In the 20th century Earth sent probes, transmissions, and welcoming messages to the stars. Unfortunately, someone noticed. The Galactics arrived with their battle fleet in 2052. Rather than being exterminated under a barrage of hell-burners, Earth joined their vast Empire. Swearing allegiance to our distant alien overlords wasn't the only requirement for survival. We also had to have something of value to trade, something that neighboring planets would pay their hard-earned credits to buy. As most of the local worlds were too civilized to have a proper army, the only valuable service Earth could provide came in the form of soldiers…someone had to do their dirty work for them, their fighting and dying.
I, James McGill, was born in 2099 on the fringe of the galaxy. When Hegemony Financial denied my loan applications, I was kicked out of the university and I turned to the stars. My first campaign involved the invasion of a mineral-rich planet called Cancri-9, better known as Steel World. The attack didn't go well, and now Earth has entered a grim struggle for survival. Humanity's mercenary legions go to war in Steel World, best-selling author B. V. Larson's latest science fiction novel.
©2013 B. V. Larson (P)2013 Audible, Inc.
I read, I write; I listen
Cast from the mold of Star Ship Troopers and B.V. Larson’s other great space adventure, his Space Force series, Steel World; Undying Mercenaries is a high speed, high adventure, military Sci-Fi, page turner.
Having already submitted to the vast empire of the Galactics, Earth is in a struggle for survival and humanities legions of mercenaries must battle on planet Cancri-9, better known as Steel World to endure; but death is not the usual final obstacle as these mercenaries have the ability to regenerate.
It’s an interesting concept, the book has several plot twists and the characters are well developed and believable.
This is a story begging to be a series; and the narrator, Mark Boyett, gives a great performance.
Dino Aliens ✔
Cool guy Protagonist ✔
Cool World ✔
Likable Characters ✔
Unlikable Characters ✔
Protagonist likes looking at woman's posterior when being yelled at ✔
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
This turned out to be a very good military sci-fi book. I was surprised since the only other book I read by Larson was just on the edge of being unreadable. No, seriously, I went in with very low expectations of his writing skills and ended up not wanting to put the book down.
It is a fairly straight forward military sci-fi where aliens have a large presence. We follow the story only from the human side, but the alien species involved are distinct from each other and reasonably well-built. Sure, there are lizards, but as an alien species, they are just as plausible as any other alien species. The tech involved is interesting (and pretty cool) and the galactic "rules" that all the species live by are logical and consistent.
Is the main character a bit of an azz?... well, sure, but it isn't over the top and he isn't smarmy about it. There aren't any significant female characters in the book - those that are there are mainly viewed as "rewards" - but they aren't particularly objectified either, and they certainly are not bimbo sexpots (which is a nice change).
The narration is very good and there is no sex or gore and I don't actually recall any swearing. For a read-alike, you could try Marko Kloos' Frontlines series - they are quite similar in writing style and content. Oh, and Morgan's Kovacs series is kinda similar in tech-concept (but much more graphic).
I only wish all audiobooks were this good. This one was excellent from start to finish, everything from the story, character development and narration were flawless. I love it when a story hooks me from the first page and holds on until the end.
Another thing I liked about this book was that the characters were believable, as in they acted like real people and each had unique flaws. An annoying thing about some action stories is the way that that characters are often 2 dimensional and the hero is some kind of superman, not so in this one. Also I liked the way there was the political infighting and backstabbing in the Legion unit. In my experience, any time you get a bunch of people together you're going to have that kind of thing and yet its often an element that's left out of fiction (the B grade fiction anyway). I spent 20 years in the US Army, and the unit portrayed in this story seemed like a real military unit, the terms and technology were different but the people acted in a way consistent with my experience of how real soldiers talk and act.
I would rate this book right up there with some of my other favorite military fictional reads, to list a few: A Hymn Before Battle (Posleen War Series by John Ringo), Red Storm Rising and Without Remorse by Tom Clancy, Invasion America Series by Vaughn Heppner, Armor by John Steakley, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein and Redliners by David Drake.
I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the Undying Mercenaries series.
Re Audible: I rate A-F based on 10-pt scale (e.g. 90-100 = A = *****). I try not to be too soft on ratings, or needlessly give F's.
Steel World Overall = C
Story (D+): I was HOPING for another great SciFi novel. What I got instead was a protracted first-person tale of a series of battles against dinosaurs (T-rexs & raptors). I guess it is technically SciFi in the same way that Land of the Lost or something is SciFi, but you could completely remove the spaceships, put it back on Earth, rewind time to the Cretaceous period, and you’d end up with basically the same story by sprinkling in some humans. The only part even remotely worth pondering for a few minutes was the concept of brain “backups” allowing for revival after becoming dino hors d'oeuvres (but the author beats that concept to death, since everybody was getting picked out of T-rex teeth ad infinitum).
Narration (B): pretty solid. Decent variation for voices. Some of the characters were voiced in a bit of a stereotype of military personnel.
I actually had to convince myself to go ahead and finish up with the book. I will NOT be checking out the other ‘Worlds’ in this series.
Better late than never.
Well, I have to preface this review with that statement, because, frankly, I've had a LOT of listening in front of me this Christmas season. Not a complaint as much as the cold hard fact of the matter.
So, let's get started.
I've already reviewed Larson's "Star Force" series, and I gave it high marks. I bought the entire series, and am working my way through THAT, and then planned to attack this, Larson's latest entry into military scifi.
To the point, this is an ambitious start to a potentially roller-coaster ride you'll to which you'll want to listen. It's gritty. It's VERY bad-arse. It doesn't waste time on over-complicated character development, and focuses on action, strategy, and storyline. Larson's new series is all about cutting to the chase - You want military scifi? Well lock and load, you're getting an earful.
I particularly like the pace Larson uses. It's different from "A Hymn Before Battle: Legacy of the Aldenata," another awesome military scifi, by john Ringo, which I've just reviewed. The Aldenate series covers a much broader landscape in the telling, as where here, Larson is more focused on close combat, squad interaction and a smaller cast of characters. Both series work, and frankly, reading either one makes you appreciate the other, because of their "on the mark" writing, despite their core differences.
The narrator here, Mark Boyett, has done the work well.
Yes, there are already TONS of spoilers, secrets and giveaways in a good number of Audible reviews. That being said, do you REALLY need to repeat those here? No, of course not.
So, this is a great start for Larson's new series, and finally, I get to give it a two thumbs up.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
My bad. I like space opera and I like this narrator, so I didn't listen to the sample. See, I don't like books written in first person POV. Rarely do I finish them. The constant references to "I" and "me" and "mine" just ruins the story-time feel for me. I guess I'm looking for the magical feeling you get from a classic-style storyteller: "Once upon a time..."
Sometimes I manage to enjoy an i-centric story, but it's rare.
I didn't finish this one. I have no complaints, it's just me.
But I wanted to alert other listeners, in case they feel like me.
Excellent performance by narrator Boyett.
I've read four books of this series and they're all as least as good as this one.
I am not sure why I love military science fiction - but I do - and I enjoyed this one very much. Lots of action and a quirky sense of humor throughout.
"If you liked Star Force, you'll love this"
I've listened to all 8 Star Force books (waiting for no9, the last in that series). That was an excellent series but this is even better. Plenty of action and a fast pace with some interesting tech, moving in a new direction from the Star Force universe.
Mark Boyett delivers another fantastic performance. Some of the characters sound very similar to those in the Star Force series though but I didn't find that to be an issue.
I'm very much looking forward to the next instalment - hurry up and write it Mr Larson ;)
"Reads like a teenager's dream of video games"
I kept getting annoyed with the paper thin characters, the lame obsession with how the main protagonist often finds his eyes wandering when talking to a female character. The comedy galactic aliens.
I'm all for pot-boiler type action SF and the like but this was weak all the way through.
Even Jack Campbell's Dauntless series for all its flaws is way better than this.
"Should I start this series"
I like a series to enjoy the immersive continuity. This seems quite light in tone though isn't the worst first in a series effort I've read. Some pleasant steps off the story to highlight or detail some tech or history with characterisation nicely done but perhaps with a little more depth. At around 10-11 hrs its quite a bit shorter than my usual read which kept the pace up, the rambling at minimum and overall a good bit of escape.
It had a feeling of a comic book with more depth. An unusual plot premise that did take me by surprise. Light easy listening science fiction.
Mark Boyett has a pleasing repertoire of voice and gave the characters a warmth that wasn't quite as evident in the writing.
A fight for mankind
"Read like the diaries of a soldier, but works well"
It's an odd one. The story is basic and has a few possible plot holes, but it works. The tale is just from one man from a personal perspective, which could make it one directional, but again it works.
A certain amount of my liking of this book is the reading of it. Mark Boyett reds it like it's a series of war diaries, making it feel partly like it's a documentary on past events rather than a story in the future. I think with out this I may well have been disappointed.
I'm looking forwards to the second book, just hoping the story does not lose it's way as I can see limitations in where this tale can go.
"slow to start good pace thereafter"
while the language used is mundane the story is interesting enough and some fascinating science fiction backing the plot up. worth a listen.
"Average Military sci-fi nothing major to report!"
Listened to this book all the way through so that's why it get 3 stars. I wouldn't call it awful, but it is far from great. Just like lukewarm water. The single POV makes it feel monotone and doesn't give that different perspective character you enjoy when reading a good book. It's a bit like a "live, die, repeat" T-shirt which has seen one to many wash cycle.... gray and faded out.
Really enjoyed this tale of Galactic mess ups
Love listening to Mark Boyett's narration
"Platoon in Space"
Excellent story like Platoon but in space with more depth into unit politics. The idea of combining Mercenary soldiers with the make up of the Roman Legion all for the purpose of keeping Earth in the Galactic Council is fantastic using human aggression as a commodity
I thoroughly enjoyed the reading I hope there's a new one in the works
What is the point of war if everyone gets reborn 20 minutes later ?
once you start thinking about that, the whole story becomes pointless, they're merc who can't really die. But they fight anyway.... why ?
"Formulaic, by the numbers stuff"
A juvenile novel without the charm of one of Robert Heinlein's.
Nonsense technology for reincarnation.
No need to rewind if you fall asleep before your timer stops it.
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