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Customer Review

This series is very good both in terms of research and information and in just plain fun. However, from book to book the writing and storytelling are very uneven. This is not something you can blame on the co authors. The worst offenses seem to come from Flint.
The primary offense is the Mary Sue issue: Mike Stearns, the main character in this book (regrettably) is an author avatar, and like any author avatar the author is overly invested in his own greatness and wisdom. It was merely annoying in the first books, it is deadly in the later ones. We get lectured over and over again about how wise and wonderful the author avatar his own greatness. As a great leader of men and fount of wisdom, the author avatar is not only not convincing, but sometimes ridiculous.
There is also excessive author tract. Yes, a story should have a moral, yes, Flint is mostly right in his ideas. But the story should carry the idea without necessity of excessive sermons.
A second issue is that Flint through away his moral compass in "Dresson Incident." He is not interested in recovering it. You could go along with some of the decisions prior to then. The world of the 30 years war was not for the faint hearted or the squeamish. With "Dreesson Incident Flint joined the monsters and did them better at their own game of fictionalized mass murder
Why bother any more? The good overbalances the bad. There is a ton of good information here, and lots of engaging characters from previous books that are interesting and fun. A drawback to this book is we don't see enough of them. Ulrick and Kristina make an interesting pair, and help relieve the narrative.
There are loads of characters. Fint has the uncanny positive ability to see things from the perspective of all of them and tell a story from their point of view. Everyone follows their own internal logic and does things that are rational for them. Flint has very good explanations for the why of each person in the story. It all makes a very good story with motivations that work. No one is better at getting into the head of his characters and understanding what makes them move. Most other writers need a pawn in a certain square and move the pawn in a way that moves the story. Flint is champion at understanding his people and their motivations and that is why these books are so worthwhile. Despite all the other baggage.
There are a lot of interesting story threads in this book which are continued from "Baltic War" and "Bavarian Crisis." It is fun to see them move on. It would have been better to have seen more of them. (I Would like to see more on what happened with Eddie Cantrell) There is too much Mike Sterns is a genius. Especially when it seems a lot of the time he most certainly is not.

This is an entertaining read. Get it from the library. Maybe buy it in paperback. And hope Flint recovers and brings back the more interesting folks that made Baltic War and Bavarian Crisis entertaining.
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