Monday, September 05, 2016

Virtues Of War - Bennett R. Coles

Book Details

Book Title: Virtues Of War

Author: Bennett R. Coles

: Titan Books

Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Page Count: 458

Format: Paperback

Genre: Military Science-Fiction

ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon: 978-1783294206

Audience: Those who love both military tactics/content and heavy science-fiction

Summed up in one word: Multiplex

Author Bio: Bennett R. Coles is a Canadian author who spent 15 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. After obtaining a wealth of experience in the Navy, he retired in 2005 and established the publishing company Promontory Press, which is dedicated to helping talented new authors get an audience.

First Impression: Virtues Of War is an intense, war ridden, political blast through deep space and beyond. Having crafted a massive setting for this story and created quite a few characters to populate it, BRC had his work cut out for him. Across almost 500 pages, BRC has managed to combine realistic military politics, language and behaviour with deep space physics and theories. I am going to be completely honest and say that this is a rather heavy read, but by the end I was ultimately impressed with the story and what the trilogy might have in store.

Summary of the Story:

Deep space gun smuggling between two hostile nations is unacceptable. Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes and the other crew of the fast attack craft Rapier are on a mission to smoke out the leader of this gun smuggling operation and stop the terrorists getting their weapons. Upon arrival on their planet, Katja makes some
difficult on-the-spot decisions that end up initiating a wide scale war. Upon returning home, events escalate all around them and the politics/bureaucratic pressure threatens to ruin them. Sublieutenant Jack Mallory is a young up and coming pilot, he manages to make a few discoveries that may change the tide of this interplanetary war.

The Virtues Of War is an action packed, detailed and science filled jaunt through deep space and beyond. Can the squad keep the peace, save their own and keep earth from certain oblivion? Does everyone's self interests and politics come before the welfare of nations? Come to the front line of one of the most extraordinary wars set in the distant future and experience it for yourself.


Plot: I was dumbfounded when I eventually realised the scale of this story. BRC has a lot to say here and I was, by the end, impressed with the first instalment of his military space epic. In terms of overall plot, TVOW is pretty weak, there seems to be less of an outlined arcing story and more of a stumbling development of events. What I mean by this is that though the EF (expeditionary force) are out to end the gun smuggling operation, once that element of the story comes into play, everything after seems like a tumbling decline instead of a play by play story. I was very glad to have stuck with it as by the last 100 pages, I felt that this story blossomed into something awesome. Once the characters were established and started complimenting/aggravating each other and the science behind the story became clearer, the plot came into its own. Despite the lack of clear motives for some of the events, the reader is treated to a plot filled with great science, interesting military tactics and great set pieces.

Writing Style: BRC went for a more science/military heavy tone to the first instalment of this trilogy. There is dense and technical language for both physics and Navy style military procedure. I found it difficult to appreciate this type of writing and language for the first half of this book. In the second act though, I felt that as BRC had got into a decent rhythm with his characters and the events surround them so the language eased up and became more informal and relaxed. This allowed me to understand events clearer and focus on story easier. Also, BRC added a glossary at the beginning to assist in the reader's understanding of the tough parts of the text/dialogue.

Setting: The reader is cast into deep space in TVOW. There are many different locations due to the large quantity of both planets and ships. Luckily the story is mostly set on several different space ships so it is not overly confusing. The space settings in this story are very impressive and add tone to events, but don't outright define them. I felt this was more of a character driven story, the setting seemed to just amaze and excite the science fiction nerd that is myself. Big planets. complex space ships and hostile planets. Everything you could want in a space war book. I loved the anti-gravity aspect, it brought a little additional feeling of amusement.

Characters: Wow...where to begin. A lot of these characters are intense, morally ambiguous, self righteous, unbearable and just down right evil. There are no wholly good or evil people in this book. Every character has both a pleasant/upstanding side and a backstabbing, nasty side. with 2 exceptions...Breeze is all evil (not really a spoiler) and Jack is all good, doing the right thing and serving others over himself. The two characters in the 50/50 zone are Katja and Thomas. Both act honourably and also manage to be disgusting human beings at times as well. I do feel that even though these characters are unbearable at times, they are a bunch of solid, well written characters that make this story worth reading. 

Themes: One main theme that appears in this book is the difference between living the war and examining it from a distance. Katja is down in the trenches and living the horror every second and all her bosses are miles away judging her for her every action. Another potent theme is moral ambiguity, a lot of the characters push the boundaries of acceptable behaviour to either feed their ego or progress their career. In reality this book does not really have much emotional depth, it is more cold, calculated and brutal.

Likes: Big set pieces. Decent character development. Anti-gravity fun. Potential of the trilogy. Good & Evil.

Cover Art: Nothing special, does the job of letting the reader know that this will be a epic/hardcore military/space experience. 5/10

Dislikes: Nasty people at times. Length of the book. Choppy plot structure.

Rating: Overall, this book serves it purpose as a big, bold military/space experience. There is not much depth in terms of humanity or emotions, but there are badass space battles, big, exciting set pieces and plenty of action and science to enjoy here.


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