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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Audible Book Review: StarFire: Vince Lombard, Book 1 by Mike Lee

This is a wonderfully engaging scifi with great strategy in military and legal elements.
StarFire: Vince Lombard, Book 1
Written by: Mike Lee
Narrated by: Jason Brenizer
Length: 10 hrs and 10 mins
Series: Vince Lombard, Book 1
Unabridged Audiobook
Release Date:08-13-14
Publisher: Michael L. Trimble
Genre: Sci-Fi Contemporary
My Rating: 4.75 of 5.0

Publisher's Summary
Captain Vince Lombard, G-Marine company commander, is tasked with tracking down a stray ship. The Alliance Military Ship StarFire has gone silent, and previous attempts to locate her have resulted in the loss of more ships. After two previous wars with xenospecies humanity bumped into while expanding into space, no one knows what might be the cause of StarFire's missing in action status. And internal politics between Fleet command and the Galactic Marine Corps might mean that, unless something is done, humanity may get the news it's at war with yet another new race about the time they show up to attack one of the human systems in the sector.
A prequel to the book Fey, this story is a novelization of the story Vince related to Blondie in the previous book, which many readers requested. I'm happy to accommodate my readers by providing this novel-length version of that story.
©2012 Mike Lee (P)2014 Mike Lee

Captain Vince Lombard is a highly successful GI Marine commander who respects his men and demands respect. He carefully thinks ahead, and, when need be, thinks outside of the box. That may include bending, if not breaking, a few regulations when the situation demands it - as in saving his men. Vince accepts responsibility for his decisions, sharing the praise with his team but claiming the guilt for himself.

Vince is directed by his superior to locate a missing Naval asset, the Alliance Military Ship StarFire. The StarFire is the biggest ship ever built, with the ability to hold at least a thousand of the best trained Naval troops. The StarFire headed out into space but unexpectedly went silent. Two Naval sloops sent to investigate have gone silent too.

Vince’s commanding officer has one chance to get information on the situation before Naval forces arrive to take control. He trusts Vince to handle the mission: locate the StarFire, determine its status and get a report back. Did the StarFire and the sloops hit an area where communication is blocked or has something worse occurred? Has the ship been overtaken by alien forces who might use the huge weapon against mankind?

Vince knows he won’t have a chance fighting the StarFire so he prepares for the next best thing - speed to run if necessary. He chooses one transport/lander that will carry his well seasoned Master Sergeant, Alvin, with a platoon of 50 men. His commander insists he take at least three ships so he adds two long range fighters, known for distance and speed, with volunteer pilots rumored to be the sharpest. He adds one tech geek, Duggard, hoping the creative computer guy can help disguise the common communication system if needed.

What Vince’s crew find is a puzzle and a situation that they are lucky to survive with minimal, though painful, losses. In spite of a mostly successful mission, Vince now has to undergo a Fleet inquiry to determine if he will face a court-martial.

The writing is sharp and well paced with good story telling and showing. I enjoyed the author’s creative use of fluctuating time settings: Prior to Action; After Action, Action, Inquiry and After Inquiry. Exciting action unfolds as Vince remembers and gives his verbal statement to an investigative officer in preparation of the formal hearing. I loved all aspects of the story. The primary characters are well developed and likable. Vince’s revelations put me right there in the action from tactical strategizing to battle execution with the difficulties related to outer space. I also enjoyed the legal process and Vince’s skillful and psychological handling of the investigator, ‘prosecuting’ attorney and panel.

This was a great story and I highly recommend it to those who love action plus battle strategy in a combat setting and in a court setting! Readers with military and/or legal background or interest should enjoy this. Another big plus is that the book is clear of foul language - Thank you, Mr. Lee! I am very anxious to get book 2, Fey, which was actually written first. I will have to get it on Kindle as it, unfortunately, isn’t available at Audible.

Audio Notes: Jason Brenizer does a good job with narration although, while listening I thought the narration was little dry and there could have been a bit more excitement. However, after re-listening to parts as I prepared this review, I have decided that the narration fit perfectly with Vince’s (mostly) calm and level demeanor. This is a story I could imagine myself listening to again which is rare for me! I recommend the audio as a totally engaging listen.

This title was from my own Audible library; selected 8/30/14. This qualifies for 2015 Audio Challenge and TBR list.

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