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Knox's Irregulars Paperback – October 1, 2014
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About the Author
J. Wesley Bush currently lives and works in Kiev, Ukraine, where he reports on economics. He has previously served as an airborne infantryman, military intelligence cryptolinguist, NGO worker, and historian. He also spent two years as a unicyclist in a circus. He is the husband of a lovely wife and the proud father of five boys.
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Top customer reviews
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What I find particularly interesting in the pattern of positive reviews is that this is the only book reviewed by most of them and the review dates are mostly all around the same time. That's kind of suspicious. Given the fact that the author's wife is pitching in hassling people who give bad reviews, I'm wondering how many of those reviews are just complete spam since almost none of these single book reviewers purchased the book. I think we have a crisis of morality here.
Basically it's a piece of hate literature. Plane and simple. An a crudely crafted one at that. I find it ironic that 'chriatians' are chiming in liking it. Seems like they should be denouncing it.
Randal Knox never wanted to be a leader, but as the eldest son of the Prime Minister of New Geneva, he appeared destined for the political arena. Averse to the idea, Randal enlists in the armored infantry, preferring a life in the military to being a political figure.
When the Khlisti - followers of a religion cobbled together from Marxism, Islam, and New age spirituality - seize control of neighboring Abkhenazia, Randal's world is turned completely upside down. An overwhelming army of zealots cross the border into New Geneva, scattering its small defense force and sending the survivors running for their lives. Randal pulls together a handful of armored infantry and takes shelter in the mountain city of Providence.
But the respite is short-lived. With Providence under the control of Colonal Gregor Tsepashin, Randal Knox faces a choice between hiding safely in the catacombs... and leading his motley crew of fighters in guerilla warfare against the enemy.
Thus is the premise behind J. Wesley Bush's new novel Knox's Irregulars - a futuristic military thriller set in the 25th century and laced with science fiction, first-rate adventure, wry humor, and memorable characters. Needless to say, I'm impressed.
I can count on one hand the modern novels I've read that smoothly incorporate Christianity into the storyline. Most fail for one of two reasons: either the author hasn't a clue about what he believes, or he doesn't know how to communicate it without turning the book into an artistically-deficient soapbox. J. Wesley Bush avoids both these pitfalls.
Christian themes and characters (and a staunch respect for the Calvinist principals of the Reformation) are abundant, but they're woven in without force - thus lending the story substance without reducing it to platitudinous sermonizing.
The characters - from Randal Knox to Arianne to the mad Belorussian immigrant Lebedev - are three-dimensional and wonderfully-imagined, developing naturally as the story progresses. No stale cardboard cutouts here, and thank goodness for that. Personally, I would've appreciated reading a little more about Colonel Tsepashin, but this is a minor complaint: the focus of the book is Knox and his irregulars, and in that regard, Bush's character-crafting is more than satisfactory.
Best of all is the quality of the writing: it's smooth, polished, and consistently good throughout. The dialogue is realistic, the pacing is smart, and the sprinkling of wry humor is funny without ever jeopardizing the overall seriousness of the story. Also worth noting are the action sequences, which are crisply written and exciting. Bush's attention to the technical details - he previously served as an airborne infantryman, military intelligence cryptolinguist, and NGO worker - make his fascinating vision of futuristic warfare all the more believable.
For those wondering about content, there's not much to be concerned about here. Of course, there's quite a bit of war violence, as good guys and bad guys alike are annihilated by a plethora of futuristic armaments; and while these sequences are intense, they're seldom gory. A smattering of mild language is present, and there is some (tasteful) discussion of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Sexuality is nil: the relationship between Randal and Arianne is a sweet one, and while they do share several kisses (which I would've preferred they save until marriage), their romance is overall as chaste and lovely a one as you could possibly hope for.
I was initially troubled by the fact that the two primary female characters were serving side-by-side with men in the New Genevan military force. After some consideration, however, I wouldn't say Bush is endorsing this sort of egalitarianism, but rather merely presenting it as a likely - if less than ideal - scenario. Judging by the state of our present military, I'm inclined to agree that he is (unfortunately) correct.
All in all, I heartily recommend Knox's Irregulars. As far as I can see, its only real "flaw" is in forcing the reader to wait for future installments of what looks to be a series-in-the-making. I think J. Wesley Bush is to be commended for skillfully taking on the challenge issued by C.S. Lewis decades ago: "We don't need more Christian writers: we need more good writers, and composers, who are Christian."
- Corey P.
P.S. Due to Amazon's review policy, and the fact that my Mom ("Queen Mom") is the one who originally ordered Knox's Irregulars, I had to use her account to publish this review.
I first got to know Mr. Bush's writing through his old blog "Le Sabot Post Moderne" way back in the "mid-naughties". His blog was so effective in its defense of a vigorous Christianity and an unashamed western civilization, that it was actually hacked at least once by islamist radicals.
A similar cultural clash on a planet at the edge of known space in the 25th century is the subject of his new book, "Knox's Irregulars". The book opens with the Terran Hegemony granting sovereignty to a planet colonized by two very different peoples. The New Genevans are a small group of Calvinistic space pilgrims inspired to Christian faith by the Second Great Reformation of the 23rd century. They have found a way to live freely and prosperously on a small, rocky peninsula on a backwater planet, living their lives as they believe God would have them do. Their jealous neighbors to the north, the Abkhenazi, are a Neo-Islamist people who believe that they can forcefully advance the evolution of humans into beings of pure energy by inhumane scientific experimentation and collectivist living. Since these two outlooks mix like oil and water, one does not turn too many pages in this book before the struggle comes to a clash of arms.
Mr. Bush's writing is high quality: heart-pounding action is interspersed with the wry humor one would expect from a group of people whose lives are under threat every day. It's clear that the author has been around the world to experience the full spectrum of humanity. His characters are vivid, easily distinguishable from the inside out, and believable in their diversity, freely slipping into their various native tongues under the influence of strong emotion. The internal conflict of various characters reflect and influence the war happening all around them. One character that stands out is Jeni Cho. She reminds me a bit of Abby Sciuto from NCIS: Seasons 1-8, and her offbeat manner is a welcome foil to the hard-nose Randal Knox.
The well-picked quotes from historical figures placed at the beginning of each chapter do much to set the tone of the book and spur thought within the reader. In the spirit of Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers, the author also sprinkles some philosophical debate between his various characters, but these conversations don't get a chance to get too long-winded or preachy before the greater conflict once again intervenes.
Overall, "Knox's Irregulars" is a great page-turner, and I highly recommend it. The closer you get to the end of the book, the harder it is to put down.
Most recent customer reviews
It is a shame cause it's pretty obvious the author could write some nice mil scifi if he put the effort.
SPOILER ALERT.Read more