

To my delight, we’re back with Centurion James McGill, Legion Varus warrior. Now that does sound impressive, especially when you realize that after all the stuff James McGill has gotten himself into and out of, he’s still an officer in the Legion. If you’ve followed this series at all, you know that McGill does what he thinks is right in situations where he has not chose but to rely on his own thinking. Most of the decisions he makes in those instances, are disastrous, for him and every one else!

This time, it’s not going to go any different. Right off the bat, McGill finds himself on the wrong side of the former Imperator Galina Turov. Having just come from a mass Legion Varus officers call, he saw Drusus, his long time friend, promoted to praetor, a rank that would take him out of direct command of the Legion, but would allow him to appoint whomever he desired to the leadership of said legion. To everyone’s surprise, he demoted Imperator Turov down to Tribune and promoted Tribune Deech up to Imperator, clearly switching their previous roles. Whatever his reasoning, it was terribly wrong. Unfortunately, our James McGill couldn’t see how wrong it was so he was one of the loudest in cheering the announcements of these changes by Drusus.

So, the first thing McGill gets to do is go see his new (old) Tribune, Galina Turov. She’s obviously not happy with the turn of events so she does what she usually does and takes it out on those around her. In a private meeting with Winslade, Evelyn Thompson, and McGill, Tribune Turov gives out her punishment by using rank awards. What she does to each is somewhat surprising, but not clearly so. Anyway, I will tell you that James McGill didn’t come out on the good end. He’ s now back to an Adjunct from his previous Centurion position. But, McGill isn’t as enamored with rank as is Tribune Turov and the rest of the brass. He always does what he wants to do even though it might be a way out of his authority. And this story doesn’t work any differently.

Legion Varus has a secret mission that only their legion is involved in or knows anything about. It’s so secret that Praetor Drusus told all the Legion Varus officers about it at the same time and also told them that if the mission details were leaked, everyone of the Legion Varus officers would be permed. For those of you who don’t remember, Earth has a “revival” machine. It’s alien tech that allows soldiers to be “re-born” or re-created out of bio-mass and recorded memory engrams. As in all these stories, Legion soldiers who get killed, no matter how gruesome, are brought back to life as long as they can be certified as dead. Of course, senior officers have the authority as to who and when a soldier gets revived and if a soldier has done something really, really bad, they don’t get revived, ever and are considered permed or permanently dead. Jame McGill was supposed to have been permed so many times I’ve lost count. That count does go up in this book!

Now, don’t get the idea that Adjunct McGill is a bad soldier, far from it. He’s the one you want in a tight situation because he’ll figure a way out. He takes very good care of his men and doesn’t have a problem terminating anyone that gets in his way (knowing that they’ll be revived somewhere else!). Yet he always finds himself getting the blame for the worst disasters that happen in the Legion. This time he’s accused of permanently wiping an entire Legion; no not Legion Varus, but Legion Iron Eagles. He’s also accused of almost destroying an entire planet, but that’s a bit of a stretch. He’s sentenced to be permed once again, but, as usual, Jame McGill has some interesting videos of his actions that just might save his butt again, or maybe not!

There is certain humor in these stories that I really like. You don’t often get to read about someone realizing that their death would be a good outcome of a battle or action. Additionally, this revival machine is an incredibly marvelous alien piece of technology. The actual process of getting revived is pretty messy, but so is actual birth. Still, I can’t say I’d be happy to the fact I had a new body and I was going to go right back into the meat-grinder that got me revived in the first place. I don’t know if these guys and gals have detailed memories of their dying because some die very horribly; like being eaten alive by bugs. So how do you mentally reconcile with that recent memory knowing they expect you to go right back into the fight you just died from? Strange world. Glad it’s only science fiction!

I truly hope there will be more books, but nine is a lot of different worlds. The author is always looking for new worlds to write about so those of you with vivid and warped imaginations need to provide some ideas. Hopefully that will lead to more books in the series and very soon.

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