Hey Space Cadets, here is the next installment in my series of book reviews. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I’m working on book four of The Sleeping Legion Series. Full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes or something! I will hold what I made in book three; loads of action, some surprises and a lot of exploding goodness. Don’t believe me? Read it for yourself, Operation Breakout is live! Now I’m working on the last two novels in The Sleeping Legion Series and outlining my next project. It’s based off of one of my twisted dreams, I think it’s gonna be the next big thing in science fiction. It feels like a winner, but you’ll have to wait and see!
But enough about me, onto this specific review. After I read book two in this series as an ARC, I knew I wanted more. So, what did I do? I bought book one of course! Now let’s get to it!
Title: Cartwright’s Cavaliers
Author: Mark Wandrey
Price: $3.99 USD (Kindle Edition)
Obtained: I bought this story and audiobook off Amazon after loving another book in the series, Asbaran Solutions.
Rating: 5/5 Grenades
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. I wanted to provide a spoiler free review, so here goes nothing! Ultimately, this is a family saga, a tale of redemption and one man’s journey to acceptance. The main character, Jimmy Cartwright, was the only son of the owner and commanding officer of Cartwright’s Cavaliers. Heir to one of the leading “Four Horsemen” mercenary companies, he was all set to inherit the family business. Except he had one little hurdle. His mom bankrupted the family business, running off with the money and he was too fat for field work to remake the family fortune. He wasn’t just chubby, he was morbidly obese and not fit for field work. Lucky for Jim, his predecessors were smart, they’d created a charitable endowment that left outdated equipment Jim could use to complete the next contract. And then, just maybe, resurrect the company. It’s up to Jim to find the people he needs to operate the machinery of war, train them, and lead them to victory. But the company will only be saved if he’s good enough.
There are two main characters in this story; Jim Cartwright and the Cartwright’s Cavaliers mercenary company.
Jim Cartwright: He is the main character in this story, on a quest to save his birthright. Jim comes to his majority just as his mom robs the family company blind, making a series of bad business decisions. We suspect she embezzled from the company, though this isn’t spelled out in the text. The author, Mark Wandrey, is good like that. He writes layers, like an onion. With nothing to lose, Jim uses a few corporate cast offs to rebuild the company. By saving the company, he can prove his worth to the long line of Cartwright’s who’d made the company great. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the character the author created. He laid it on thick, talking about the largeness of Jim’s girth. He didn’t go for chubby, or a few extra pounds, but truly morbidly obese. Okay, that is believable but then the overall effect was a character that was more YA than Mil SciFy. I liked him because I know how hard it can be to struggle with your weight. But it felt a little out of place for a military science fiction action hero. As time went on he grew on me even more. He was a Brony, which also felt too YA for my tastes, but the story was too fast paced to make it an issue. Overall, Jim had a definitive character arc, was flushed out and thoroughly described. You never felt like he was a blank shell, he was a character all on his own. I liked that with the loss of his parents, through death and abandonment, Jim made his company his family his priority. I deeply respected him for it. Jim’s love of his new family, Cartwright’s Cavaliers, was the best feature of the child thrust into manhood amid a legacy at its lowest point in living memory.
Cartwright’s Cavaliers: This is the company that is at the heart of the adventures of Jim Cartwright. This company serves as Jim’s new family, and the story is about saving it at all costs. It’s a connection with his heritage and his forefathers. The company personifies special time he spent perched on his father’s shoulder learning about the galaxy and the mercenary life that Earth provided to the sentient species whom inhabited it. With its mere existence, this company drives the plot and serves as the invisible puppet master pulling all the strings.
Like most of the military science fiction I love to read, this was an action-packed novel. Heck, maybe it was even more action-packed than some? The beginning was a bit of a flashback, and we get to watch Jim grow up into the adult who reaches his majority as the company fails. I wasn’t able to read this book from start to finish in one setting because of its length but I wanted too. I believed that the tactics worked for the novel, especially the mechanized ones. The action on the ground was believable, given the world building the author created. I loved all of the bad assed mech like their CASPer’s, the main mech toy for the human merc companies. With this workhorse of the mercs you can get away with a run and gun strategy. No need for too much sophistication, it’d feel out of place. When you’re King Cong, you don’t sneak around. Why would you? The story flowed seamlessly from one plot point to another, which made it easy to read and follow.
This is the second book I’ve read by Mark Wandrey, but between his first book (which I loved) and solid reviews I was sold. I wasn’t disappointed! Hell, I’ll probably check out more of his books across his universes. This world was very flushed out, and left you curious about the larger universe. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series, and see where else the universe expands too. While this is science fiction, and you definitely need to have some suspension of belief for the aliens Mark Wandrey invents. However, within the universe he builds they’re totally believable. Cartwright’s Cavaliers definitely had shades of the Prodigal Son, just like the other book in the series. Unlike other authors, Mark does everything with a metric butt ton of death and explosions. The one part I wasn’t thrilled about was the concept of Earth evolving into a system of the mercenary corporate planet, without any nation states, but it is a common trope in science fiction. Overall, this didn’t dissuade me from enjoying this story and I’m aware that many people LOVE those kinds of universe set ups. In a nut shell, the world building gets an A- from me, but only because of the lack of explanations on HOW we became a planet without nations.
This book was chalk full of visualization, and you could definitely imagine yourself in this world. It felt very flushed out, and there were times where you could even smell the aliens. I love it when a book is this immersive, where it takes you deeply into the world. For me, if a book isn’t described enough that I can imagine myself into the story. If a story is truly good, I often find myself imagining what happens when the book ends. That doesn’t work in books where the world wasn’t flushed out. In this category, Mark gets an A+++!
I really loved this book, though the Brony thing seemed forced and unnecessary. Also, there was an unspecified romance (spoiler free remember) that felt forced and unnecessary. It didn’t serve the plot, though I’d concede it could come into play in later books. That aside, the novel was awesomely written and the cover was amazing. The cover art was awesome, heck I even hired the artist for my No Marine Left Behind novelette. And the plot was everything a science fiction fan will love, definitely 5 out of 5 Grenades. Mark Wandrey had me hooked from the beginning, and kept it going throughout the whole novel. It’s an amazing adventure, a look into Mark’s twisted imagination, and leaves you wishing that his therapist had a therapist. This is a book I would happily recommend, and an author I will definitely read again. Heck, I would even recommend that you buy the novel! But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money!
If this book sounds like it’s right up your alley, check it out, you won’t regret it! Well, unless it motivates you to develop your own mech goodness. So you take loads of science classes, and graduate from college. Your mom will be so proud, you’ll be so proud and then you’ll get a job so you can play in cool labs. And since you’re so proud of your achievements, you rush through looking for the next one. After handing your buddy your drink, you say “I’ve got this, hold my beer.” But it doesn’t go as planned. BOOM! You’ve blown up not just your lab, but the entire city you live in. You become the most hated person in your state, and the fodder for a generations of internet memes. Well yeah, I guess this could be bad for your health. But hey, at least you got to see your house from orbit as you flew into the air, seconds from death. On second thought, be warned, fanboy/fangirl syndrome MIGHT kill you. Be wary, you were warned and if you have to go out like that at least enjoy the view from up there!
Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!
–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.