Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cry Havoc book review

What other incentive do you need to buy this?

Have you ever watched or read something that was so good you almost ended up not liking it? That's what I began to feel about this book. I bought it on impulse because of the cover. And seriously, take a look at that thing. If that doesn't at least make you pause while scrolling on Amazon, you have something fundamentally wrong with you.

Surprisingly it doesn't focus on the robo-theropod. But don't let that get you down! This is a military type story, much of it centering around a four-man squad of cadets training to be janissaries in Terran Empire. I have to give the author credit. Almost everyone goes for space marines. While awesome, it's also been overused. Instead we get a future incarnation of the elite soldiers of the Turkish empire, the janissaries who conquered incalculable foes beneath their feet. Nice to see them getting some attention!

This honestly reminded me of when I was reading Halo: The Fall of Reach and Starship Troopers. A lot of the book taking place around the training and core characters, and it works beautifully. Our main characters are Jane, a shy demure girl who just wants to be unseen, Salem, a flashy young woman who loves to be the center of attention, Sand, a spunky and good-natured guy, and Paris, a rillik, a partially reptilian fella who suffers from a lot of stigma due to his condition.

I can't do them sufficient justice here, but the author does a magnificent job of showing them grow over the course of the book. Classic squad building stuff with their direct overseer, Sergeant Black, an assault janissary who has seen more battle than all of Europe.

We also get to see a slew of different aliens, cross-breeds and cultures intermixing here including the Bhae Chaw, a bear like race that make ideal medics, Illurians, the primary villains who have made quite a few enemies in building their empire, Khajali, a saurian warrior-race that are like living tanks, and a few others. We also learn about a strange mysterious former Terran organization called the FOSsils, psychic warriors who were nigh-unmatched in their deadly capabilities.
I have trouble remembering most of the history involving humans, the FOSsils and Illurians, but I don't blame the author at all. This is entirely my fault. Sometimes I just plain don't understand why something is important, and with the information scattered around to avoid info-dumps, I get lost and confused. The rest of you shouldn't have any problem though if you're not as ADD as I am.

And the dinos! Okay, two in particular do play a good part here. And my gosh is it glorious when they trundle into battle. But how did they come to be? This I did remember. The Illurians came to Earth, and found the fossils of the ancient saurians, and decided they would make fantastic living weapons. They extracted their essence, improved their genetic code, made them smarter, then bred them while giving them amazing mechanical enhancements to aid them in battle. And wow do they stand out.

This book doesn't have quite as much action as you might think, but that isn't even a problem. Here's the part where I almost disliked this book. I'm reading a part where Jane is dealing with anxiety over this fellow cadet she likes and is panicking around Salem, who is acting all coy. As they bantered I found myself extremely amused and endeared to these two. And that's when it hit me: I came into this book expecting balls to the wall action, and I'm reading about a junior-military enlistee romance. But I was totally buying it and enjoying it! It made me care! 

That's just plain not fair. That's frigging cheating book! That's cheating! It's almost too good. I'm a salty curmudgeon when it comes to most romance stories, and yet in this action book I found myself completely invested, actively rooting for Jane and was actually enjoying the girl talk. I'm not making this up. If an author can manage that with me, then he's doing something seriously right.

Don't be fooled, because when the action does come it's good. It's not Monster Hunter International good, but it's sensible and does darned well. I must call out one particular part though. Without spoiling anything, the cadets are in a really pitched fight and totally outclassed, but something strange happens that helps even the odds. The wording in which the author describes this was almost magical. It was an exhilarating bit that seemed to make the words glow. And the buildup for this stuff is done with wonderful finesse. If you want to hint at something, this is how you do it.

Oh, and the weapons! This is kind of a spoiler, but I don't give a crap. Jack Hanson here creates one of the most imaginative and awesome weapons I've ever heard of in any piece of fiction: The dream blade! It at first looks like a normal stumpy sword, but becomes sheathed in crackling energy that the wielder can then shape and mold with their minds and fight in completely unconventional styles. One user turns the flickering blade into a frigging snake that begins leaping out and striking at his opponent! Do I really need to say anything more than that? Do I?

Dang it book, you got me hooked! The world building is great, characters and character dynamic is fantastic, I love the weapons, and the plot actually makes great sense and took me by surprise. This is the definition of epic. And the sequel is coming up. This has the intellectual backing to be a frigging awesome franchise. This has my seal of approval as being a top tier read.

You can buy right here:


  1. Austen,

    Thank you for the review. I appreciate the kind words and I'm glad you're not holding a grudge for tricking you into a bit of a romance novel.

    Forlorn Hope is live. I hope you enjoy it as well as you did Cry Havoc.

    1. You're very welcome, it was a pleasure to read! And you can be sure I'll take a look at Forlorn Hope when I get the chance. :)

      Hope to review that soon too! Take care and keep cranking out the awesome work!

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