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The Ghost Brigades Hardcover – July 25, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 732 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Old Man's War Series

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Hardcover, July 25, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This fast-paced interstellar military drama doesn't quite meet the high expectations set by its predecessor, Scalzi's acclaimed Old Man's War (2005), but it comes impressively close. Shifting focus from seniors in young bodies to infants in old bodies, it follows Jared Dirac, a superhuman soldier, from unusual birth to ambiguous death. Dirac is an altered clone of Charles Boutin, a military scientist who betrayed humankind to alien aggressors, and the Colonial Defense Forces' only hope of finding Boutin lies in transplanting his memories into Dirac's brain. When the transplant seems to fail, Dirac is sent to Special Forces, known as the Ghost Brigades for their habit of creating new soldiers from the DNA of the dead. His indoctrination there comes in handy when Boutin's memories begin to surface. Scalzi pays gleeful homage to Ender's Game, The Forever War and Starship Troopers, sometimes at the expense of originality. All he needs to make the jump from good to great is to trust in his own ideas. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Though it's a sequel of sorts to his 2005 debut, Old Man's War, John Scalzi's new novel is hardly business as usual. Beyond the battles and the portent of humanity's end, Scalzi plays with deeper issues of identity in an increasingly technological world in this second volume of a proposed trilogy. A switch from first person to third and one narrator (Dirac) who is unaware of his own role in the story might hold the book back from must-read status, but otherwise The Ghost Brigades gleams with the best traits of thoughtful SF.<BR>Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Subterranean; Signed, Limited edition (November 26, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596061316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596061316
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (732 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,479,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on March 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is billed as a sequel to Old Man's War, but it really isn't. While set in the same universe, it has only marginal ties to the earlier book, in the person of Jane Sagan, John Perry's love interest in that book. Instead, this book is a much closer look at the Special Forces, soldiers created from the genetic material of several people, including some now dead (hence the `Ghost' appellation). These people are force grown, then decanted into the world with their Brain Pal as their immediate mentor, giving them the capabilities and knowledge of adults when only hours old. The same Brain Pal technology allows them to integrate with their squad mates: a form of aided telepathy that allows not only for quick training but gives these individuals a sense of community and family they would otherwise not have.

The story revolves around the search for a traitorous scientist, Charles Boutin, who helped developed the Brain Pal technology and the ability to store and relocate a person's consciousness (or, depending on your point of view, their soul). Jared Dirac is a newly created clone (with enhancements) of this person, and an attempt is made to load Dirac's brain with a copy Boutin's consciousness in an effort to find out why Boutin became a traitor and where he might have gone. This attempt apparently doesn't work, and Dirac is placed with a Special Forces squad led by Jane. Dirac's development as a person is the main focus of the work from this point on.

The book starts well, with an action-oriented opening chapter that grabs, but then the next fifty pages drag somewhat, as Scalzi sets up the scenario for the rest of the book and explains the technology and military situation.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Other than names, no specifics (i.e., spoilers) are given in this review. Incidentally, I do not consider 3 stars to be a "bad" review--the book is okay. It is fine as a bridge between Old Man's War (O.M.W.) and the Last Colony [anyone else find that title to be a bit of a spoiler?].

Make sure you read OMW first. It comes first sequentially, but is also a much better book. While Ghost Brigades uses the same recipe as the first book, it uses inferior ingredients in cooking up a similar piece of fiction.

The protagonist from OMW (John Perry) is missing from this book. The other characters from OMW that DO appear in the sequel are flat. Jane Sagan, who should have a great deal more depth and empathy than anyone else in the Special Forces, is completely superfluous to the story [anyone could have replaced her as the SF commander]. She is not developed one iota from the first book, and appears to have actually flattened in the interim.
Harry Wilson returns in what could have been a great supporting role, but is made completely unnecessary by a scientist called Cainen.

The "mystery" inherent to the story suffers from at least one major plot-hole: no one ever reads the suspect's personnel file. The characters involved ALL have the highest level of clearances, including two generals, one colonel, and a military intelligence officer (Sagan), among others. They live in a world in which the internet more-or-less exists inside everyone's head. Files can be downloaded and read almost instantaneously. While trying to deduce the villain's motivations, it simply never occurs to them to access his file.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like Old Man's War, this new novel is somewhere between a fanboy's homage and a real work of art- but it's a lot closer to the latter than the former. The alliance of three hostile species alluded to in the blurbs adds more than enough tension to keep the atmosphere sizzling, and the habits of some of the species encountered bring horror to the table as well. The surprises keep coming as we learn more about the CDF's Special Forces, and Jane Sagan (from OMW) plays a large part in the story.

It's been a long time since I sat down with a new book and read it from beginning to end, probably since Rosenberg's 'Paladins.' Thanks very much, Mr. Scalzi.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book continues the 'Old Man's War' series, here focusing on the 'Ghost Brigades' and bringing us closer to understanding how those troops have been created and how the universe at this point in time has evolved. The ghost brigades had been a part of the first book but without detailed explanation. Now, their background and capabilities become much more clear.

The story is excellent and introduces several major new characters, some of whom will continue into one or more of the following stories.

These books by John Scalzi have brought me back to reading science fiction, after several decades away. Scalzi's style of writing is very reminiscent of Robert Heinlein, and since Heinlein was my favorite author as a youth, I've found myself quickly drawn to these stories. I'm working my way through the series and coming to them late, as I have, has been beneficial since I'm able to read them one after the other, without waiting for each to come along. I'll be through the five existing books well in advance of the publication of the sixth later this year.

Books in the 'Old Man's War' series, to date:

Book 1: Old Man's War (2005)
Book 2: The Ghost Brigades (2006)
Book 3: The Last Colony (2007)
Book 4:
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