40. Gust Front (Legacy of the Aldenata) by John Ringo. 736 p. Published April 2002.
This is the second book in the Legacy of the Aldenata (a.k.a. Posleen Wars) series. Five years have passed since the events in A Hymn Before Battle. During that time, Mankind has prepared for invasion. Armies have been conscripted, weapons manufactured, and defensive structures and shelters established. Well, mostly. Because nothing has really gone perfectly. Rioting and desertion have plagued the American armed forces. Galactic weapons and supplies have not been making quota. Shelters and defense stations are all incomplete. And politics and old-school thinking is hampering what little progress has been made.
Meanwhile, Michael O’Neal, hero of Deas, is doing what he can to bring Fleet Strike up to combat standards. And he’s succeeding well enough that a few friends among the armed forces have pulled strings to get leave time for both Michael and his wife, who’s serving as XO on one of the few frigates patrolling Earth’s spacefront. The two collect their daughter Cally from Michael O’Neal Senior and go on a vacation to the Florida Keys. While there they witness the shortages and hardships caused by the war and do what they can to help.
But while everyone expects the invasion to begin in a few months, the Posleen have come to visit much sooner. A Landing in Virginia brings all the defenses of the eastern seaboard to alert, and Michael has to rush to catch up with his squad before the counter offensive begins.
The second half of the novel is completely engaged with the fight against the Posleen. From the heroics of Fredericksburg, ground zero for the invasion, to the defense of Washington D.C., each page is packed with touching stories and individual accounts of the horrible war. Among these varied accounts are those of Cally and Papa O’Neal, Michael’s father, as they defend their farm from unexpected enemies. And as the Posleen overwhelm the defenses and mankind prepares to hold their ground, only one thing is certain: life on earth will never be the same.
Gust Front serves as the a perfect second book in this military-SF series. While filling his pages with action and tactical intrigue, Ringo maintains the humor, anguish, and stubborness that makes his characters come alive. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of the few chapters done in Posleen perspective, but I an understand their utility and appreciate the depth they provide.
I have to admit, this novel pulled me along by the nose. I was reading every chance I had, whether late at night when I couldn’t sleep, or at work, or in the movie theatre waiting for Hellboy 2 to start. This book kept me excited till the very end as only a few others have managed. I’ve already started the next book, When the Devil Dances.
A free online version of this book is available by the publisher.
Rating: 4 out of 5