I’ve been reading an increased amount of military themed science fiction lately so when I was offered a copy of Bennett R. Coles’ ‘Virtues of War’ to review, I jumped on the chance to take a look. Before getting into details, I can honestly tell you right now that I am extremely happy that I did! Aside from the above, we also see Colesbring us a thriller that is full of combat set in the 26th century. Yes, humanity is both at its best and at its worst in a war of rebellion from colonies in space that are trying to establish their independence from what was once their home world.
In the novel, we have a bit of a coming of age story where we follow Lieutenant Katja Emmes who has just been given her first command. Through the story, you see her go from a newly appointed officer to a seasoned one as we are see her rise through experience as she tries to prevent a rebellion that has already begun. Humanity has the ability to travel between the stars and colonize new worlds and yet we still can’t seem to stop trying to enslave one another or blow each other up.
Sadly, that seems about right. This is a future that quite commonly reflects society today – just on an interstellar level.
No alien contact has been made and it is a society fragmented with war where the only way to negotiate the change that colonies feel is needed must be from breaking their ties from the Terran government. While war with the Terran Astral Forces should be a no brainer (as no military might can oppose them), what we soon find is that in the style of the ‘Star Wars’ prequel, it would appear that a robotic army has been built to push back their oppressors.
While being in space and having robotic armies feel like we might be having a large science fiction aspect, it truly felt that the military portions had the stronger writing behind them. While the characters were believable and had depth to them, it felt hard to truly emphasize with many of the characters including Katja either due to egos or a lack of morality that bled through the page. Still, the writing shined through as this was a compelling read even without ever being able to fully relate to these characters.
My one main complaint would be that the root of this conflict between the Terrans and their colonies never seemed to fully be spelled out on page. As this novel is the first of a trilogy, I am hoping that we get to have it examined in depth in the sequel though hope that Coles doesn’t just skimp on the details of the past as he pushes forward.
That being said, I’ll be buying the sequel either way as the writing itself caught my interest and kept my eyes solidly on each page from start to finish. If you are a fan of solid military themed science fiction, this one is a great read . However, if you want characters that you can enjoy rooting for, this might not be the book for you.