Book Review: Fist of God

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Terry Mixon

Hey Space Cadets, this is the next installment of book reviews. I’ve read this book several times, but I decided to re-read it and write a review of the first book in a series that I love without going further. However, I just couldn’t resist re-reading the rest of the series. Thus, I am now doing a review of the first omnibus, Empire of Bones Saga Omnibus Volume 1. I’ve listened to the audiobook as well as reading the eBook. I’ve enjoyed this story on all of the mediums I’ve found it! Now that I’m writing more reviews, I wanted to share a series that is near and dear to my heart with you! Since I’ve reviewed the three novels included in the omnibus, I’ll be writing this review on the short story “Fist of God” that was included as bonus content. But enough about me, onto this review. Now let’s get to it!

 

Title: Fist of God (Empire of Bones Saga Omnibus, Vol 1)

Author: Terry Mixon

Narrator: Veronica Giguere

eBook Price:  USD 6.99

Audiobook Price: USD 25.99 or 1 Audible Credit

Obtained:  I bought both formats from Amazon.

Pages:  718

 

 

Rating:  5/5 Grenades

Summary:

First, let me say that none of what I’ll say in this section couldn’t be found on the back copy of the novel. Heck, I cribbed this summary from the back, and then I added my own twist! And not even much of one, since most of the books I read already have kick butt descriptions (aka blurbs). If the blurb doesn’t catch my eye, then I tend to skip the book unless a friend recommends it. Generally speaking, my goal is to provide a spoiler-free review, so here goes nothing!

 

With tens of thousands of lives on the line, Princess Kelsey Bandar must harness the power of cutting-edge Imperial technology to stop terrorists with a nuke. Her friends call her plan suicidal. If they only knew how dangerous it really was.

 

If you love epic, galaxy-spanning, action-oriented space opera, then you should read this series.  Plenty of adventure and intrigue to keep you glued to your seat in this page-turning novel! It’s the perfect blend of space opera and military science fiction. If this sounds like your flavor of badassery, then you’ve come to the right place!  This short story in the omnibus is a brilliant continuation of the Empire of Bones Saga Universe, where the author harkens back to the heyday of pulp science fiction!

 

 

Characters: 

In this novel, there is only one main character who we follow, Princess Kelsey Bandar. Keeping the focus on Kelsey made you feel closer to her, which is how I like things. There were flushed out secondary characters who were a lot of fun, but they weren’t the focus of this story. But let’s talk about Princess Kelsey Bandar. When we first meet her, she’s the spoiled daughter of the New Terran Empire, a petite bombshell of sassy entitlement. Picture a princess in your mind, and you can envision Kelsey. She’s the “spare apparent,” a term I first heard from Terry Mixon and summed her role as the second in line to the imperial throne. When she decided she wants to find a mission for her life, to become more than her status as an imperial princess, her father turns her life upside down. The emperor sends her on the voyage to explore the remains of the fallen empire, where she gets stuck on the other side of a one-sided flip point. During those adventures, she is implanted with super soldier Terran Empire Marine Raider enhancements and is left to deal with the consequences of those changes. She becomes an unlikely warrior, turning a spoiled princess into the “every man” soldier. Except she has those enhancements. In this newest edition the Empire of Bones Saga we see even more growth from her, making her an even more likable character. She’s coolly efficient under fire but aware of her weaknesses in tactical doctrine. Instead, she relies on advice for her internal AI, Major Ned Quincy. He’s the shadowy remnant of the man he used to be, but we don’t learn to much about Kelsey and Ned’s pairing in this short story. We again see her under the stress of galactic conflict, as she struggles to process the horror that’s unfolding on Harrison’s World. Overall, I love her in this latest edition of the Empire of Bones Saga. Her character came alive on the page, giving Jared and Talbot fits as they tried corralling her. I give Terry Mixon 5 out of 5 Grenades for his portrayal of Kelsey! I can’t wait to see where the author takes her in the books to come!

 

 

Plot: 

The premise for this series was not that different from other space opera stories out there, humanity post-earth trying to reclaim the spacefaring society that they’d left behind. However, it’s in the execution where the author excels. His stories are pure escapism and enjoyment, under the banner of intergalactic science fiction. This short story, like the rest of the novels in this series, fit squarely within the scope of an expansive space opera that I love to read. The story was action-packed, with a plot arc that kept me engaged. I loved that there were never any lulls that bored me, this short story was action-packed with a defined plot that was easy to follow. It fit squarely within the plot arc of the larger universe but stood on its own as well. It was just so fun that I wanted to explore every nook and cranny. This gripping adventure was never boring, and the characters and universe behaved in a way that made sense for the worlds the author created. It was a good set-up and well-executed premise that held my interest. I really loved the premise, and more importantly, I enjoyed how the execution. The pacing was excellent, and there was never a slow moment. There was never a point where the plot was confusing, or that I couldn’t figure out what was going on. I couldn’t ask for anything more; a unique premise, perfect execution, and incredible pacing! I again give Terry Mixon 5 out of 5 Grenades!

 

 

World Building:

This is a short story in the Empire of Bones Saga, and I absolutely loved it. It fits between books four and five and builds on the groundwork from the previous novels. As for adding to the world building, there wasn’t a lot of it in this short story, it instead stands on the books that came before it. There was enough for it to stand alone, but just barely. I think Terry wrote this way because his target audience were fans of the series, so this isn’t a slight at the author. Instead, this is an observation of the world building in this short story, Fist of God. You could read it as a self-contained story, but a lot would be lost in translation. As part of the greater whole of the series, the universe was consistent and included just enough of the mundane facets of life thrown in the fall grounded in this reality. Everything made sense and sucked you into the story. When describing the world, Terry was light on the details… but he had an appropriate amount for a story that was probably 10K words long. But you know me, I’ll always want more! Despite being thin on details, I could always picture the scene in my head, watching it in the movie theater of my mind. Despite being a bubblegum space opera, Terry has upped the bar of excellence, adding more sensory input to the mix; sights, sounds, smells, and feelings.  He didn’t reinvent the wheel, building on the existing tropes of space opera. Instead, he made brought it into the 21st Century! Overall, the world building was well done, and I was sold on the way it happened. It felt believable, and the characters fit within the universe Terry Mixon created. Like most of the stories I read, this one didn’t take itself too seriously, which allowed you to focus on the fun which is why I read in the first place. I give the world building 5 out of 5 Grenades. If you’re reading this as a stand-alone short story, then maybe this would drop to a 4.

 

 

Description: 

I have to give it to this author, this novel was chock-full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. I’m not sure how this would feel to someone who didn’t read the proceeding books in this universe but coming from the perspective of having read the books many times over, the descriptions were top notch! He described things across the sensory spectrum; sights, sounds, smells and even how the world felt. Terry went light on the details, with just enough specifics to allow you to visualize it for yourself. Maybe not the same as Terry pictures them, but enough to form a mental image in your mind. I loved that Terry kept his language simple, reminding me of what I liked about Tom Clancy’s style of writing. Their genres aren’t the same, but their style of language is similar, and I like that. There wasn’t a single place where I couldn’t picture the scenery and equipment, which added to the world that felt tangible and I enjoyed it. The author’s description of his universe was evocative, and enough to please your average readers. Again, I always prefer more descriptions over less, but Terry did enough to get the job done. If you’re reading this short story without all of the context, however, your mileage may vary. Overall, I didn’t find any issues with the descriptions and was impressed by the literary skills of Terry. I wish he were more descriptive, but he gave you enough to form your own visual image. If you want a pulp era space opera, then this is the book for you! I give him 4 out of 5 grenades in this category. If he gave me more details, it would be a 5, but the normies would hate it!

 

 

Narration:

After becoming a fan of audiobooks, I’ve listened to over a hundred hours of stories read to me by awesome narrators like RC Bray, Luke Daniels, Mark Boyett and now Veronica Giguere. I’m confident in what I enjoy and what I dislike. I know that I hate accents that seem too cheesy and despise narrators that sound like robots. With those pesky caveats, I will review the narration quality of this novel. The audiobook was well done, and the accents were consistent. Overall, Veronica’s audiobooks are professional quality, and she’ll leave you wanting more audiobook love from her! Seriously, the narrator, Veronica Giguere, did a fantastic job narrating this novel. Obviously, I would listen to more books by her, since this is the fifth one now! And with Amazon’s recent audiobook price increase, that is saying something. Seriously, I’ve purchased all of the books by Terry Mixon that she’s produced. I’ve even bought books outside my preferred genre because I enjoy the quality of what she puts out there. She didn’t bore you, or make you zone out because of her monotone or vocal fry. Did that make me sound smart? Because I have no clue about vocal fry, but I do know that Veronica puts together a fine narration. Her performance didn’t feel robotic like a machine was reading the novel to me. You’ll often see that from me because it’ll drag me out of a book so fast that I can’t listen to it anymore. With Veronica Giguere, it felt like a friend was sitting with me reading an amazing story that she couldn’t put down. Only she made kind of cool voices, with believable accents that didn’t yank you out of the story. Like the last book in this series, I listened to this novel with my wife, who also loved her presentation. Seriously, Veronica has her hooked on the series too… winning! Said Bossy Wife told me I should write more female characters, so I had an excuse to hire her myself! Overall, I give her 5 out of 5 grenades for her performance.

 

 

Book Cover:

Since I’ve been mentioning the covers in every single review, I decided to make that a part of the format going forward. As usual, a disclaimer that I’m colorblind so your mileage may vary. The first thing that jumped out at me was the typography used. The font and the color of the text jumped out as consistent with the rest of the series. The stylistic lettering told you it was a Terry Mixon book, fulfilling its mission. The coloring used for the font also nicely contrasted with the space image background. The spaceship on this cover was the main one from books one, two and four. The ship was set off-center, with two other ships just behind it. There was also an awesome looking planet behind the ships with the light from a faint star illuminating the image. This cover is my second favorite one in the series, it was seriously amazing. I know that the image is a composite of several pieces put together in Photoshop, but when I looked for where the various parts lined up, I couldn’t find them. The cover designer created a seamless image out of the many parts. I honestly couldn’t tell that this wasn’t custom art. And bonus, this cover looks great across all mediums! It’s equally impressive on your Kindle, Audible App or other smaller devices, though it really shines when you look at the full-sized cover on the Amazon site! Finally, I really loved the background images. They always pick gorgeous space backdrops for their covers, they really speak to the inner nerd in me! That sense of the vastness of space shown through. Overall, I give the cover 5 out of 5 grenades for sheer awesomeness.

 

 

Overall:

I really loved this short story; it was a lot of fun to read. It is worth mentioning again, I’ve read these novels multiple times and never once felt like it was a waste of time. They brought back the era of pulp science fiction that started the genre we know and love. This novel harkened back to what I loved about space opera and followed the first four novels in this series. The vibe of this story was amazing, and I loved seeing where the adventurers would end up. I wanted to know what happened to the Terran Empire, and how they lost so quickly to the rebels that broke an intergalactic empire in several weeks. There were no deep messages, or political themes, just good clean fun.

 

Like the other novels in this universe, the first thing that caught my eye was the cover. Okay, covers are the first thing that grabs us about any universe, but I digress. The spaceship on the cover is growing on me, and they’re well branded as a part of the same universe. I still prefer the ship from book three, [Command Decisions], but this one is growing on me too. Overall, the covers on this series are a better fit for the space opera market, but this one also managed to hit the military science fiction genre as well. More specifically, the space fleet subgenre of military science fiction. This isn’t a flaw of the series since the books fit into both genres, just an observation. Keep in mind, I’m colorblind, so your mileage may vary. Check them out, share your thoughts in the comments.

 

Full disclosure, I was written into this short story as a red shirt! My character was much maligned, misunderstood and treated poorly. I demand justice! Will you join me in a write-in campaign for a better outcome? Discuss this in the comments!

 

Now onto the book itself! One of the parts about this story that I loved was how the main character actually seemed worried about the lives of the massive numbers of civilians at risk on the planet below. This is refreshing, given how planetary annihilation was glossed over in the Erorsi System. I appreciated that the characters seemed to get the impact of the potential for carnage. This felt real to me, given that none of the characters were described as sociopaths.

 

Another one of my favorite parts of this story were the interactions between Major Ned Quincy and Princess Kelsey Bandar. The banter was fun, it kept the narrative moving and allowed us to watch the various parts of Kelsey’s personality as she grows throughout the series. I can’t wait to see what more there is to come from these two characters!

 

Another place where this novel shined was with the pacing. The negotiations between Fleet and the terrorists felt genuine, exactly how I’d expect someone in this position to behave. The combat felt intense and believable. The characters responded as you’d expect in those dire, time-sensitive circumstances. Terry kept the story moving along, constantly introducing new details as you needed them without overloading you with extemporaneous details that weren’t important to this short story. Terry kept the story moving along, illustrating the chaos of combat going on in the background. This worked for me!

 

Finally, I didn’t really find any grammatical or technical issues with this book. In fairness, I listened to this one on this round. But I’ve read this short story three times already and still love it! Seriously, I realize I’ve gone full fanboy, but this author has definitely raised the bar for space opera. He’s one of the shining stars of science fiction authors everywhere, you should check it out. This short story, Fist of God, was leaps and bounds above most of what’s out there! I was hooked from the first page because he wove the action in such a compelling way that you wanted to jump into the page and join the party. Some of that was because I’m already invested in this world, but if you’ve been following me, you already know that. Basically, this short story had me hooked from the beginning and kept it going throughout the whole novel. I would happily recommend this omnibus!

 

Further, this is an author I will definitely read again… but you know that I’ve reviewed the first four novels in this series already. Seriously, buy this novel! This applies doubly to the short story in question! But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money! I give this short story a 5 out of 5 grenades!

 

If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it!  Well, unless you decide to join Commander Jared Mertz as he jumps through the flip points into the unknown. And you after you enlist or take a commission, get kitted up, you realize that the god of your world is a dick. He’s an evil jerk that likes to send men with guns after you. In a rush to stand a fighting chance, you decide to try some old empire implants. But you clicked the wrong button and add a computer virus inside your brain. What could possibly go wrong? Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for you.  Or maybe you’ll be okay?  I mean, you could be the first sailor to make it out of Terry’s insane world alive?  On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome just MIGHT kill you. Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from the end times!

 

 Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

 

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