September 28, 2002

March Upcountry, by David Weber and John Ringo

What happens when the Empress of a good bit of the known galaxy treats her third son like a mushroom (e.g., keeps him in the dark and, well, you get the idea) from his childhood until he grows to adulthood because he resembles his treacherous father a little too much? You get Prince Roger MacClintock, good-looking, bored, possibly disloyal, unskilled (except at a few things he genuinely likes) because he's never been trusted to do anything important.

You get Prince Roger MacClintock, possible tool of the Empress's enemies. You get Prince Roger MacClintock, obnoxious, ill-tempered, and petulant, the burden of the Bronze Battalion of the Empress' Own Regiment. They'll keep him alive, die for him if necessary, but that doesn't mean they need to respect hiim--and they don't.

And then the ship that's taking Prince Roger and his bodyguard to show the flag on a remote planet is sabotaged. Prince and bodyguard have no choice but to land on Marduk, an extremely unpleasant place with only one starport where they can find a ship back home. And because that starport has just been taken by the forces of the neighboring star empire, they have to land in secret halfway around the planet or risk getting blown out of the sky.

This is a war novel, of the sort for which both David Weber and John Ringo are already known; it's also a coming-of-age novel. Bravo Company is going to have to do considerable fighting to get the Prince safely home; but the Prince is going to have to pull his weight and earn the respect of his troops. Roger's growth through the novel adds some needed depth to what would otherwise be a fairly shallow (if exciting) science fiction adventure.

I feel kind of like Deb English felt last month: I'm not at all sure that this is a good book, but gosh I had fun reading it.

March Upcountry takes Roger and the gang half the way home; the story is continued in March to the Sea, which is now out in hardback (I think). I'll wait for the paperback, but I'll definitely buy it when it comes out.

Oh, and my thanks go to my brother Chuck, who passed this one along to me.

Posted by Will Duquette at September 28, 2002 01:48 PM