L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

06 December 2006 Blog Home : December 2006 : Permalink

Unto The Breach

John Ringo has occasionally been accused of being a hack author. I suspect this is partly due to jealousy/envy from those who don't have his success and partly due to his political viewpoint and the way he lets it all hang out. I disagree about this viewpoint completely and as evidence for the prosecution I present his latest book "Unto the Breach", a book which John Ringo himself considers to be his best ever:

Unto the Breach (Ghost IV) is out in December. [...] I'm hoping to do a media blitz on this one. Why? Because I think it's worth it. Unto the Breach is probably the best book I've ever written. Unlike most of the Ghost series, the sex is muted. But the threads of the series, high-action, ethnology, personal interaction and operatic drama all came together in a synergy that is just...awesome. I don't normally talk up my books, but UtB is not only the best thing I've ever written, it's the best book I've ever READ in the action-adventure millieu.

Unto the Breach is the fourth of his non-SF "Paladin of Shadows" series of action thrillers set in the present (more or less) and it follows on neatly from the last two (Kildar and Choosers of the Slain). In the last two the hero, Mike Harmon (aka Mike Jenkins aka Ghost aka the Kildar ... ) has settled down in remote Georgia - the country not the state - and, having bought the farm and its retiners, trained them into a decent militia and blooded them fighting against nearby Chechens and Albanian pimps and drug smugglers. The blooding will stand them in good stead in this book where they get to fight it out against enormous odds.

It seems that Al Qaeda and the Chechens are in the process of buying some truly deadly WMD from the Russian mafia who have extracted it from a secret Russian research lab. It seems that the exchange of a lot of money for the bioweapons is to take place inside the Pankisi Gorge, that part of Georgia which is adjacent to Chechnya and which is not really under the control of Tblisi (although in the books this lack of control is portrayed as rather worse than it appears to be in reality) and for a variety of reasons the only people who can be trusted to get into the gorge and stop the handover are Mike and his followers.

From that beginning comes a tale which truly kicks butt and takes no prisoners. As always facts, particularly as refers to geography and geopolitics, are treated harshly. Anyone planning on using this book or its predecessors as a travel guide will find that the author has made no attempt what so ever at geographical accuracy and other subjects from computers to air travel have been treated similar disdain - but while the details are frequently wrong, the overall sweep of the descriptions are solid. In fact I would say that, while about as politically incorrect as can be it (and its predecessors for that matter) tells the truth about attitudes and about the ways other culture think that go beyond anything you could ever read in a modern anthropology journal.

One thing that is very clear is that this book is not for people who think the UN is a good and holy place or for those who believe that negotiation is a worthwhile endeavour when it comes to Islamic fundamentalism. It would make, I think, one heck of a movie in the Hollywood action tradition but no Hollywood producer would take it on because it's politcal viewpoint is180° from that of Hollywood. But although I have no doubt some critics will call it a simplistic "Kill Raghead" book, it is far more than that. As with much of Ringo's other works it looks at concepts like honour and loyalty in a positive manner but it also very much explains why NATO etc. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq get such asymmetric kill ratios on the Taleban and other insurgents. One could almost call this book an instruction manual for the Islamists on what they need to do to win as well as wish fulfillment for the soldiers fighting them.

I wrote in my review of it's predecessor that that book

has lots of graphic, and sometimes disturbing, sex and violence, however despite a rather dark theme and gory action it also has moments of exquisite humor that break the tension as well as points of saccharine romance. All in all this is a book that makes for not only a gripping and highly enjoyable read but one which could, possibly, have some sort of worthwhile underlying message in it as well.

The same applies to this one only more so, there is sex, there is a lot of gory violence and there is very definitely tragic romance. Oh and there is one of the best descriptions of the sniper mentality ever, not to mention a magnificent sniper shot.

All in all its a great christmas present for the non-liberal in your life.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin