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Posts Tagged ‘William Dietz’

A Review of The Final Battle

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 22, 2013

The Final Battle (Legion, #2)The Final Battle by William C. Dietz

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….

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A Review of Legion of the Damned

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 7, 2013

Legion of the Damned (Legion, #1)Legion of the Damned by William C. Dietz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Legion of the Damned is military sci fi at possibly its best…. It’s not a perfect book, by any stretch of the imagination, but it was a page turner for me and one I wanted to finish because it kept my interest. The writing was crisp, the characters were largely interesting, the plot was somewhat decent (with one major exception), and I really enjoyed this book.

At some point in the future, humanity has spread out among the stars to form an empire which is threatened by the xenophobic Hudathans, who appear on the scene and start demolishing everything in their way. I particularly liked the descriptions of the Hudathans. I thought showing us believable aliens was handled well. There’s another alien presence too — the Naa, many of whom are at war with the empire’s Imperial Legion on the planet Algeron. The Legion is descended from the French Foreign Legion and is made up of volunteers and conscripts who have died, usually by execution — it’s an eye for an eye type of empire — and whose consciousness is somehow downloaded into a lean, mean fighting machine, a cyborg, big and capable of much damage. There’s an even bigger type of cyborg called a quad, which is like a tank. Conscripts are obtained the same way. Unfortunately, like semi-real life, there’s competition between the navy, the Marines, and the Legion. The naval commander wants the Legion gone and will go to any length to see this happen. Why? It’s never satisfactorily explained, and I found that annoying.

Anyway, a female human colonel is captured by the Hudathans on the first world they attack and she is forced to advise them on what she thinks the humans will do in reaction to the attacks. Meanwhile, the naval commander wants to withdraw all forces to an inner defensive circle, thus abandoning the outer worlds and the millions on them to the Hudathans. The Legion wants none of that, wants to fight immediately to save humanity. Scolari, the naval commander and overall military leader, convinces the emperor, who’s a crazy idiot, that the Legion is treasonous and — this is the big plot failure, for me — with the threat of the Hudathans bearing down on humanity, she gets the emperor’s permission to imprison all Legionnaires on earth and go attack the Legion on Algeron to put down their “uprising.” Now, if you’re in a war for your very existence, why would you attack your own? You need to overlook military competitions and work together to overcome the invaders. Doesn’t that make sense? It does to me. But the navy and Marines choose to attack the Legion, which has shipped most of their force to the outer worlds to defend against the Hudathans. The defense of Algeron is pretty cool though, I’ve got to say. Good reading.

There’s a Legion sub-plot or two. One involving Booly, a Legionnaire who falls in love with a female Naa after he’s been captured in a fight. Another involving a Cyborg called Villain, who is on the lookout for the asshole who killed her — he’s now a cyborg too, having gotten the death penalty.

Some of the plots and sub-plots are somewhat unbelievable though. For instance, people just fall in love at the drop of a hat, Booly with the female Naa, a Legionnaire general with a new widow, who falls in love with him back. Etc. Also the sex scenes are fairly gratuitous and poorly written. Too many too, and I never thought I’d say that. Additionally, the Cabal that arises to oppose the emperor seems pretty idealistic in its presentation. And on and on. Like I said, the book’s not perfect.

However, the fighting scenes are rather good and compelling, and the interaction between human and alien is also well told. I felt like some of these characters were definitely three dimensional, while unfortunately, some were not. Still, this is the first book in a nine book series and I liked it enough to want to read more, so I bought four more books in the series at a used bookstore and now I’m stocked up with Dietz novels, so I feel good. I have to say, I’m picky about my sci fi. I don’t like many of the “masters,” such as Anderson and Niven. I love Philip K. Dick and Frederik Pohl, but have a hard time finding other sci fi writers I enjoy. This was the second Dietz novel I’ve read recently, and I’ve enjoyed both, so I feel like I’ve lucked onto something here. And by the way, this book isn’t only for military sci fi fans. I think anyone might like it. Certainly recommended.

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