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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An very nice concurrent sequel to Freehold.
The second book in Mike Williamson's Freehold universe, The Weapon is less a sequel than a concurrence: the start of The Weapon is actually a good bit earlier than the start of Freehold, as it follows the career of a Freehold Military Forces soldier through some of the backstory and many of the events of Freehold. It helps to have read Freehold first, although this isn't...
Published on July 24, 2005 by Leo Champion

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Used, Abused, and Contused
Despite others' reviews, this book is not an ode to Libertarianism, Randism, Objectivism or any other "ism". The politics involved are minimally intrusive. Instead, we are reading about the classic revolt of the independent colony. Yes, imperial Earth is evil, run by a corrupt United Nations. Yes, the colony world of Freehold is good. Yes, we are presented with a conflict...
Published 10 months ago by Nicholas A. Sanders


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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An very nice concurrent sequel to Freehold., July 24, 2005
By 
Leo Champion (Boston, Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The second book in Mike Williamson's Freehold universe, The Weapon is less a sequel than a concurrence: the start of The Weapon is actually a good bit earlier than the start of Freehold, as it follows the career of a Freehold Military Forces soldier through some of the backstory and many of the events of Freehold. It helps to have read Freehold first, although this isn't essential; The Weapon is much more of a military book than Freehold, and nothing (about the society or the military) is considered to be assumed knowledge. You can read them in either order.

It'd be fair to say that Freehold is about a society; The Weapon is about a soldier. As in Freehold, Williamson spends a lot of time describing harsh and painful methods of training; unlike Freehold, this isn't such an important part of the book and there's nowhere near as much of it. The main character then goes on to Mtali, described in passing in Freehold but in far more detail (with specifics on how the troubled planet got to be that way), here. There are more training exercises and drills as the main character, Kenneth Chinran, works his way up the ranks; then the Freehold war begins, and Chinran is a black ops man on Earth. If you know the ending to Freehold, you'll already know what he does.

There's bodycount that makes John Ringo look cheap, some sex (less than the profligate girl-on-girl scenes in Freehold, thank God), and a lot less political comparison: yes, it's about a guy from the Freehold going to Earth (as opposed to Freehold, about someone from Earth going to the Freehold of Grainne), so there's a slight mirror-image thing as Chinran views Earth through Freehold-accustomed eyes - but not an in-depth one, because that's not the point of this book. If you were offended by excessive politics or sex in Freehold, you won't have a problem with The Weapon.

Probably the biggest problem Weapon has is, well, the lack of a dynamic plot or any *individual* bad guys. The only antagonists are at the national level, no individuals you can really hate. And the plot is 'course-of-events', not 'action-reaction-action'; Chinran is a soldier who goes where he's sent, and the only decisions he gets to make are at the tactical level. No real suspense in what he'll do next, especially if you've already read Freehold. It's a train ride, not a car chase.

On the other hand, it's also a very *nice* train ride; there's a different view of the Freehold, a highly amusing look at Earth (some of Williamson's description is hilarious), and the combat is great. There's enough personal stuff that you don't know *exactly* how it ends for Chinran, and I do remember wondering towards the end if he was even going to survive- there are devices you can use to allow that in a first-person novel, and the story would work either way.

You don't get military sci-fi like this every day, or (how often does David Drake publish?) many times a year. Williamson isn't Drake, but he's one of the tiny handful of authors who're in his ballpark - different, and not necessarily inferior in every aspect. An excellent work.
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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad Mike Marinates Marvelously, July 25, 2005
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Mad Mike Williamson's debut novel Freehold was fantastic, with its tale of a woman's journey from patsy to hero, from moral infant to adult citizen. The Weapon is the second novel in Williamson's series about the Freehold War.

The biggest difference between this book and Freehold is that in Freehold there are winners. In The Weapon, there are only survivors. Nobody wins.

Williamson is uncompromising in his portrayal of a ruthless patriot, capable of destroying half of Earth to preserve his planet, yet who shows that he can love and be loved. There is simply no sentimentality in this book.

Thomas Jefferson said, "The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time..." and Williamson explains in detail how that happens.

If you expect a happy ending, you will be disappointed. But if you want the real thing, this is it.

Excellent writing, excellent characterization, excellent plot and vibrant story. When Williamson really gets his career cooking, he is going to be one to watch.

Walt Boyes

The Bananaslug. at Baen's Bar
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Weapon, December 13, 2010
This review is from: The Weapon (Freehold Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Weapon, by Michael Z. Williamson

"The first time you suffocate, it's terrifying."

So begins the story of Kenneth Richard Chinran, a Black Ops soldier for The Freehold, a planet that has recently broken away from its colonial status under the UN and declared itself a free nation. Beyond that, I cannot really accurately summarize this book; it is just too long. It's just over 630 pages...it's practically 3 books in one!

If Robert Heinlein were to read this, his review would be something like "Finally, someone gets it!" If you like Robert Heinlein books (especially Starship Troopers) then you'll love this book. If you like infantry-type military stories you'll love this book (it hardly matters that it takes place 500 years in the future...there's maybe 20 pages that involve spaceships). I don't know if the author served in the military, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he had; it has a very military feel to it.

But that doesn't mean that others won't like it; it's hilarious at points. There are few outright jokes, but there are plenty of off-the-cuff remarks that you can't help but laugh at. And speaking of off-the-cuff remarks, it's hard to stop reading when the "stopping point" of blank space ends with things like "This narrative is of course, not complete, since there's far too much that you as the reader have no need to know, especially about me. I'm the man who destroyed most of Earth." How do you not keep reading after a statement like that? And on page 5 no less!! In fact, that got to be something of a problem with this book; I'd sit down to read it while waiting for the bus, and I'd end up missing the bus entirely!

It really could have been 3 books though; there are 3 stories contained within: His training and first few assignments, his first war, and the battle against Earth (which easily would be a book worth buying). The only thing that might throw some people off is that it's written kind of like a memoir; he acknowledges that this is a book/story he's telling, and it's written in first person. But if you can get past those, it's totally worth picking up!

Memorable Quote:

If it shoots at me, it's hostile. I've never believed in "friendly fire." You shoot at me, I'll kill you regardless of your uniform. ...there were support weapons in our targets that could see us from where we were, or be directed on target even if they were over the crest. It's called "indirect fire," and it's a new invention, only three thousand years old.

The idea behind this was to come in behind these units and surprise them. Forget surprise. It appears they were devious types who had access to binoculars. At every step, leadership assumed that "savage" equaled "stupid" and "incompetent." The three do not necessarily go together.

For more reviews like this, [...]
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars intriguing tale, September 4, 2005
This is set in the same world as Freehold but starts earlier and takes a very different tack on warfare. I found this take on the training of a covert ops soldier very interesting. The book is start to finish a look at the world through the eyes of a character that i was very near to writing off as a worthless, arrogant twit and putting the book down. I'm glad i didn't the book does take some wrenching twists, but it is all part of a tightly written story that is more than it first appears and not your run of the mill sciffy adventure tale. Dark, bleak even but well worth the read.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly plausible, October 31, 2005
Michael Z. Williamson's "Freehold War" universe is a well-written mirror of our own. Various real countries have placed on extrasolar planets. Realistic, well-imagined technologies make life simpler but not alien.
But, stripped of its sci-fi decor, the story asks this question-what happens when a bureaucratic juggernaut, well-blooded from ceaseless wars with weak, poor, disorganized nations, decides to attack a strong, wealthy, civilized one, however small?
In "Freehold" we get the answer-the bureaucracy gets a harsh lesson in the horrifying realities of war. And those who depend on it and support it suffer along with it.
But, these stories aren't as much about societies as they are about soldiers.
Freehold is about a soldier defending her home, about the trials and tribulations of defending one's home from a ruthless, powerful invader.
The Weapon is about a soldier bringing the war to the invader, about living in a place alien to him, about learning about it solely to destroy it, and how he suffers from the guilt of the actions he takes to defeat his enemy.
Williamson is a soldier, and proud of it. Proud of his training, proud of his fellow soldiers, proud of his county. But he also knows that war does not determine who is right, it determines who is left.
He knows that war is hell. Because he is a soldier. And above all, his books are about soldiers.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goes to the edge to support personal freedom and justice., July 16, 2006
By 
ideas equate (Atlanta, GA United States) - See all my reviews
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The story finishes by setting up another book proposition to explicate how the daughter of Captain Kenneth Chinran develops into a force of her own. If the writer takes this route, I'll be an immediate buyer.

The story builds up a detailed, richly cathartic, and barely fictional expression of how disciplined and trained members of the professional military apply courage and tactics to whump tribal theocracy. All right! Then it shifts up to the morality of confrontation with the galatic elites, the iron rule of the few over the many, based on our future Earth, where freedom and justice are mere vestiges of old ideals. It is a shocking and unsettling juxtaposition, and one that comprises the essence of the story.

The battles and terror tactics are horribly plausible, although artfully premised on one more leap into future weapons development and not on things that would represent a recipe or textbook for terroristic criminality today. In the phobic world now surrounding us, the writer shows notable personal courage to carry out his creative efforts to tell the story the way he did.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There's an awful lot of truth in this Fiction, May 18, 2009
This review is from: The Weapon (Freehold Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
Kenneth Chinran is a soldier of the future. He lives in a "free" part of the galaxy called the Freehold that is a Libertarian's wet dream: It's business's get to keep what they earn; it's workers are paid for what they are worth; all religions are tolerated, but not given any special privilege; free speech is truly that and not contingent upon upholding some politically correct code; it's well trained and professional military is in the business of keeping the Freehold free. In short individuals are considered more important than the collective. Although Chinran's story takes place in the future, it is one that could take place today. Michael Williamson writes with an insider's view of the military. His insights are harsh, but also humorous. This author understand the true function of the military, that it's function is to utterly destroy an enemy. Within this understanding lies an equal understanding that such forces should not be unleashed for anything as trivial as "Peace keeping" (an oxymoron if there ever was one). It is an awesome force that should only be used as a last resort. No punches are pulled in the descriptions of the nightmarish psychological trauma that war leaves behind within soldiers and civilians alike.

The first half of "The Weapon" is taken up with training and the harsh process that it takes to turn a young person into a disciplined killer. The second portion of the novel brings Chinran and his team of specialists to a future earth that threatens the very existence of the Freehold. The Earth is a collectivists dream and though Williamson describes it with half a laugh, all one must do is open a newspaper or turn on the news to see that Williamson is describing a world that is only one sliver away from where we are now with our politically correct speech codes and our bizarre belief that life is supposed to be "fair". We have sacrificed our liberty on the anvil of "equality".

Although Williamson's vision of our near future is a grim one, "The Weapon" is a great book for lovers of military speculative fiction I highly recommend it and am heading out today to pick up Williamson's prequel to this book: "Freehold".
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story by a guy who really seems to know what he's talking about., September 2, 2005
I was fifty pages into this book when I heard that it was meant as a sort of sequel, or at least parallel-timeline book, to another one by this author named Freehold. You wouldn't know from reading the book, outside of perhaps the depth Williamson gives his culture; as far as I'm concerned the books can be read in either order. (If Freehold is as good as The Weapon, I'm looking forwards to it.)

It's vivid. Detailed. Well-drawn story about the journey of a soldier from young recruit to veteran officer with massive violence on his conscience.

What gets to me, though- is the way Williamson draws disaster. I finished the later part of it (not really a spoiler: some disaster-level stuff) just before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and Williamson seems to have predicted brilliantly the psychic chaos that seems to erupt when people are hit by disaster; the way they can act with absolute irrationality (burning hospitals, shooting at ther own rescuers), as well as, for some people, total immorality when they get the chance. (I.e. rape, arson, massive looting.)

I don't know if Williamson has been through other disasters himself and has first-hand experience of this, but the realism was chilling. Given the impressive depth of his characterization when it comes to individuals, maybe the man just knows the world *really* well.

One hell of a book. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some have missed the point, March 15, 2010
By 
This review is from: The Weapon (Freehold Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
I think a couple reviewers have given enough good synopsis, so I will focus on a couple details not otherwise addressed:

About half of the negative reviews are slamming the protagonist for being too ego driven, and with over the top in skill sets they don't understand or believe. What the author was doing (Apologies to Mr Williamson if I am way off base here) was sharing with the reader what the type of person is like that can do these things. The Typical reader is not the same as Ken Chinran. Yes, he is obsessive about PT, training, and 'ahem' execution of his missions. The reader is not supposed to have a life changing epiphany and start doing 3 hours of PT a day themselves and become a special units operative. The reader is given the opportunity to look at the world thru one of those operatives eyes. There are Black OPS peeps in the business that are absolutely nothing like the ones shown here. But there are plenty with features written about here. AND, the features of Chinran were the ones required for the mission he was assigned.

I was a little surprised at some of the marketing being misleading as to the actual content of the story. Chinran's time spent E&Eing with his daughter were the very end of the story, and were more of an Epilogue than the actual events of the book. He was not living years of deep cover in the book where he married and started raising a family as implied. ***SPOILER ALERT ***In fact he was never really married and an unsurprising character ended up getting pregnant on the mission and delivered just over a month before the actual mission was to be executed on Earth. ***/end SPOILER*** So the implication that he had a Marriage as part of his cover was misleading.

I was somewhat disappointed that the MAIN event led up to in the entire story - and the multiple attacks across the entire Earth were actually covered in so few pages. I would have expected with the huge build up, that the actual attack back at Earth would have had some level of depth comparable to the training phase. Instead the main aspect covered was the covert nature of their preparation, and how his team avoided compromise prior to their mission being activated.

I will be disappointed if we never hear from Chinran and his daughter in the Freehold universe in the future. The final sentences lead us to believe that the Author is done with the character, so that just may be. I will also offer another possible Spoiler, that I was surprised to the final consequences to his teams. I mean, over the course of the story I gained a huge appreciation for their skill set and competencies. I expected... more survivors.

Editorially, I am surprised how much he focused on the Operatives use of "Boost" a drug that enhanced their short term performance in combat situations. There is a lot of allegory, and parallels in the story about current events and nations, but I the performance enhancing drugs just kept jarring on me, he only used them in a positive light. I don't really know why that this was so key to the story telling, time and again. Maybe an injection of not so fictional Sci-fi instead of the other contrivance of cybernetic enhancement often used in similar stories.

One final note: I appreciate the Universe he has created with the Freehold society of Grainne and its adversary the "UN." It has created an environment for him to critique current World affairs with some pretty clear analogies (and warnings) to present day. With some Prognostication of where "we" collectively are going. There are elements (more specifically articulated in the first book in the series "Freehold") that show a STONG lineage of a Heinleinesque organized anarchy as a successful government model. It would surprise me if Mr. Williamson had not read Starship Troopers and several other "way things ought to be" books of Heinlein's.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Used, Abused, and Contused, September 19, 2013
This review is from: The Weapon (Freehold Series) (Mass Market Paperback)
Despite others' reviews, this book is not an ode to Libertarianism, Randism, Objectivism or any other "ism". The politics involved are minimally intrusive. Instead, we are reading about the classic revolt of the independent colony. Yes, imperial Earth is evil, run by a corrupt United Nations. Yes, the colony world of Freehold is good. Yes, we are presented with a conflict between good and evil. Guess what? Heinlein did it. Silverberg did it. Lots of authors have done it. Why? Because it's a classic plot.

Williamson spins the plot his way, focusing on the training and deployment of Ken Chinran. Ken is the one-in-a-million top-notch Operative who is capable of out-thinking and out-maneuvering his opponents. Thus, he is given increasingly difficult tasks that require independent thought and action, far from his command.

This is a solid story of a human being being used as a weapon in the middle of a war. The story tackles some of the mental, physical, and moral consequences of treating a human as a weapon of war, as a tool to be used (devastatingly) without regard to those consequences. To Williamson's credit, the consequences are made manifest and the reader is left with quite a bit of moral ambiguity.

What's not so good is the endless detail associated with Chinran's training. It's like 100 pages of Navy SEAL "Hell Week" on steroids. I guess it's fine if you like that sort of thing; I did not.

But make no mistake, this is a solid story with a multi-faceted and memorable character. If you enjoy military SF, you will very likely enjoy this story as well.
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The Weapon (Freehold Series)
The Weapon (Freehold Series) by Michael Z. Williamson (Mass Market Paperback - March 27, 2007)
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