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by David Sherman and Dan Cragg
Random House Audio, January 2003
Abridged audio pages
ISBN: 0739302310

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Marines of the 34th FIST are at it again in this high action sci-fi novel. The 34th triumphed over the fanatical alien Skinks in a previous book, but this time the Skinks have a powerful new weapon, a rail gun capable of shooting down starships orbiting the planet Kingdom. Having launched their latest attack against humanity on Kingdom, the Skinks appear in command of the fight until the World Confederation sends in the Marines.

Kingdom's ruling body, the Collegium, is led by an ecumenical quintet of religious leaders bent on keeping their various followers in line through peaceful means. Dominick DeThomas, on the other hand, uses violence to squelch religious dissent. As Dean of the Collegium, DeThomas employs a sizable force of personal troops to confiscate unorthodox literature and arrest anyone suspected of heresy. Victims are brought to DeThomas' castle where they are tortured until they either recant their beliefs or die. By the time the Marines land on Kingdom, DeThomas' power has grown to the point where only Archbishop General Lambsblood and Kingdom's army can stop him. Unfortunately, Lambsblood is too busy fighting Skinks to take note of DeThomas' growing political ambitions. Ultimately, DeThomas plays on Lambsblood's resentment of the Confederation and the army's weakened condition to force the general into an unholy alliance.

There's blood and guts aplenty in this eighth installment of the STARFIST chronicles. The battles between the Marines and the Skinks are detailed and many, while the descriptions of torture are sometimes too vivid for comfort. Although primarily a story of human/alien conflict, an underlying theme of religious intolerance and dictatorial ambition runs through the book and mirrors tragedies of the past. Sci-fi and military fiction fans should enjoy this action packed book.

Reviewed by Mary V. Welk, March 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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