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March Upcountry (March Upcountry (Paperback)) Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
An established master of military SF, Weber, and a fast-rising comer in the genre, Ringo, combine forces in the first of a new series sure to please their fans. Prince Roger Ramius Sergei Alexander Chiang MacClintock has a problem. Thanks to terrorist sabotage, he and a company of space marines are marooned in the wilderness of the planet Marduk, noted for high mountains, high temperatures, low technology and the short tempers of its nine-foot, four-armed, slime-covered natives. They have to get out of this place. In their effort to do so, they win allies among the Mardukans (mostly in legitimate ways) and overcome others by judiciously combining sneakiness and firepower. Along the way, the prince turns from a spoiled brat into a useful, even valuable member of the company. This coming-of-age theme often crops up in military SF, and indeed both authors are working within territory they know well. The pace never gets too slow, despite generous world-building and extended action scenes. Another strength is the deceptively deep characterization particularly of Prince Roger, whose transformation draws on skills and character traits carefully planted early in the novel. The book could actually use more background (the villainous terrorist Saints are shadow figures) and ends on a cliff-hanger (or cliff-climber), but overall the superb storytelling will add considerably to the reputation of both authors. (May)most recent novel is Gust Front, reviewed in Forecasts, Mar. 12.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Prince Roger, third child of the Empress of Man, finds himself a reluctant warrior when sabotage forces his diplomatic mission to make an emergency landing on a barbaric planet filled with savage predators and unexpected dangers. As the soldiers of the Bronze Battalion of the Empress's Own Regiment face a brutal march across the planet to get their royal charge to safety, Roger finds his own courage tested to the limit. Best known for his "Honor Harrington" series, Weber teams with Ringo (A Hymn Before Battle) to inaugurate a new series that combines military sf with political intrigue. Sure to appeal to both authors' avid readers.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Granted, the character development does leave something to be desired, especially regarding the "alien" Cord. This sort of story, however, does not really require a lot of personal insight to be successful. Stock characters are sufficient to give an idea of motivation, and the battle scenes are excellent.
In all, this looks like a promising beginning to a series (a trilogy, or so I've heard). Possibly future installments will focus more on the characters and their personalities, but even if they don't this series should be good for a light, fast read. I recommend this book particularly for fans of Tanya Huff's VALOR'S CHOICE as they seem to have a lot in commmon.
Roger is sent packing, over his immature objections, on a state visit to participate in a boring and unpleasant, but politically necessary ceremony on an unpleasant and distant world. Along with him are bundled his immediate staff, and a contingent of his long-suffering and generally contemptuous bodyguard. Along the way, the military transport in which the prince is traveling is sabotaged and critically damaged by a pre-programmed 'zombie' traitor, and the ship is left limping towards the only star system within reach. Things go from bad to worse as they stumble upon a force of hostile warships sneaking about in Imperial territory and clearly up to no good. Convinced that the only habitable planet, Marduk, has been compromised, and determined to prevent the capture of a member of the Family Royal by the fanatical and generally unprincipled foe, Prince Roger is bundled off in a shuttle force with as many of his bodyguard as will fit, again over his immature objections. Meanwhile, as the shuttle force makes its way to a covert planet-fall, the crippled transport makes a stand against the opposing force, managing to destroy the last of them by a suicidal ruse.
Landing on the far side of a large planet from the only human base, facing a hostile terrain and climate, Prince Roger's force must figure a way to march clear around the globe and assault the enemy troops holding that base, with only a long company of 'lightly' equipped Marine-bodyguards. Further worsening matters is the facts that they must make their way on foot, and they have roughly six months in which to make this epic journey, because the flora and fauna of Marduk are markedly lacking in certain critical human dietary requirements, and there are only enough nutritional supplements to last the assembled force half a year. It's "Get to the base, or starve trying."
Soon after the March Upcountry begins, the prince begins to show some signs of unsuspected depth. His self-indulgent field trips and risk-taking pleasures have been dismissed as the pursuits of a spoiled playboy, but they have left the prince a talented athlete, and a skilled hunter along the lines of the adventurous European aristocracy of the eighteenth century. Prince Roger is as crack a shot as any "great white hunter" of that era, and as physically competent as any extreme athlete. In addition, he's benefitted from the genetic and cybernetic tinkering that all Imperial family members receive, making him surprisingly competent in the primitive conditions he finds himself. His bodyguard are bemused to find their contemptible object of duty displaying advanced skills they never knew he possessed. The bodyguard company is a surprise to it's own members, too, as they begin to discover that while each member was selected for military competence, they were also selected for diversity of other skills, too. The jungle is full of seriously dangerous life, the hostile climate causes breaks-down in their gear, native politics and cultures complicate their planning, and raiding natives displaced by larger, more aggressive tribes threaten their lives. Never-the-less, the assembled company move off through the lethal jungles of Marduk, on their mission to Get The Prince Home, even as they learn startling things about each other and their prince. Death and blood will follow their trail, but they've got a mission, and they're not about to fail.
The technology of March Upcountry is interesting, fully developed, and well thought-through. Technical aspects are glossed over, where the workings of the equipment is too close to 'magical', and this is a good thing. While the technology is required to make the story work, Weber avoids trying to explain things he can't explain, and doesn't tempt us to inquire by adding too much detail. Instead, he supplies a few essential tid-bits for verisimilitude, and then asks us to believe the rest. OK, fair enough: I'll believe it works. This is an area where other S-F writers would do very well to copy him.
The politics of the court are also left vague, with just enough detail to show the court as a real snake pit, without creating plot holes with excess detail. Again, this is effective and I like it. In other books, I've observed authors sinking themselves into inescapable traps by trying to document parts of the story that do their skills no credit. Weber avoids this, and moves on with his story. Bravo!
The characters are multi-facetted, and show personal development. This is too rare in military/adventure S-F, and for that alone, I would recommend this book.
I detect some elements of Xenophon and his Ten-Thousand in this story, which is a bit of history I would strongly recommend to any person interested in military S-F, as I would also recommend the exploits of the historical Belisarius. Overall, this is as good as it gets within the genre today, and I unreservedly recommend this book as a top-flight read.
Alexandra VII, Empress of Man, was determined to keep her youngest son out of direct danger. Therefore, she sent Roger to a remote planet named Leviathan as a show of imperial support. The Bronze Battalion was to transport and guard the prince during it all.
While en route, the military ship was sabotaged and then was under enemy attack. Very few survived and were stranded on the planet Marduk. The Marines would have to trek half way around the globe in hope of commandeering an imperial ship for a return to Earth. However, the natives were NOT friendly! Even the local fauna would try to eat anything that moved! The heat and almost constant rain made things worse. Prince Roger would just have to get over himself and grow up FAST!
***** First off, ignore the awful cover art, I don't believe it is the fault of the authors. No, the female Marine is NOT ballet dancing. No, Prince Roger does NOT look that way. In fact, the prince has very long, blond hair that any woman would envy. One Marine referred to it as "the hair of Lady Godiva."
Other than the cover art, the book is beyond excellent! The story is VERY well written, realistic, has a touch of humor, and the Marines can really kick BUTT! The prince matures steadily and even becomes an asset to the team! He also has the most awesome assassin program in his "toot". All-in-all, this is highly recommended reading! *****
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a good book! A seemingly run-of-the-mill trip turns into something totally unexpected too where the survivors are left on a planet they know little...Read more