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War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 307 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top Customer Reviews
Peter Grant (you know him as Bayou Renaissance Man) has drawn on his own combat experience to create this story in the same universe as his first three novels (The Maxwell Saga: Take The Star Road, Ride The Rising Tide, and Adapt and Overcome).
War to the Knife starts out like an episode of Firefly, a familiar-enough setting: small frontier town, rough-and-rugged individuals, on an occupied planet. There are veterans of a recent war, occupying forces, and enough injustice to start the war back up again.
Soon the scope widens as we meet more people, and the reader comes to realize that it's a planet-wide scenario - and the veterans are the backbone of the Resistance.
But there's a problem: the occupying force has nearly exterminated the people of this planet, to take their natural resources. The remnant of survivors in this battle for survival are outnumbered, and out-gunned, and nearly out of options. They decide to fight back with everything they have in one final, decisive battle, knowing that many of them will not survive.
The characters are real, the action fast-paced, and the plot compelling. The phrase "page turner" gets over-used, but you can trust me on this: you won't want to put it down until you find out what comes next.
Final comments to the author and others writing in this genre. Fer cryin out loud, DO THE MATH!!! I accept smoke and mirrors, we all do, ftl, reactionless thrusters, artificial gravity are the stuff of sci-fi, as much as radio with pictures from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues was, but distances, acceleration at g forces over time cannot be fudged.
Still, Grant is not a first time author and this is not a debut novel so I am less inclined to forgive the lack of fizz and pop in "War to the Knife". My particular disappointment centered on the dialog which was stilted, and because for a full-on military novel there seemed no core military competency. Specifically, apart from a smattering of terms, the deep conviction of battle and command structures was missing.
Indeed, I took time out from reading "War to the Knife" to devour Dietz's very solid "By Blood Alone (Legion)" and probably should not have. "War to the Knife" did not generate anywhere near the visceral feel of combat and lacked the myriad incidental details that support the 'been there, done that' vibe that Dietz brings to the table. Grant's bio cites "military service" but whatever that was, it did not seep through strongly enough for me.
I also wondered about the air-gap in technology. For example, the good guys circumvent the bad guys surveillance at will, which is attributed to the sheer genius of one of their team. It seemed artifice rather than a likely capability of a future resistance force, and the blasé lack of cryptography seemed lazy. Likewise the story arc about getting evidence of atrocities off planet in person that simmered in the background. I kept wondering what it was about a single personal account of the situation that would convey more credibility than petabytes of digitally signed content, especially when that person was a third party with only one side of the story.
Apart from that, Grant's plot is straightforward and linear. The baddies are initially portrayed as arrogant incompetents, but a change of character mid-way sets that to rights and it raises the tension at least. The good guys are your basic white hat brigade, fighting the good fight in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and the slow, pointless grind of their circumstances was well handled.
But because the dialog was so leaden pretty much across the board, I never really felt immersed in the action and was not invested emotionally in their situation. Certainly, I am not sufficiently compelled to want to purchase any subsequent chapters in what is clearly - by the title alone, if not the ending - a trilogy or more.
So, the summary. I think that Grant has written a good YA adventure novel. It is innocent enough in tone and content for the teenage audience, and does not introduce too much moral ambiguity to undermine them forming their own 'good citizen' ethic (actually, the reflection on how war has changed the good guys sensibilities is nicely done, I liked that a lot). It moves at a reasonable pace and the characters are recognizable stereotypes - on both sides of the divide - some of which have a dusting of gray for good measure.
Still, that is not enough for me and Grant fails to concentrate the military experience and slap you about with it, veer off in unexpected and delightful directions, or challenge you with an ending you are not expecting. If you want that, go read Dietz...or better yet, Morgan's "Altered Carbon", a brilliant debut that grips you by the throat from the start and never lets go.
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