11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2009
I hadn't really read any of Larry Bond's other works since his collaboration with Tom Clancy ("Red Storm Rising") but I was aware that many reviewers compared him to Clancy in the sense that he was good at creating plausible world conflict scenarios interweaving it with enough background to make for an interesting story. I also knew that he was good at writing about tactics and war strategy given that he helped develop two strategy games which are fairly well reputed (Harpoon and the World in Conflict serieses). So when I read that he was starting a new series of a potential war against China, I was intrigued.
China is fast becoming the popular enemy du jour in many books and novels about future conflicts replacing the once ubiquitous Russians. In this novel (the first of four books in the series), world climate changes have affected the environments around the world leading to food shortages in countries like China and a re-focus on farming around the world (farms are popping up in people's backyards in New England). The book starts off rather quickly with China's secret invasion of Vietnam; the purpose being to make it appear that Vietnam attacked it's neighbor therefore justifying China's retaliation and helping keep allied nations (like the United States) out of the conflict. The action then rolls on from there at a pretty rapid clip.
Since this is the first of four books there was a lot of time spent in focusing on the Chinese (particularly a commando group that spearheaded the initial invasion) and their hunt for a US scientist who has witnessed (and videotaped) proof that China was the true first aggressor. A good deal of time is spent in developing this story and the story of the scientist's flight while providing some of the background to the political machinations taking place behind the scenes. One thing I will say is that unlike Clancy's more recent books, Bond doesn't focus too heavily on the political discussions (or at least not in this book) but does try to show some of how and why decisions are made by our government.
In contrast to his work with Clancy, "Red Dragon Rising" looks to focus a bit more on the action rather than the political intrigue which is a good and bad thing. I think it's good because when the focus is on the action it moves by with a quick pace and by the time I got to the later parts of the book (the last 150 pages or so) it went by much faster than the preceding 100+ pages. The bad thing about the lack of political intrigue is that when the scenes involving the government do show up (at least in this first book) it seems almost like a small aside meant to show the reader that all of this isn't escaping notice of the government. I'm thinking that since US forces aren't really shown until the later stages of this book it's likely that that's also the reason behind why the governmental portions and development of those story lines has been allowed to run a little short.
I would imagine that with four books to fill, Bond and Jim DeFilace will expand upon a lot of the story and provide as much action as they did in this first book. One of the things I liked about "Red Storm Rising" the first time I read it was that it had a healthy balance and managed to keep things moving but also provided enough detail that you had a good sense of what was going on. My only fear is that in looking to fill four books, that action might become a little drawn out and only serve to slow things down. I certainly hope not as the first book leaves interested readers waiting for more.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2010
Like most reviewers, I have been a Larry Bond fan for a long time having first read "Cauldron", "Red Phoenix", etc. I have read most of the books he has collaborated or co-written with Jim DeFelice. Having said that I found "Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War" to be the type of action-techno-thriller that I have come to enjoy.
If you are turned off by the reference to "action-techno-thriller" that I used to describe this book, do not be. While there are references to technology in this book, it is not over the top and most of the equipment that is used and described appears to be everyday hardware. The story here is about the people, the emotions, the motivations, the questioning nature of human beings, and the brutality that evident in many parts of the world.
I am not going to go into detail on the story as many reviewers have done that already, what I wanted to mention is that I enjoyed this book immensely. **Spoiler ALERT** It kept me glued to the story, and I found myself secretly rooting for Jing Yo, not to capture or kill Josh MacArthur, but to see the futility of the orders from Colonel Sun. There were areas in the book that I felt could and should have more multi-dimensional. Captain Lai Wi finds two soldiers attempting to use a satellite phone, confiscates the phone and begins to walk out of the jungle. I would have liked to read from his perspective the attack that ultimately took his life.... The book left me wanting more - which I am sure, will be in the next installment (yes, in my opinion there will be another installment). The other thing I thought would have been a more fitting ending to this particular story is to end the book similar to how it started with a narration to Markus... Wrapping up the chronicle with a closing narration to Markus would have left me wanting more from the story but create a stronger foundation for a sequel.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good storytelling and characters that appear to come to life.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The first thing I thought when I ordered the book was that it would be similar to the famous Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" which I still believe is one of the best military fiction books written in the last 30 years. In this book, Larry Bond and Jim Defelice take on the idea that the ecological situation (global warming) leads to China in a desperate situation with the need to expand its borders or die due to emerging farming problems and other problems. As the Chinese army begins to move towards war with Vietnam a few Americans are dragged along for the ride. I didn't dislike the book, but I thought the book took way too long to really get started and I never cared much for the Americans caught in the middle between China and Vietnam and just didn't get into the dialogue or the whole plot.
Again, it's not a bad read, but it's not what I hoped it would be. Apparently, this book is just one of a trilogy(?) and hopefully the action picks up in the next books in the series. It's worth reading, but I can only give it 3 of stars.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I've always been a fan of Larry Bond and have found his coverage of this genre (war, terrorism, military adventure) very solid. The genre is currently stuck in a bit of a rut, with many authors in the space using plots that are centered around some sort of Middle East threat. Not unlike what happened during the cold war when everyone was writing about Communism and the clash of the super powers. So when Bond stepped out and wrote a book in the genre and centered it against the threat of global warming and how that caused a military event, I was happy to see someone try something fresh.
Bond paints a picture of world where global warming has thrown economies into a tizzy. As this plays out early in the book we learn that China feels forced to launch an attack against Viet Nam to deal with shrinking food supplies, etc. I won't be a spoiler and reveal some of the details, but the rest of the the book follows a scientist caught behind enemy lines and chronicles the efforts of an American intelligence operator who risks her life to pull him out. All well and good, but I'm afraid I struggled to get through the first three quarters of the thing. The action was too slow and at times felt contrived and to be honest, the whole global warming thing felt unrealistic to me; it was a bit too far fetched. Near the end, Mr. Bond brings it home and I found myself up late one night not wanting to put it down. "A" for effort, "C" for execution.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2010
Larry Bond has done some good work (e.g., his contribution in Red Storm Rising together with Tom Clancy) but unfortunately, this is not one of them. The story starts off well enough and incorporates many good details. But it is too contrived and requires the reader to make too many leaps of faith that ultimately, no longer makes the story believable. It may perhaps be the intent to weave the story into a series of titles that pressures the authors to write in this manner, or it may be something else. The bottom line is, it does not work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2010
I have been a fan of Larry Bond's writing since his collaboration with Tom Clancy in Red Storm Rising and his debut novel Red Phoenix. I enjoyed his books immensely up until Day of Wrath, where he really started to focus on the micro level of war. In Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War, Bond returns to form in a book that starts out slowly, but quickly picks up the pace.
Geopolitically, the story may take a bit of a suspension of belief (a key part of the plot is climate change affecting China and Vietnam), depending on where you stand on the issue. However the storytelling here is solid, with the characters fleshed out quite well. The battle scenes shine, and this has always been Bond's strength in his writing. The book deals with a Chinese invasion of Vietnam, the first step of the Chinese Premier's plan for China's domination of Asia and beyond. This is the first book in a series, and the action will certainly shift to other theatres of operation.
All in all, if you enjoy Bond's writing, or the techno-thriller genre in general, you will likely enjoy this book. It is nice to see a direction away from the constant counter-terrorism scenarios that have been prevalent in the genre the last decade, and a shift back to a more classic "force on force" type scenario.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2010
I have been a Larry Bond fan from his first writing. I found this book to be so unlike his other works - boring, weak plot and just plain painful reading. Couldn't even finish the book it was so bad. Makes me think Mr. Bond had a minor role, if any, in writing this novel. Save your time and money for something better.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2009
The impact of climate change on Asian mammals serves as the backdrop for an investigation by a UN team of international scientists sent to Vietnam. When China invades Vietnam and kills all the scientists save one, the book's protagonist Josh MacArthur, escapes and we follow his adventures through the Vietnamese countryside until he is safely exfiltrated by Mara Duncan; a CIA agent orignally sent under the guise of a journalist to find a Belgian national (who is really an undercover agent killed during the initial phase of the invasion) and a team of SEALS.
Their adversary is a Chinese Lieutenant Jing Yo, who is a combination of both a regimented command system and an individual with initiative in the context of both the Chinese and American militaries. A formidable character, he never loses sight of the objective of finding and capturing Josh MacArthur.
An additional subplot involves war-gaming (Red Dragon) being played out by Major Zeus Murphy and a cohort of officers. During the exercise, his analysis leads to his eventually being sent to Vietnam to assist the Vietnamese in halting the invasion. While his advice is accepted, the Vietnamese military still view the US military with disdain.
The book is overlong, and in places tedious reading. Weaponry types are a particular peeve, as they were in Tom Clancy's books. A highway map of Vietnam would have been helpful to follow the dialogue. I have read Bond before and expect better of him.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Don't get worried, Larry Bond is still cranking out the war thrillers, but this one is not the grand sweep of a worldwide battlefield that his previous books have featured. Instead, we focus in on four people swept up in the beginnings of World War III. Those four people are a climate scientist studying in northern Vietnam who happens to have video that proves that China is instigating World War III in his cell phone, a female CIA agent who is trying to rescue him, a military wargamer (and former special forces) who is helping map out America's strategy to combat China's aggression and a Chinese lieutenant in an elite commando squad who is trying to catch the climatologist.
I'll admit, it starts out slow but it builds and is a rollicking adventure by the end. This is the first of a four part series and I see it as the prologue to a much more sweeping war series that is sure to come. The stage is set for a worldwide war for food, water and other resources in a world beset by one environmental catastrophe after another. The weakest part of the book in my opinion is the lightning-fast climate changes that cause all of the troubles in the first place. In my mind, it would have been better to have terrorists choke off the oil supplies and cause a different kind of crisis but...
Still, it's a good start. The momentum built throughout the book and I look forward to more from this series.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2012
Interesting read. A little dull to start but gathered speed as I read on. It did leave me wanting to read number 2 in the series.