Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Adapt and Overcome by Peter Grant

 Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about this third installment in the Maxwell saga is what it is NOT. It is not an urban fantasy with a wounded female ass-kicking protagonist who reluctantly learns to trust her friends and family, like 99% of what is being published today. No, Steve Maxwell was raised in an orphanage, but emerged as a strong, whole person who places trust in the trustworthy, makes friends and allies easily, and who operates with an internal moral compass that makes his decisions, while not easy, at least clear, quick and un-agonizing.

I'm not sure what it was that Peter Grant was working on so long in his rewrites and edits, but I don't see anything terribly different, from an enjoyment standpoint, from the earlier books in the series, save perhaps that he listened to those beta readers who thought he was doing too much world-building. He's trimmed down  to less than the amount of info dumps in previous iterations, though obviously massive amounts of information, well-delivered, certainly are no barrier to book sales...ahem...David Weber.

When Steve becomes the sole witness to an attempt at evidence tampering by a superior officer in the midst of a crash investigation on his latest assignment, his commanding officer decides to get him off planet and away from the newsies, so he is assigned temporary duty with the system defense forces of Rolla, helping them train shuttle crews. He manages to get his old buddy from OCS, Brooks Shelby, who is now a Marine lieutenant, assigned to the training team as well. While he is staying at Brooks' place temporarily between assignments, Brooks and his girlfriend introduce Steve to a lovely young officer, Abha Sashna (you see where this is going, of course) and the two of them fall immediately and hopelessly in love. The trio troops off to Rolla, and more military adventures shortly ensue.

Steve and his friends soon get a chance to demonstrate their martial skills when some old pirate enemies come to call, and the tension ratchets up a notch. His cool, calm competence and ability to anticipate the worst case scenario serves Steve well in these battles, and in the simulated ones at the command school he attends a bit later in the book. All work and no play has made Steve (perhaps in the eyes of the beta readers) a tiny bit of a dull boy, and Grant actually includes some passages detailing how Steve spends his down time, which gives us a glimpse of him in a more personal, less military, setting.

A good story, a likeable hero, and Grant leaves me anxiously awaiting the next book.

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