This has to be one of the more annoying and depressingly unfulfilling sci fi mercenary books I’ve recently read. And it had so much promise!
Mag Force 7 is a mercenary outfit headed by Xris Cyborg, a cyborg (original, eh?), and manned by a truly interesting cast of characters ranging from hackers to poisoners to telepaths to explosives experts to medical experts to muscle and pilots and everything in between. Ex-military and everything else. This is the second book in a trilogy and I didn’t read the first, but I don’t think you have to have read the first in order to get into this one. In this book, Xris is approached by a mysterious museum curator about finding and stealing a seriously old working antique robot for a large sum of money and thinking it’ll be an easy job, he agrees. Again, thinking it’ll be easy, he sends all but one of the team off on vacation, and takes a colleague to the planet where the robot is to get it and bring it to the professor. Sounds simple, right? But, oh no, it’s a damned mess! First, the robot is much more important and complex than let on. And of those who know about it, it’s considered critically important and completely invaluable. Second, thugs from the first book, the Hung, are out to assassinate a colleague who ratted them out and underwent a sex change operation in order to obtain a new identity and escape them. It hasn’t worked. Then, there’s the matter of the military finding out about Xris and his buddy’s secret integration into the military, unofficially, and how that is handled, and then there is a triple agent, which makes things awfully complicated. Moreover, there are flesh eating aliens, attempting to get the robot, in order to attack humanity and wipe it out.
This book could have been decent. Not great, perhaps not even good, but decent. BUT, two things. First, the overly complicated plot, made so by the triple agent, is incredibly confusing and therefore annoying. You ultimately don’t know what to believe until perhaps the final chapter and even then, perhaps not then too. More importantly, and this is what knocked the book down from a maximum of four stars to two stars, there’s a mercenary character named Raoul who is one of the most over the top, unbelievably annoying characters of any book I’ve ever read and I wanted to kill him. I wanted him to die early. I almost stopped reading this book on at least three occasions because of him, but somehow continued to the end. Raoul is an Adonian, a race genetically groomed to be vapid and beautiful. No one works on their planet, except for servants they import. Everyone is wealthy. The only things anyone cares about is fashion, makeup, hair styles, wild orgies, parties, cocktails, pleasure of all types, avoiding ugliness in any form, and so on. And Raoul is a bisexual, transsexual, transvestite who is an expert poisoner (thus, the mercenary) and who cares only about his dresses, shoes, handbags, hair styles, food, drinks, scarves, lipstick, eyeliner, and so on. And he goes on and on and on about this shit while people are getting shot at and while friends are trying to avoid being killed. It’s unbelievably stupid. I assume it’s, what, comic relief? He’s there to provide humor to the plot, but after the first 75 instances of this, you want him to swallow his own poison, or have someone blow his damn head off for talking too damn much about his frigging lipstick, like anyone gives a shit!!! And he’s got this alien companion — The Little One. He doesn’t even have a frigging name! He’s a midget who wears a trench coat and fedora because he’s so hideously ugly that people would get sick and throw up if they even saw his face, which incidentally looks like a head that’s been hit by a train — pure ground meat and brains. And he’s a telepath and while Raoul is not, they communicate without talking because The Little One can’t talk, can only gesture and constantly is throwing temper tantrums because no one except Raoul can understand him. Frankly, I wanted to kill him too. What a pair they made. A poisonous bi transvestite and an alien midget telepath. Great. And just for laughs. Not funny. They didn’t even help out in the action, when there was action! They were pretty much just in the way. Raoul prepared suicide cocktails when things looked grim. Gee, thanks. Glad we pay you the big bucks, huh? Even Xris, the main protagonist and assumed book stud was kind of a stupid dumbshit, constantly getting things wrong, constantly underestimating his opponents, constantly wrong about just about everything he got involved with. I mean with a mercenary team like that, well, I’d hate to think of entrusting someone’s life to them. For one thing, they got the robot and then let it escape. Got it back, got captured, let it get away again, took a fatal casualty in a gunfight. Just how good are they? My estimation is not very good. So why write a book, let alone a series, about them? If you’re the author, why not write a better book about a more successful group? I just don’t understand. This book could and should have been much better. Some of the characters were pretty interesting. The plot had potential. I guess the authors weren’t good enough to pull it off. Pity. Not recommended.