I’ve been a good boy lately and been reading books that most people would consider socially edifying. But once in a while I have to eat a little ice cream along with my vegetables, in this case, military science fiction. Jay Allan has opened a whole new can of worms (or should I say universe) when it comes to that subject.
I don’t know if he’s incredibly prolific or been writing for a while (I suspect it’s the former; maybe both), but suddenly I see several series all based on the same universe, which isn’t such a bad thing. Because Allan has done his homework in creating the universe that Mercs takes place in. It’s a place where mankind has expanded to many other planets, only to have the earth destroyed by a nuclear war among the superpowers. With them gone, most of the industrial base and centralized government is gone as well. Individual planets, former colonies, are trying to forge their own way. There is conflict between them, and some want to foster that conflict, using it to further their own power in the human sphere. Others realize that humanity needs to unite against outside forces that threatened once before the nuclear war and may soon return.
That’s a look at what’s going on in the universe. But the more interesting story is that of the individuals, particularly that of the Cain family: General Eric Cain, who led human forces against aliens and won the war, then was killed; and his two twin sons, Darius, who now leads the Black Eagles, the most powerful group of mercenaries in known space, and Elias Cane, who blindly follows the law and is opposed to everything that his brother stands for. As they are gathered together, they realized that they most work together despite their differences or else humanity will suffer.
Allan has a couple of things going for him with this book, and I am assuming, this series. He has a very firm grasp on this universe and what is happening. Reading this, you can’t not believe that he knows what he is talking about. Now that I see how many other books are set in the same universe, it makes sense. The second part of that is characterization. He does a good job a making you care about the people in the story, which is important. This is a huge story, and because it is taking a while to unfold, I normally wouldn’t have the patience to wade through the slow parts, but I found myself pretty patient. That’s a good sign.
That being said, this is obvious self published, and he desperately needs a proofreader. Found at least a dozen–possibly two dozen–typos on my way through the story. But none of them were so horrendous that they made me stop and throw up my hands.
Now that I know that there are other series in this universe, I am going to go back and take a look at what other parts of the grand story he tells, and I might start over. But if you like military science fiction on a grand scale, this is pretty good.
I give it four stars out of five.