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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Audible Book Review: Steel World: Undying Mercenaries, Book 1 by B. V. Larson

This is an engaging, action packed sci fi and a fun listen!
Steel World: Undying Mercenaries, Book 1
Written by: B. V. Larson
Narrated by: Mark Boyett

Length: 11 hrs and 45 mins
Series: Undying Mercenaries, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:12-03-13
Publisher: Audible Studios
Genre: Sci Fi, Military
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
In the 20th century Earth sent probes, transmissions, and welcoming messages to the stars. Unfortunately, someone noticed. The Galactics arrived with their battle fleet in 2052. Rather than being exterminated under a barrage of hell-burners, Earth joined their vast Empire. Swearing allegiance to our distant alien overlords wasn't the only requirement for survival. We also had to have something of value to trade, something that neighboring planets would pay their hard-earned credits to buy. As most of the local worlds were too civilized to have a proper army, the only valuable service Earth could provide came in the form of soldiers…someone had to do their dirty work for them, their fighting and dying.
I, James McGill, was born in 2099 on the fringe of the galaxy. When Hegemony Financial denied my loan applications, I was kicked out of the university and I turned to the stars. My first campaign involved the invasion of a mineral-rich planet called Cancri-9, better known as Steel World. The attack didn't go well, and now Earth has entered a grim struggle for survival. Humanity's mercenary legions go to war in Steel World, best-selling author B. V. Larson's latest science fiction novel.
©2013 B. V. Larson (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

James McGill, born in 2099, spent his growing years playing virtual reality games instead of concentrating on legitimate studies. When he loses his college loans he turns to the military as no other jobs are available. McGill has reasonable skills and thinks fast on his feet. In spite of the fact that he is able to think through several of the tests he is rejected by the first floor of recruiters due to his “attitude”. The doorman sends him to the basement where he is accepted by the Varus unit. This is a unit that is continually underseige and known to have been completely wiped out on more than one occassion. But what choice does he have?

McGill signs on as a”splat”, the name given the newest recruits who are considered expendable. Although it is expected they will all die, McGill manages to evade death time and time again.

In this future world each planet has come under the thumb of the Galatics. The only way a planet can survive is to trade its resources. The only resource that Earth brings to the market are the protection and fighting skills of its mercenary forces. Now those skills are being challenged by another planet who claims its mercenary units are better skilled. The Varus unit has been sent into Steel World to face the enemy and to determine if Earth can hold enough contracts to keep the planet in the trade system.

McGill and the other raw recruits are thrown into the battle with little training. They have some excellent commanders but also a few leaders who are obsessive “by-the-rules’ types. The battle leaders appreciate McGill’s ability to think outside of the box and to improvise but those skills make him a target for discipline and elimination by the rule-followers.

This is an engaging sci fi story with strange alien beings and good plot twists. There is a cast of rough characters, male and female, heros and villains. There’s a little bit of romance, a little bit of, sometimes macabre, humor, and lots of action. The first person story-telling by McGill keeps the story active and real from the perspective of an often irreverent twenty-two year old. Fortunately the author did not include excessive foul language.

The characters have good development and the bizarre conflict is sufficiently explained. There are some interesting observations on life and death but for the most part this is just fun, engaging entertainment. This is the first book I have ‘read’ by this author but it will not be the last. I have already picked up book two to listen to after some review audios are completed.

Audio Notes: Mark Boyett does a wonderful job of narration. He is able to portray the personalities of the various characters through their voices and attitudes. He also delivers the story with steady pacing and energy. I recommend this as a fun, fast listen.

This title is from my own Audible library.

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