Saturday, December 28, 2013

Review of The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield

Author:  Jack Campbell.
Title:  The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield.
Publisher:  Ace.
Copyright Date:  2013.
Pages:  406.
Price:  $26.95 (Hardback).

The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield is the second book in Jack Campbell's third series.  The first two series set the stage for the third installation.  As the result of a galactic wide war, the Syndicate Worlds are falling apart.  There is a successful rebellion in the Midway system.  The newly liberated worlds surrounding Midway are the background for the novel.

The story centers on several main characters, namely Midway's President and her main general.  There are assassination attempts by the Syndicate internal security agents (or snakes), fleet actions, and rescue of prisoners of war.  The pacing is good and the story is easy to follow.  Jack Campbell was recommended to me by a writer friend who also is a librarian.  His writing style reminds me a late of David Drake's Hammer's Slammers with a naval twist.  Campbell is a retired naval officer who writes hard military science-fiction/space opera.

Being new to his universe, I got thrown into it with the second The Lost Stars book.  He developed characters from his previous novels to populate this world.  That's fine.  It just took me a while to get my bearings as far as characters go.  Alliance Admiral Jack "Black Jack" Geary is still an essential character in this novel.  There are also many subplots and turns that move the story along.  It's clear from the ending of the book, it's meant to be a long series.  Campbell has captured his target audience for Ace Publishing's cash cow (similar to David Webber's Honor Harrington universe).

I was looking for some of Campbell's writing earlier this year.  I just didn't come along to until I found a hardback copy of The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield for 30% off retail at Barnes and Noble in late October 2013.  I then started reading this book at the beginning of December 2013.  Due a series of family emergencies, I didn't get to finish reading it until this morning.

Recommend for readers who enjoy David Drake type military science fiction.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Rummage Sale Rules from Warbeads

Warbeads emailed me last week about a bunch of wargaming rules he had for sale.  I bought three of them.  He got me them today.

They are in no particular order:  Star Grunt II from Ground Zero Games.  They Died for Glory by Dave Waxtel and Robert Burke.  And Yellow Ribbon by Greg Novak.

I played Star Grunt several times back in the 1990s.  I remember some of it.  I know it's scenario driven.  The game hadn't been played and all the chits are still unpunched.  I wanted something else in case GW goes bankrupt next year and people are no longer playing WH40K.  I doubt that will happen.  But with the current turmoil at Citadel, who knows?  If I ever get around to playing Star Grunt II again, great.  If not, I have the rules.

I'd gotten rid of my last copy of They Died for Glory:  The Franco-Prussian, 1870-1871.  I then found out the rules are no longer available from the publisher.  I thought I'd get Glenn's copy when he put it up for sale.  The good thing about it is the detailed scenarios you can use for other FPW systems.  I plan on using some of them for Chassepot & Needlegun (if I ever get around to painting all my figures).

The last rule set is Yellow Ribbon:  Rules for Indian Wars 1850-1890.  I've heard of them before.  Will I ever play them?  Doubtful.  I'd have to collect US army and Native Americans both mounted and dismounted if I was ever going to play a game.  Maybe one day, when I win the lottery...

Out of all these purchases, Star Grunt II is the most useful.  Yellow Ribbon is the least.  But I have all three for future reference if I get side tracked on other projects....

Happy Holidays,

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Late in Posting...

My apologies for not posting in awhile.  I've had family emergencies to deal with this past week.  They are now resolved (mostly).  Unfortunately, most of my free time has been spent in hospital waiting rooms.  I did get some reading done.  I started a book called The Lost Stars:  Perilous Shield by Jack Campbell.  It's a brand new military sci-fi book published this year.  I'll try finishing it this weekend and then posting a review.

Otherwise, I'll also do some painting on a 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade that needs more work.  This project will never end.  I'd like to have it done by February 2014 at the latest.

However, I've been buying presents for myself.

I've bought the following books:  Gone Native:  An NCO's Story by Alan Cornet and The Element of Surprise:  Navy Seals in Vietnam by Darryl Young.  I'll eventually get around to reading them and writing reviews.  I also purchased Fangs of the Lone Wolf.  It's a new book out on the Russian-Chechen wars 1994-2009.

I also purchased a large Warmachine mercenaries army.  That will be another painting project for 2014.

Gaming hasn't happened recently because of what transpired.  The weather has also canceled most of my plans (including this weekend).  I hope to get some 40K games in next week with friends.

That's it for now...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review of Chronicles of the Black Company by Glen Cook

Author:  Glen Cook.
Title:  Chronicles of the Black Company.
Publisher:  Tor Publishing.
Pages:  704.
Copyright:  2007 (originally 1984, 1984. 1985)

Chronicles of the Black Company is a reissue of Glen Cook's first three books, The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose.  The story is told by Croaker, the chronicler of the Black Company.  They are a group of competent mercenaries hired by the godlike Lady to crush a rebellion against her authority.  After a group of hair raising adventures, the members of the Black Company come into possession of the infant White Rose, a female messiah who will eventually break the Lady's tyrannical reign. 

Along the way, the Lady falls in love with Croaker.  He has a hard time dealing with it.  I won't spoil anymore of the plot.  Needless to say, there are at least ten Black Company books.  You'll see lots more of Croaker, Lady, and One Eye, a crazy old wizard.

Give Chronicles of the Black Company a try.  It's different and the stories read fast.  I enjoyed them when I first read them back in the 1990s.  But the later books I found weren't as good as the first three novels.  Still, recommended.  Besides, Glen Cook is a local St. Louis writer.