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Book Review: Alliance of Shadows by Mike Kupari and Larry Correia

Alliance of Shadows by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari
Alliance of Shadows by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

Alliance of Shadows is the third book of the Dead Six series.  It does a fantastic job of wrapping up multiple plot lines involving international conspiracies, global crime syndicates, and elements of the supernatural.

It still doesn’t displace my favorite of the series (Swords of Exodus), but it is nevertheless an excellent read.  There are some scenes of utter awesomeness, shared between teh two protagonists… oftentimes as they’re trying to outdo one another.

There’s also a fantastic bit of character development and growth.  The last book saw one of the characters sent to a very horrible place, with any number of questions about his survival.  The agonies he goes through and the tortures he experiences are portrayed in a way that shows his humanity stripped away.

Yet he comes back from that… and in a way, the story about how he does that is some of the most touching writing I’ve read in years… and it’s all the more raw for the fact that it comes from two very damaged people forgiving each other and themselves.

Of course, that description doesn’t do the book justice.  There’s explosions, gunfire, criminals throwing themselves to their deaths, more gunfire, more explosions, struggles to save the lives of millions, and still more gunfire.  There are sudden but inevitable betrayals and there is true-blue dedication from unexpected places.  This is a page-turner, once I started I couldn’t put it down… but that’s no different from the other two books.

Oddly, I think my favorite thing about the book is that it comes to a final conclusion and wraps the story up.  Too often anymore book series drag on, with the heroes facing ever greater odds… or worse, becoming trapped in a loop of growth to regression, where they run the same character arcs or stories over and over.  In Alliance of Shadows, the authors have brought the characters to their conclusions.  They’ve achieved their goals, they’ve become the heroes… and they get their much deserved rest.

Read the entire series, you won’t regret it.

Book Review: Swords of Exodus by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

51tvoi5njtlSwords of Exodus picks up with the characters from Dead Six in dire straits.  If you haven’t read my earlier review for Dead Six, you can read it here.

This is my favorite book of the series.   In fact, this is the book I read first in the series, then I went back and read Dead Six.  From the first pages it reels you in.  You see the growth of Lorenzo as he becomes more than an assassin, you see the start of Michael Valentine becoming a leader… and you get a grasp of something bigger in the world, something possibly supernatural.

The various conspiracies and plots from the first book also take a bigger role.  In the first book, the main characters were on the edge of things, not even caring about the greater repercussions.  In Swords of Exodus, we get a chance to see them faced with those repercussions and we see them become heroes.

The other rewarding aspect is that we see Michael and Lorenzo fight on the same side.  They don’t really like one another, but that just makes it even more fun.  These are two of the most lethal people in the world and you can tell that while they respect one another, there’s a professional rivalry and a bit of wanting to see who’s the better killer.

All in all, Swords of Exodus is a fantastic book in a series that was great on its own.  I highly recommend it, particularly if you’re a fan of conspiracy-theory near-future thrillers.   I can’t recommend it enough.

Book Review: Dead Six by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari

51ttz7guinl It’s not often that I’ll say something like this, but Dead Six is a book that disturbed me on a lot of levels.

It’s not that it isn’t a fantastic book.  There’s plenty of action.  There’s drama, there’s brilliant characters.  Lorenzo, in particular, is simply amazing, the rogue with a heart of gold written in a way that you can’t help but love him… and know that he’s an evil bastard at the same time.

What disturbs me is that the near-future setting of this novel is a bit too close for comfort.  Destabilized nations, corrupt politicians, and terrorist organizations whose goals are the destruction of everything the main characters know and love.

To make matters worse, the main characters aren’t in the know.  At the start, they’re actually in opposition to one another, which makes things hard.  Both of them are caught up in the schemes of some very bad people… and unfortunately a lot of good people get killed in the process.

The cover has a motto: Abandon All Hope.  In some ways you really have to do that at the start.  Dead Six hits the deepest fears of many veterans: abandonment, betrayal, and isolation.  It doesn’t pull any punches, either.

That said, it’s still a fantastic book.  Great humor, excellent action, and a fast-paced plot that keeps you turning pages.  Even better, it isn’t a book that holds your hand and explains everything going on.  The characters don’t know or don’t care about some of the issues that the reader may want to know.  It is up to the reader to figure those things out.

All in all, Dead Six is the start of a dark masterpiece.  A modern military thriller with far more soul than you would expect.  Check it out, read it, enjoy it, and know that the sequels only get better.

Review: Monster Hunter Grunge

Monster Hunter Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo
Monster Hunter Grunge by Larry Correia and John Ringo

I’m a prolific reader of a variety of books.  My current favorite author right now is Larry Correia and I’ve been a longtime reader of John Ringo… so when I’d first heard about Monster Hunter books written by Ringo and edited by Larry Correia, I was pretty excited.  It was a long wait for me, just under a year from when I first heard about the books.

I wasn’t really sure quite what to expect: the quirky humor of John Ringo, the snarky humor from Larry Correia, the impressive gun fights from Larry or the bombastic, over-the-top action that you find in a John Ringo book.  Both of them tell excellent stories, so that certainly wasn’t something I was worried about.

In the end, I’m still not really certain what I came away with.  There is humor and action and a story… but it all had a sort of manic energy to the writing that made it feel uneven.  Yes, there are hilarious sections and good action, but overall I’m not sure it fully pulled together.  It felt more like a series of “hey, cool, you’ll like this” scenes that only loosely followed a narrative.  The hints at future events both within this series and in the mainline series were entertaining but also jarring.

To be clear, it’s written as a journal, set before the events of the other MHI books.  It removes a bit of the tension, in that you know the main character will survive (until he finishes writing those journals at least).  The quips and references to future events are part of the “Unreliable Narrator” theme and they work… mostly.  The story jumps forward, from section to section and in parts the writing is brilliant and in others…

Well, I don’t want to spoil things, but there was a section that was clearly meant to be very moving and it didn’t have the profound impact it was meant to have.  The main character is so centrally focused that the other characters in the book aren’t fully fleshed out.  This is what threw me, I think, in that normally both authors put a lot of work into their characters and in this book, the side cast were utterly forgettable.  The main character is so over-the-top, so central to the story, that the others just fade out.

It isn’t a bad book by any margin.  There’s action, excitement, and Ringo and Correia fill in a ton of backstory that I loved to see.  It just didn’t hit the level of awesome that both authors can hit on their own.  By all means, I recommend picking up a copy.  I enjoyed it and I’ll read the other books in the series.

Review: Larry Correia’s Son of the Black Sword

Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia
Son of the Black Sword by Larry Correia

I’m a big fan of Larry Correia’s books in general, so when I had the opportunity to snag his upcoming epic fantasy book, the first of a new series, I bought it with little hesitation.

I’ll note here that I read an electronic Advanced Reader Copy (eARC) through Baen’s website. So I’m not going to comment on grammar or editing issues, I’m just going to talk the story.

This is a solid book. Larry Correia has created a deep world with complex issues. I’ll say right here that it is not a world I would want to live in. It is a world filled with petty tyrants, a caste system restrictive enough to get violators killed, and an overreaching bureaucracy that tries to control everything and only seems to succeed in making peoples lives miserable.

Into this world are cast a number of characters. Some good, some bad, some heroic with tragic flaws and others self-interested yet still willing to help others out. The main character is very remenicent of Agent Franks from Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series and even more so of his Clan Crab character from his Legend of the Five Rings RPG write-up. Ashok Vadal is as much of a weapon as the sword he carries. Yet underneath that, something troubles him, dreams and visions of things that make no sense to him. He fights evil unquestioningly, until something forces him to reexamine what evil really means.

The entire book is a great read. Lots of action and adventure and just enough world-building spread in so that you get the grasp of a full, living world, without getting bogged down in the details. I highly recommend it.

Publisher’s Blurb: After the War of the Gods, the demons were cast out and fell to the world. Mankind was nearly eradicated by the seemingly unstoppable beasts, until the gods sent the great hero, Ramrowan, to save them. He united the tribes, gave them magic, and drove the demons into the sea. Yet as centuries passed, Gods and demons became myth and legend, and the people no longer believed. The Age of Law began.

Ashok Vadal has been chosen by a powerful ancient weapon to be its bearer. He is a Protector, the elite militant order of roving law enforcers. No one is more merciless in rooting out those who secretly practice the old ways. Everything is black or white, good or evil, until he discovers his entire life is a fraud. Ashok isn’t who he thinks he is, and when he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, the consequences lead to rebellion, war—and destruction.

Links:

Son of the Black Sword (Amazon)

Son of the Black Sword (Baen ebook)