Top critical review
Pretty torn on this one
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2021
This is a difficult review to write because, for as much as this book gets wrong, it gets so much right, too.
TL;DR: Good for those who like action scenes without all the trappings of interesting characters or deep storytelling.
First off, the technical skill of the writer is excellent. He has a great command of the English language and writes interesting and varied sentences. He also very well understands the world of the special warfare operator and that comes out in big ways in this book (as in the previous ones). It's a worthy read just for that: you get a good glimpse into the enigmatic life of the operative. The writing also has plenty of good humor and one or two heartfelt moments that shadow what I would imagine are the author's own experience as a special warfare operator.
The book follows a familiar formula: the main protagonist gets into scrapes that he somehow manages to get himself and his (team, family, friends, etc) out of. The book really doesn't know which story to focus on in this regard. Like the others, it is really several short stories wrapped into one book. The problem is that each of these short stories could be books themselves, were it not for the utter infallibility of the main protagonist.
Kel turner is way too perfect. He is the best at everything, everybody loves him, is impressed by him, and wants only to elevate him. His enemies are all despicable, stupid, or just plain fodder for his greatness. The few times he makes mistakes they are completely inconsequential and immediately rectified. He is feared, adored, and pristine.
The book rushes parts that should be explored and seriously plods along at parts that should be rushed through. The author spends a great deal of telling selling you on Kel's post military dream only to unceremoniously take it from him. His "family" totally loved and adored him until they suddenly stopped and moved on. I get that the author was trying to set up Kel to be the tragic hero that gives up happiness for the cause, but the ay ti was handled was both too verbose and too brief at the same time.
The final part of the book is where it finally gets interesting. It would have been great of the first 2/3 of the book were abbreviated and this story made to last but alas, we only get a brief look at the only story in this book worth telling at length.
This book is a love letter to special forces and the military. It shares the awesome parts of comradery and brotherhood but leaves out much of the difficulties of these relationships. It feels more romanticized than realistic. That is fine enough, this is military fiction after all, but combined with the "golden boy" main character is just feels uninteresting.
If you like military scifi that doesn't go that deep and offers little in the way of interpersonal conflict while giving good action scenes, this book will suit you well. If you want broader storytelling with deep and interesting characters, I would pass on this one.