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Book Review – War to the Knife

Peter Grant has debuted his newest book, War to the Knife.  If you enjoyed his “Maxwell Saga” books, you’ll like this even more.

This book takes place in the same universe as the Maxwell series, but centers on the small, backwater planet of Laredo.  The planet has been invaded and conquered by the Bactrians, but resistance continues.  The Bactrians are a despicable breed, and are either killing or enslaving what is left of the planet’s population to make it into a new possession.  The story centers around efforts by the resistance to hurt the Bactrians, until an opportunity to mortally wound them comes along.

This book is a page turner, and you will find it hard to put it down.  Since the setting doesn’t encompass an entire galaxy as it did in the Maxwell books, Peter was able to concentrate on describing the people and places on Laredo in detail.  The action comes early, and is frequent, but there are also a lot of places where the story is carried along with conversation.  This is not a thriller by any means, but neither is it a bunch of talking heads going on for 100 pages at a stretch.  The story is compelling and grabs you in the first few pages.  Don’t be surprised if you finish it in one sitting.

If you’re looking for  Tom Clancy techno-babble or a Star Trek “everything works really well and happens pretty quickly in space” book, then keep looking.  Grant asks that you believe that faster-than-light travel is possible, that fusion reactors and energy weapons work, and that space travel within star systems is common, and that’s about it.  He makes an attempt to stick with at least a bit of Newtonian and Einsteinian physics when it comes to space travel, in that you can’t just drop into hyperspace at the drop of a hat or get across a star system or between star systems in a few hours.  Communications between systems are handled via messages on ships, and everyone is restricted by the speed of light when it comes to space combat and communications.  It makes the story longer when you have to say “The missile will get there in six hours”, but I find it more realistic.

The principle characters in this book, both good and bad, are straight out of central casting.  The gritty, honorable resistance fighters, true to their last act, are there.   So are the despicable Bactrian security forces, who are even called the “SS”.   Some of the more interesting characters are in the Bactrian army.  Where the black-suited security guys are sadists and villains, the brown-uniformed professionals of the army seem to be honorable and fair, even if they are part of the forces repressing and destroying the Laredan population and culture.

War to the Knife can probably be enjoyed by anyone from teenagers to senior citizens.  It’s not a children’s novel, but it definitely can be enjoyed and understood by younger readers.  There is a bit of language and implied sex in it, but it’s not flagrant.  I would definitely allow Girlie Bear or Little Bear to read it.I wouldn’t suggest starting this book after dinner, because you’ll be up late finishing it.   Like I said, it’s a page turner.  Get in the hammock with a cool beverage, tell the kids to leave you be for a few hours, and enjoy.

Disclaimer – I was a beta reader for this book, and Peter gave me a gift card to Amazon to thank me for my help.  However, I used that gift card to purchase a copy of the book once it was published, and I received nothing for this review.

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