Packed with hard-core action written by battle-savvy combat veterans, the explosive Starfist series has become hugely popular across America. Now the saga of the courageous Marines continues in Flashfire, as the 34th Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) ventures to the edge of Human Space to fight a number of enemies . . . some on their own side.
Tensions erupt between the Confederation and several frontier worlds when civilians are shot dead at an army base on the planet Ravenette. Enraged, the Ravenette government and nine neighboring planets form a coalition, and their first act of secession is to overrun Ravenette’s Confederation garrison. With the armed forces of ten worlds seizing the brutal upper hand, the embattled troops need help—now—and they need it bad.
Enter the Marines of the 34th FIST. As the nearest ready-to-deploy unit, the team is sent to Ravenette with orders to hold the line until reinforcements arrive. The upcoming operation promises to be no picnic, for while sophisticates may ridicule the backward ways of the uncouth frontier folk, no one scoffs at their fighting ability.
Charlie Bass doesn’t mince words for his men in Company L’s third platoon. Two army divisions—perhaps thirty thousand soldiers—are being overwhelmed, and somebody expects a thousand Marines to save the day. As pompous Confederation generals wreak even more havoc than the enemy, there are those who call the mission suicide . . . but not the Marines.
Of course it sounds hopeless, but for Marines like Charlie Bass and the rest of the 34th FIST, accomplishing the impossible comes with the territory.
Fans of military SF who appreciate down-and-dirty ground action will enjoy Sherman and Cragg's hyperrealistic look at the infantry combat of the future. The marines of the 34th Marine Fleet Initial Strike Team (FIST) face a more conventional, and perhaps more deadly, opponent than they did in their last outing, A World of Hurt (2004). Secessionist forces on the planet Ravenette forces as well trained and equipped as themselves resent the Confederation's preparations against the alien Skank threat. Since the existence of the secessionist threat is classified, the marines' efforts to deal with it are mistaken as an attempt to subvert local autonomy. The authors, both combat vets, draw on the U.S. Civil War's Peninsula campaign as a model, while emphasizing the small-unit leadership as much as the grand strategies. The tension builds as the marines realize that the fight will leave them weakened against the real enemy lurking over the horizon. This book not only entertains but makes the reader reconsider the costs of government secrecy.
They may know warfare, but...
Writing is marginal, pace slow, emotional engagement with the characters a lot of maneuver. The language is peppered with f-bomb, no graphic sex, but plenty of sexual reference.
Chapter openings like, "Private Alee Solden, first squad, second platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 3rd Provisional Infantry Division, Confederation Army", bored me, interfered with the story and ruined the flavor of the book for me.
Too much bootcamp to really enjoy the book. I would not recommend this to someone with a limitless amount of reading time on their hands. A better time is had with Elizabeth Moon's Vatta Series, if you are looking for warfare in space and beyond.