My rating: 3 of 5 stars
William Dietz’s The Final Battle is a sequel to The Legion of the Damned, and at first glance, it’s not too bad. However, while I generally enjoyed the book, the more I think about it, the more nit picky I get. There are simply too many “issues” to ignore in the writing of this book.
First of all, the book picks up 20 years after the climax of the first book, the victory at the battle of Algeron by the humans led by the Legion (patterned after the French Foreign Legion, but staffed by dead people brought back to life as cyborg killing machines) over the alien Hudathans, who had invaded the human worlds with the intent on the destruction of the human race. We meet William Booly Jr, son of Legion deserter Booly from the first book and his Naa wife. Booly Jr is in the Legion now. We are reintroduced to Hudathan War Leader Poseen-Ka, a prisoner on Worber’s World, along with his remaining army. He’s about to be rescued and rearmed for another war with humanity. Overseeing Worber’s World is General Natalie Norwood, a great character from the first novel. And this is where my first problem begins.
I never thought I’d say this, but there’s too much gratuitous sex in this book. Yeah, you heard me. It was disappointing to discover early in the book Natalie masturbating to the scene of Hudathans on Worber’s World suffering. That was just kind of sick and unnecessary. General Marianne Mosby is a certified sex fiend, and finds a way to seduce the leader of the Hegemony, a human-like race of clones living on three planets. The Hegemony takes up a lot of the first half of the book, as many of the clones want nothing to do with humanity and some are ready to take up with the Hudathans to defeat the humans. There’s even an assassination attempt on the leader of the Confederacy of Sentient Beings, what the former empire is now called. Another complaint. Dietz must have gotten bored with the Hegemony, because it’s dropped permanently halfway through the novel, which is confusing considering how much of a role it played in the first half. What happened? Very odd.
Since the Hudathans were beaten by the Legion’s cyborgs, they decide that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so they murder their best academy graduates and transform them into cyborg killing machines to go head to head with the Legion. After Poseen-Ka (who’s a great villain) is rescued and put back in charge of the new Hudathan fleet, he starts obliterating Confederacy planets once more and the Confederacy finds out about the new cyborgs — so they start upgrading theirs, producing Trooper III cyborgs, which have external units to accompany the primary cyborg. It’s an interesting concept and one left largely unwritten about in the book, another complaint I have. In fact, much of the book is about politics and logistics, and little is about actual FIGHTING (unlike the first book), so it’s hard to even call this a straight military sci fi novel. Another disappointment. I would have liked to see cyborg against cyborg more than in the final few pages of the novel, which are somewhat anticlimactic.
Many of the characters we know and meet are killed in this book, including Norwood, so it’s hard to become attached to many of the characters. They die. The Hudathans are eager to avenge their loss at Algeron, so that’s where their primary attack takes place. And the Legion is ready, thanks to a spy. Still, there are thousands of Hudathan ships, outnumbering the Confederacy ships, and it’s not until a secret “weapon” (which is totally foreseeable) is used that the Legion takes control of the battle and wins the second war, thus ending the book.
There are some slow times in the book and times when I wondered why passages were included, including a scene when Booly plays a Legion academy prank. It just doesn’t seem important to the book. Maybe that’s just me though. Booly is hooked up with a female Legionnaire toward the end of the book, thus setting up the author for another book in this series (which has at least nine books in it; I have three more to read). It seems a little too convenient. A little too contrived. But then, I guess the author has to make his money selling a series, doesn’t he?
Don’t get me wrong. It’s an above average book, and at times, fairly enjoyable. It just could have been so much more, I think, and that’s why I’m disappointed. So, three stars and a cautious recommendation….