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    Review of THE HERO by John Ringo (see his website) and Michael Z. Williamson (see his website)

    Baen, June 2004

    After a busted mission, the mostly human Deep Reconnaissance Team stumbles across an ancient artifact--working technology from the vanished Aldenata aliens. The Captain plans on returning it to base, getting the bonus and commendations that come from such an important find--but a billion credits worth of alien technology is enough to tempt a saint and the DRT is definitely not made up of saints. When one member frags the others, the three survivors must battle it out for survival and for a chance at the billion credit prize. Unfortunately, none can trust either of the others and the stage is set for a brutal three-way battle to stay alive in a dangerous and enemy-occupied planet.

    THE HERO starts painfully slowly, with history lectures, anti-environmental statements, and a military mission that wasn't really going anywhere. But in the second half, once the artifact is discovered and the true conflict begins, the pace picks up, characters have a chance to become fully defined, and the real story takes place.

    Authors John Ringo (see more reviews of novels by Ringo) and Michael Z. Williamson know their military and write convincingly of both military tactics and of the friction between front-line soldiers and the officers in the rear. The Bane Sidhe Elf (Darhel alien) adds interest with his combination of extreme physical skills and his inability to kill. The sociopathic human killer with a the superior sniper rifle, an eagerness to kill, and an unstoppable greed seems to have all of the advantages in the three-way struggle.

    Although I wish that Ringo and Williamson had condensed the first hundred pages, the second half of the book definitely makes it worth reading. Ferret, the wounded soldier who must track down and kill both the elf and the killer makes a fascinating character and Tirdal the Elf, with his difficulties in causing violence definitely gives the story a twist.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/18/04

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