Saturday, July 18, 2015

Master Sergeant

Mel Odom
Harper Voyager, 2015 (an ARC was gracefully provided by Harper for review)
Size: Average (my copy has 368 pages)
Theme: Military alien sci-fi
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Frank Sage
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

In this riveting story of military sci-fi we follow the deployment of Master Sergeant Frank Sage, an experienced war veteran, on the planet Makaum. Although he wished he was leaving the safety of the military training command facilities back on Terra in order to go to the expanding war front against the Phrenorians, he is commissioned to this planet in order to help bring the Makaum troops into line with Terran military standards. In Makaum, an uneasy truce is being managed between the Terran army, the Phrenorian empire, the (ta)Klar, and the Makaum natives who landed in that planet generations ago. The harsh environment and the extremely aggressive fauna and flora of the planet do not hamper the interests of different parties on its natural resources. However, Makaum might also not be that far from conflict as initially thought…

The novel is action-packed with jungle exploration, covert operations, and city pursuits. The plot also provides direct insights into the Phrenorians, namely one of their military leaders, which I found an interesting feature (although there is very little of it). There is a quite inventive array of technologies but they are easy to absorb. The same goes for some specific vocabulary introduced through the book. The plot is easy to follow, yet complex enough to keep the reader always on the edge and eager to turn the page. The main character is likable and well explored, and the other key characters work very well together.

I very much enjoyed the first installment of this series and am looking forward to reading the second book (Guerilla, which is scheduled to be launched on August 2015).

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

Sage manages to root out a lot of the drug smuggling operations going on in Makaum, to the point where he becomes a huge target for the corporations involved. In a clandestine operation, he manages to take down the secret base of Velesko Kos, whose toes he had been stepping throughout the story. Sage kills Kos and survives the confrontation, waking up in the hospital to find out that a Phrenorian base was found to be hidden in Makaum and that he still has a lot coming his way.

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