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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Military Scholar, December 3, 2006
This review is from: Tactics Of Mistake (Mass Market Paperback)
Tactics of Mistake (1971) is the second SF novel in the Childe Cycle, following Necromancer. In the previous volume, Walter Blunt started a revolution by his Chantry Guild to destroy the cultural basis of his society. Yet Paul Formain stopped him and sent his chief followers out to find their own destinies. When Kantele offered to stay, Paul sent her after Blunt.

In this novel, Alliance Lieutenant Colonel Cletus Grahame introduces himself to Dow DeCastries, Secretary of Outworlds Affairs for the Coalition. He also meets Colonel Eachan Khan of the Dorsai Mercenaries and his daughter Melissa, the Exotic Outbond Mondar, and Pater Ten of DeCastries's staff. Then Cletus leads Dow into a conversation and demonstration that causes the Coalition official to lose face to Grahame.

When the ship reaches Kultis, Pater Ten uses the ship-to-planet lines heavily, so much so that none are available to Cletus. When they debark the shuttle, Mondar offers Cletus a ride to the town of Bakhalla in the command car with Colonel Khan and Melissa. On the way, guerrillas ambush the command car and ignore the following bus. Grahame uses a gambit to counter-ambush the guerrillas.

Reporting to the commanding general, Bat Traynor, Cletus offers his services as tactical advisor. When Traynor disparages his usefulness, Cletus mentions the upcoming infiltration of a guerrilla attack group through Etter Pass. While Bat is still doubtful of Grahame's contributions to the Alliance effort, he does send a company of troops under a marginally competent commander to intercept the infiltrators. Captain Athyer is ordered to listen to Grahame's tactical advice.

After Grahame and six men capture more than three dozen guerrillas, while Athyer and his men capture none, Traynor gives Cletus permission to set up a tactical briefing facility. Athyer is reassigned as liaison to the Exotic library at Grahame's insistence. Cletus goes on to capture a large number of men and supplies before they can infiltrate into the town, using the Alliance Navy detachment in Bakhalla harbor. The Navy wants more opportunities to capture guerrillas.

In this story, Grahame defeats every move by DeCastries and the guerrillas and eventually captures a large portion of the Neulander Colony regular troops. Cletus resigns from the Western Alliance military and emigrates to the Dorsai. There he starts training a new kind of soldier. He and DeCastries are fated to meet again.

Highly recommended for Dickson fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of military tactics, political intrigue, and a touch of romance.

-Arthur W. Jordin
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