Another new author and this one seems to be very good. I’ve got to look at some more of his books because I like what I’m reading in this one. This is a series with their being four books so far. I can’t tell if that’s the end at four, but I’m going to read them all. They are very, very good military science fiction.
Staff Sergeant Van Horn is, of course, our main character. Unlike your usual beefy, tough as nails Space Marine, SSG Van Horn is a recovering combat veteran. He’s just been released from the hospital after undergoing about a year’s worth of surgeries and physical therapy. SSG Van Horn was a survivor of planet Luyten C and a very deadly encounter with the Orrkasi. The Orrkasi, a.k.a., Orcs, are a deadly alien species that humanity had recently encountered in the far reaches of space. The Orrkasi are highly intelligent and very advanced, but they are like very large animals in appearance and action. They don’t talk to humans and humanity hasn’t been able to figure out how they communicate or if they even want to. They appear to just want to fight every time they are encountered.
Unfortunately, SSG Van Horn, a Terrestrial Advance Combat (TAC) grunt did encounter the Orcs on Luyten C and he barely survived. While he can’t actually remember much of the battle that got him injured, he knows that he lost a lot of friends and was very worried about his future. While his injuries were extensive, the military of the future doesn’t just throw out their walking wounded. No, SSG Van Horn (Van, for short) can stand on his own and walk almost as well as he used to, but he’s got a lot of scar tissue and several joints have been replaced so it’s no where near what he used to be. He’s even lost one eye, but he can still function, but not as a primary TAC. He’s been worried about his follow-on assignment. While he doesn’t see himself going into direct combat, he believes he can operate in a support role very well.
Released from the hospital, he’s assigned to the S. F. Rihla, an exploratory vessel. He was assigned to TAC Team 13 which meant a non-combat team stationed aboard the ship. After getting to the ship, he finds he’s been placed in charge of the armory which suits him just fine. He now feels that he has some purpose in life and can at least support the combat-ready TAC teams that might need to go into battle.
Still, the current mission of the S.F. Rihla is to explore a new planetary system, first making sure it’s not controlled by the Orcs and second to see if it has any planet fit for human occupation. It should be a fairly short trip other than the month it will take to get there and back to the Solar System, plus the three months or so surveying the new system, but that’s OK with Van. He needs this time to get back into his new situation with his body. Although released from hospital, he’s certainly not pain free. While he has a prescription for some strong pain meds, he’s refused to take them so far.
Aboard the starship, things finally set into a routine. He’s had a little problem with one of the macho TAC team members, but that is only because the kid is young and unexperienced. Van doesn’t need this kind of problem, but it gets resolved pretty quickly, except a whole bunch of other problems comes up when the ship is attacked just as they begin orbiting Leonis B. That attack changes everything for SSG Van Horn. If he though he had things calmed down from his previous assignment, he was badly mistaken. He was soon going to find himself on a strange planet with only a bare chance of existing. And the Orcs were there waiting for him!
I find the writing very good in telling what’s going on in this very wounded warrior. I like that the military he’s part of doesn’t just push him aside, but assigns him to a shipboard duty that he is very capable of handling. Then, when things start going badly, we get very vivid descriptions of the actions taking place. I didn’t get confused as to what was happening in any of the engagements. I like that SSG Van Horn also tries to explain to those around him why he has to do some of the things he does. The book also explores what is good and bad leadership in very difficult situations.
This story isn’t over in just this first book. As I mentioned, there are at least three more books in this series available on Amazon. I’ve already got the second book, “Infiltrators”. I’ve also already got books three and four. Lots of reading to do!