Wednesday, December 29, 2010

March Upcountry

By David Weber and John Ringo

Due to sabotage, young Prince Roger and a battalion of Marines find themselves stranded in the back country on a primitive planet with only one space port. Now they are faced with a hike across a continent then a voyage across sea and a final push to the port, which is in the hands of unfriendlies. Add in the steamy jungle environment teeming with large, voracious predators and frequently hostile natives, and they are not looking at a walk in the park. But Marines are Marines, and it's their job to get Prince Roger back to safety, even if they have to wade through an ocean of gore to do so. But the Marines are pleasantly surprised to discover that Prince Roger, spoiled son of the Empress, is not quite the helpless boob they may have thought. Inexperienced he may be, but he is lacking in neither skill nor heart. Together, Marines and Prince will take on a whole planet, and God help any who get in the way.

This is the first in the Empire of Man series. It is a science fiction adventure and a military adventure story combined. Prince Roger and his crew get to have lots of exciting adventures, make new friends and new enemies and fight lots of battles. In this story, the Prince and company are only just beginning their adventures and by the end of the story, they have not even set out on their sea voyage to the space port.
When I first started reading this book, it became pretty clear that it was a military genre book, with its elaborate descriptions of military hardware and I almost stopped reading it because of that. But I kept with it and, when the Prince met his first native of the planet he and his people were stranded on, it became much more enjoyable. The "scummies" as they are called because they are naturally coated in mucus being amphibian-type beings, are captivating. They are amusing and charming and also evil and treacherous and fascinating. Prince Roger makes friends with them right away when he saves the life of a shaman of a barbarian tribe and soon they gain allies among the locals in their trek cross-country. True, there are a lot of battles and skirmishes in the story and a lot of the military strategy just read like so much gobbledy-gook to me and frankly, I just skimmed through most of that stuff. But the book contains enough adventure and alien stuff to make wading through the military sections worth while. I enjoyed the story and I especially liked the scummies. I do wish there had been more in the story about Dogzard, the friendly little reptile that Prince Roger adopts as a pet. I liked Dogzard a lot and I would have enjoyed reading a lot more about him.

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