Review: “A Hymn Before Battle” by John Ringo


515pavogyylA Hymn Before Battle (Posleen War Series #1) by John Ringo. Baen Books. 480 pages.

I stumbled upon this military sci-fi book a few months ago when I was online and I saw a list of the best military science fiction series. Maybe it was on Goodreads, I don’t remember. Anyway, the covers, like a lot of these books, looked cheesy, like the old B-movies you see on the SyFy Channel every once in a while. Sharknado, anyone?

But I had read John Ringo before, and had never been disappointed, so I decided to give this one a shot. The premise is that earth is contacted by a federation of alien races that are fighting a war–and losing. They haven’t contacted earth before this because we are so far behind everyone else technology wise, AND we tend to be a bit, ahem, aggressive. And that’s the problem they are having. They are fighting a losing war because none of the good races are aggressive–warlike–enough. They agree to supply us with the technology to fight if we agree to go and fight their war for them. And one other incentive? This alien aggressor race, the Posleen, is scheduled to invade earth in five years.

It doesn’t take long for the entire earth to buy into this new war footing. And it is a huge undertaking. And that’s part of the problem with this book. Because John Ringo is starting a series and not just talking about one hero, but perhaps a dozen characters, the story is very complex and takes a while for the reader to get a handle on. In fact, there was a point where I almost stopped reading because I couldn’t keep track of who was who. It reminded me of the struggles I had reading Game of Thrones.

But there is a payoff. The last half of the book is fantastic. John Ringo is a very good storyteller when it comes to the battlefield. The reader is taken from riots on earth to behind enemy lines action on a swamp planet to main battle action among skyscrapers on a desert planet. If you like military sci-fi, this is definitely good stuff. Better yet, it’s the first book in a series.

I give it four out of five stars.

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