Alien Invasion Marines Military Science Fiction

Kingdom’s Swords – Good but not fantastic

Kingdom's SwordsKingdom’s Swords (Starfist, #7) by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
My rating: 7 out of 10 stars

The Marines were told it was a simple peasant rebellion–
but the mission proved to be far deadlier. . . .

Gunny Charlie Bass isn’t the only Marine mystified by the order sending the entire 34th to put down a few seditious serfs on planet Kingdom. Rumors swirl of a deadly alien invasion. But few believe that such sentient beings exist. Except Gunny Bass and the Marines of the 3rd platoon, who once fought enemy aliens called Skinks–fierce, fanatical fighters with hideous weapons who attack for no other reason but to kill.

Then, while slogging through Kingdom’s fetid swamps, the Marines are attacked by awesome unseen weapons that could destroy half a platoon with one shot. Clearly they are facing no normal enemy. And if their adversaries are Skinks, one FIST isn’t enough. Third platoon’s orders are to penetrate deeper into the bloody jungle hell–and find out what happens when a few good men bite the bullet. . . .

As usual David Sherman’s books in the Starfist series are solid books making for some good reading. The marine grunt theme of these books is not really my favorite subject but I have nevertheless found the Starfist series quite enjoyable. I like the way Sherman & Cragg writes and you cannot say anything else than that these books are fairly action-filled. This book in the series is no exception to that.

The official book blurb above actually only speaks of a part of the events in the book. Sure it is the main plot but a good chunk of the book is also spent on a separate chain of events resulting from the bitch scientist from the 5th book in the series filing complaints against Captain Conorado. Another sub-plot involves the kidnapping of Captain Conorado’s wife although this is more of a filler than anything else in my mind. Then there are some complications in the dear captain’s love life which spans the two sub plots.

I was afraid that the diversion from the main plot, were Captain Conorado gets dragged before a court, would be a nonsense-filled bore and there are indeed some of that silly lawyer and politics nonsense but there are also some unexpected events that Captain Conorado gets dragged into which were quite fun to read. Needless to say it involves Captain Conorado doing some “marine stuff”. I am a wee bit disappointed that the bitch didn’t get a good public spanking in court but the end was at least satisfactory.

The main plot revolves around the FIST’s deployment to a peasant world which happens to be the next planet where the aggressive aliens from the 4th book have decided to make another try. The deployment is, of course, bungled up by the usual chain of incompetent bureaucrats and pencil pushers so the marines not only not do know what they are up against but also deploy with totally inadequate equipment. Just for fun the planet is populated by religious fanatics that, despite the fact that they called for help in the first place, are less than helpful.

In general the book is good reading. A fair amount of action both in the main plot and the sub plots. It is as well written as the previous books. However it has a certain amount of “deja vue” feeling over it. Again the marines go in without knowing what awaits them and, most importantly, without the proper equipment to do the job. Been there, seen that, done that. This entire idea of the aliens being kept a secret, even from the people that really need to know, is just annoyingly stupid.

So the bottom line for me is that it is a good book but not fantastic.

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