Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Warrior: En Garde

Warrior: En Garde by Michael A. Stackpole, 1988, FASA Corporation

Recently I have been on a strong Battletech kick, and I decided to re-read the novels from my favorite moment in Battletech history, the 4th Succession War. I am an old-school Federated Suns partisan, and reading about Maximillian Liao getting his butt handed to him by Hanse Davion just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

For those of you who aren't Battletech fans and don't know what I am talking about, this novel is the first in the trilogy that details the events leading up to, the fighting during, and the aftermath of, the Fourth Succession War. The old Star League broke up 250 years ago, and humans have been fighting for dominance of known space ever since. The events in this novel all take place prior to the war breaking out. There are thre main focuses to the book, though two of the three have converged by the end. First, we have the Kell Hounds, a mercenary unit currently serving the Lyran Commonwealth. They have made enemies of the Draconis Combine, who makes an attack against the unit. Second, we have Justin Xiang Allard, from the Federated Suns, who is unjustly framed by racists (he's half Chinese) and drummed out of the Federated Suns. He goes to fight on the world of Solaris VII, where battlemechs are used in gladiatorial-style duels. Thirdly, we have Melissa Steiner, daughter of the ruler of the Lyran Commonwealth, who is travelling incognito to the Federated Suns to secretly meet with her fiance. Unfortunately, seemingly everyone knows who she really is and an attempt is made to capture her.

Yes, a lot happens here, and because this is just the first book, the Justin Xiang Allard plot thread doesn't get wrapped up. In fact, it hits a juicy plot twist on the last page of the book, setting up the next book quite nicely. This is some early work by Stackpole, but it still has his touch, and I very much enjoyed my re-read of this book. Non-Battletech fans might find the background confusing at first, but this is good military sci-fi with the focus on the people, not the sci-fi, so it is pretty accessible to anybody, more so than some other Battletech novels.

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