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Starfist: Firestorm Hardcover – June 26, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In the exciting 12th military SF novel to feature the Confederation Marine 34th Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) from Sherman and Cragg (after 2006's Starfist: Flashfire), former gunnery sergeant and now ensign Charlie Bass and his platoon of Devil Dogs are pulled out of the quarantine to which their knowledge of the alien Skink menace condemned them, to participate in a campaign against a coalition of worlds that wishes to secede from the Confederation. Bass and his platoon have the misfortune to end up in a situation similar to the U.S. Civil War's Peninsula Campaign, under a Marine-hating army general who makes McClellan look like Rommel. The authors continue to excel both at showing the cruel randomness of war and at affectionately portraying the military subculture and ethos. Readers looking for accounts of futuristic combat that depict realistically the psychology of men in battle need look no further.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
On the planet Ravenite, Confederation Marines face rebels reminiscent of nineteenth-century Confederates and a commander who hates marines to the point of treason. Fortunately, an army general becomes an ally willing to defy their own hateful general. The marines have better training and intelligence than those of their opponents, and they will need it because the alien Skinks are going to be back in the next Starfist volume, in which series devotees can expect more, too, of Charlie Bass. More of the usual good stuff for military sf buffs from two master depicters of grunts at war, which Sherman and Cragg themselves once were. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Sure, there are a fair amount of marine action but it is pretty much the same stuff that we have now read in a number of books rehashed and it really takes a back seat to the political nonsense and manoeuvring. The only redeeming fact is that the a--hole General do, finally, get what he deserves in the end but it is a meagre reward for having had to slug through the entire book.
So far I have read 12 out of the 14 available books in this series. The first half, even a bit more, of the series have been very good indeed. Now, I am hesitating whether I will be able to build up the force to read the remaining two books. The author claims that it was the publisher that took the decision not to publish any more books after the 14th one. If the last two are like this one I would have to agree with that decision.
First, it was refreshing to have Gun-, er, Ensign Bass and his troops in a human conflict. As Sherman and Cragg had done in a prior book in the series, they have brought to life very authentic and familiar human characters with very human conflicts. The rebel Coalition in this book feels very real and the authors do a good job of making their cause feel valid. Of course, the Coalition is filled with characters with both good and bad intent but as you read, you realize that the Confederation has its own bad intentioned citizens.
The next thing I loved about this book was all of the action. If you are reading this review, I am assuming you have read some of the other books in the series. By now you might feel, as I do, that the action in the series has gotten dangerously thin. With all due respect to the authors, while I want plot and depth in my books, the reason I am reading a book series called Starfist (worst name ever) is for some low impact, fun, and easy reading. I was beginning to believe that the authors, to some degree, had begun to get away from their "bread and butter." However, Firestorm brings the action non-stop. I would guess that 75% of this book is combat and combat is where Sherman and Cragg are at their best.
To conclude, I guess I would suggest not starting here if you are thinking of just getting this book cold. Go back to book one and get to know the cast of characters. The authors have done a great job of creating a long series that still appears to have plenty of runway. With 14 Starfist books completed to date, you give yourself plenty of long term entertainment that way. As you read through the series, you will love some books more than others. This book will likely land near the top of your list.
One other caution; Best be comfortable with a view that Marines are superior to the Army. At least one of my WWII Uncles would have hated being told that Army soldiers were inferior to Marines. He would, however been in complete agreement about the "Supreme" Commander. His time in the Pacific saved me from being named Douglas who lost a lot of luster in my family when he returned 6 months before V-J day and provided them with a non heroic opinion of a famous General.