Monday, January 31, 2011
The Hero by John Ringo and Michael Z. Williamson
I liked Michael Z. Williamson's first novel so well that I thought I'd check out something else by him. The only thing I had handy was this collaboration by Ringo and Williamson, so...
I was a bit disappointed. It's possibly my own fault. I stopped reading Ringo's Posleen war series after about the fourth book, and that was quite some time ago, so there was probably a lot of background information that would have made this book make far more sense to me.
There were probably many interesting things in this book about the nature of the Posleen, Aldenata, and Darhel races that avid readers of the series have been puzzling over for years, but they were pretty much lost on me.
Ringo and Williamson spend quite a bit of time building the characters on a special forces team, letting us get to know them, perhaps to empathize with them. The team is sent to a world where the Blobs (a new enemy, as far as I can tell) have an outpost. Previous teams have failed to come back with any information.
The team discovers an ancient ruin of the Aldenata civilization, with some sort of mysterious artifact, which they remove and take with them. They also find the Blob outpost, and it turns out to be a decoy. They begin to head back to their waiting ship to return to the home worlds, when one of their number, Dagger, betrays and kills most of them with a neural grenade, intending to steal the artifact for himself, as it's potentially worth a billion credits.
What the heck? Why did they give us all this information about characters who were merely going to be cannon fodder after a short portion of the book?
The one alien member of the team, who can sense emotions and sometimes thoughts, if they are intense enough, a Darhel named Tindal, realizes the attack is coming just in time to grab the artifact and run. Another member of the team, Ferret, reacts just enough to avoid being killed, though he is somewhat crippled by the neural damage to his legs. From that point forward, the three of them play a cat-and-mouse game on the route back to the rendezvous point.
Dagger wants the artifact for himself, Tindal wants to take it to his home planet, where it can be studied by his people, and Ferret just wants revenge for his fallen comrades. Aside from the tension of them stalking each other for the next 150 pages or so, there's not a lot of meat to this novel. There were some interesting "reveals", perhaps, about the Darhel race, for those who have been following the series more closely.
I don't think this was either author's best work.