I picked this military science fiction offering off the shelves as I kept tripping over John Ringo’s name on various forums and thought it was about time I gave one of his books a go.
Whoever wrote it – a blurb should give a quick taste of what the book has to offer, whereas a synopsis is a condensed version of the story, complete with spoilers. Please don’t get the two confused! If I’d read the jacket cover before diving between the covers, I probably wouldn’t have stuck with this book. The omniscient viewpoint isn’t my favourite style and it was taking me a while to bond with any of the characters – until the event mentioned in the second sentence of the blurb occurred on page 70. It was a total shock and finally hooked me. Which means the hapless souls who’d read the blurting blurb had to wade through 69 pages waiting for this particular shoe to drop… C’mon, Baen! Such inept cover info isn’t playing fair with your readers or writers of Ringo’s calibre, who no doubt crafted the story twist to bond his readers with his major protagonist.
Despite being the twelfth book in the series, I didn’t find myself floundering or particularly adrift – Ringo does a very slick job of filling in any necessary information without losing pace – although I suspect that I would have enjoyed Eye of the Storm a great deal more if I’d had the good sense to start at the beginning of this series. It is a tale of alien treachery and planetary warfare in a universe where soldiers are rejuvenated to enable them to continue fighting into old age to keep humankind from being wiped out. Complete with plenty of action and a large cast of characters.
Ringo mostly keeps the plot swinging along at a good clip. He is clearly knowledgeable about military protocols and although his characterisation isn’t particularly detailed or deep it is certainly fit for purpose, aided by realistic dialogue with regular dollops of humour. Despite plenty of action, Ringo doesn’t go in for the gritted bleakness of the likes of Richard Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs series and while there is a smattering of curse words throughout the book, the f-word isn’t used as a universal adjective.
I very much enjoyed Ringo’s military hardware and the descriptions of the training regime as human troops struggle to prepare against a lethal enemy while the clock is ticking. The notion that the troops are only as good as their ability to use the latest hardware with speed and efficiency is entirely plausible. However, there are places where the pace does dip – too much time is devoted to the points system and auction allocating places to the influx of volunteers. My imagination also faltered over the bizarre image of a sentient space ship in the shape of a naked woman which I found unbelievable and distracting. Overall, though, this is an entertaining read which I expect Ringo fans will thoroughly enjoy and I will try get hold of the sequel to find out what happens next.