The IX is definitely one of the more unusual books I’ve read this year. Iconic groups of fighters from different periods in history are brought together in the far future on an alien world, in the hopes that their combined skills can defeat a seemingly unstoppable invasion. The cast includes soldiers from the lost Roman 9th Legion and a number of their Pictish adversaries, Native American warriors, cavalrymen from the pre-Civil War United States, a team of the United Kingdom’s Special Forces and members of the terrorist group they were in the midst of trying disarm– all plucked from the brink of death and revived to protect a nearly-extinct alien race.
The story could perhaps be best described as military science fiction, with lots of detailed descriptions of fortifications, weapons systems, troop movements, and battle commands. This procedural fare is broken up with bursts of feverish action and glimpses of interpersonal conflict and comradery. Dashes of European mythology and a heavy dose of Indigenous mysticism come to light as the story progresses, adding an unexpected dimension to the tale. The IX is an unusual novel, and all is definitely not as it first seems.
The narrative can be a little hard to follow at times; the perspective shifts frequently and is split not only between the factions but also between a number of different characters within each faction. I think this is the most characters I’ve ever seen given the spotlight in one book. But the author pulls it off fairly well and I was rarely confused about whose viewpoint the story was being told from.
Overall I enjoyed this book. The IX is a cautionary tale: the things we consider our greatest achievements may in fact turn out to be our downfall. Combined with its unique blend of science fiction influences, this story has a bit of something for everyone.