Lair of the Geek

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John G. Hemry – Stark`s War – Book 1

On receiving Stark`s War, written by John G. Hemry, I was greeted to a nice looking book the cover depicting a soldier, which I presume to be Stark in his battle armor, looking into the distance as if surveying the battlefield. The Moon is behind him. Just holding the book in my hands and seeing the cover gave me pause to think what battles I would be reading about once I opened the book. On turning the book around I gave myself time to look at the back cover to see what the synopsis would tell me, I was excited by it and thought ‘Yes, I am in for a great read’.

The story is set in a world where the USA has raised to the top of the Superpowered countries and now reigns supreme on the Earth, and is fast becoming a very small place. As foreign countries fight to claim what is theirs and America fight to keep hold of what they think is theirs. The Law of war has changed a lot from today, the more technology has advanced, the easier it is for the powers that be to control the soldiers on the battlefield, albeit from a distance. Tactics are downloaded to the soldiers on the ground for them to follow, to the letter. Times are also set and what is even worse, war has become a TV show for the masses to watch, so every soldier is fitted with a cam so the officers can watch the whole battle from the comfort of their office chair. But what makes it worse is the fact that they plan battles on how the ratings are, if they are low they plan high-risk ops to try and get ratings up because low ratings mean less money for the military.

The military is a life choice for most people but many people don’t have a choice as they are born into service. Only a few decide to leave ‘Civ Street’ for the military and what I found great is how the two are shown. Most civilians know that they are here to fight for them but don’t really want to get any closer to a soldier than they have to, which is kind of different to what I was expecting to read about.

Since I began reading Jack Campbell/John G. Hemry’s book the thing that amazed me about his writing style is how realistic he makes the characters, it seems to be consistent of his style as I also found this in The Lost Fleet and I’m still finding it now in Stark`s War. The ability he has to do this in so few paragraphs is outstanding, and it doesn’t stop there! The combat scenes are also just as real. In Stark`s War, you follow Sargent Stark and the Third Squad. Stark seems to be troubled by his past, and looking after the Third Squad seems to be a high priority for him. When orders come from tactical, that will put his men in trouble, if he can see a better way out of the situation or a better way to proceed he will very happily change the orders to best suit him. This blatant disregard sees him get into a lot of trouble. Another Sargent who also plays a main roll in the story and seems to be Starks conscience is Sargent Reynolds, Commander of the First Squad, who herself has a few demons. Together they seem to help each other out a lot, she seems to know a great deal of information about what is going on. The Third Squad that makes up the platoon is the Second Squad that is command by Sargent Shanchez. He is a cool and calm guy and you never can really tell what’s going on behind his eyes as he keeps his emotions very closed off to people. He knows the rules inside and out and never really lets anything faze him, even when in the midst of battle.

One thing I really enjoyed about this setting is how the technology was not over the top. I sometimes find that sci-fi books bog themselves down with needless techno speech, whereas in Stark’s War there is a nice balance between keeping the story on track and also bring that sci-fi setting to life, with ships and armour which really make for a refreshing change. I also enjoyed the flashbacks that a few of the characters had it really helped with bring them to life and grounded them in the story. The whole book from beginning to end is paced well. I found myself wanting to keep reading, as the plot twisted and turned. I wanted to discover how each problem was played out and how the characters dealt with it. When I had finished the book it left me with a great sense of enjoyment and I am very much looking forward to picking the next book up in the trilogy: Starks Command.

This is a great stage setting for the Stark trilogy, it brings together so much. The battles are described so vividly you really do think you are there. If you love military Scifi, then this is a must read but even if you don’t and you just like a good story with some really rounded characters wrapped up in a setting set in the future, then you really can not go wrong with this book. I loved it!

TITAN BOOKS Released 9th September 2011 £7.99