‘Ghosts of War’ is the second part of Bennett R Coles’ military science fiction trilogy that began with ‘Virtues of War’. The first installment was an introduction that sucked me in and had me wanting to come back for more. A year and a half later the sequel is out and one has to wonder if it can live up to the hype? Are the characters more likable this time around? Do we find out more about the conflict between the Terrans and the colonists? Let’s dive right in and find out!
‘Ghosts of War’ right off the bat sets itself up as a different kind of beast. Instead of fighting off an invading fleet we’re following Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes, and Sublieutenant Jack Mallory as they have to once again save the world. Only, this time around the threat is coming from within. A covert enemy agent has used advanced technology to steal secrets right under the military’s nose and these secrets are a death sentence not only to agents around the galaxy but potentially to millions of innocent souls on Earth itself.
Of course, this terrorist isn’t the only threat that our heroes face.
Speaking of our heroes, it is easy to get much more invested in them this time around. I’m not sure if it was from better character development, the completely different tone of this story, or the change of setting. I think it was a combination of the three but regardless it works. The characters actually come off the page in as ones that you actually want to be invested in. The first novel had a strong plot carry us through and this one adds to the characterization that was sorely lacking before.
Thank you, Coles! A focus on the characters, their lives, dealing with PTSD and trying to continue working through it, revenge, and in a sense redemption all factor into the story.
Not only that but we get an expanded view of both life on Earth and the mindset of the Centuri culture. Life under the Terran government might not be quite what you expected from the first book though works perfect in the world which has been built.
Coles’ writing style has evolved since the first book. While a little lighter on action, the plot itself is much more in depth with a slow burn to quite an amazing payoff at the end. You won’t expect what is coming to actually happen and Coles plays it off masterfully. Going into ‘Virtues of War’ I wasn’t sure if Coles would be able to match the quality of his first book and he has clearly surpassed it. I can’t even imagine what direction the third installment to this trilogy will take us but I suspect that revenge will play quite an important theme going forward.
Clearly better than the original, ‘Ghosts of War’ delivers on all fronts and if you were hoping for more substance this time around you will not be disappointed!
Stuart Conover is an author, blogger, and all around geek. When not busy being a father and husband he tries to spend as much time as possible immersed in comic books, science fiction, and horror! Would you like to know more? Follow him on Twitter!