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West of Honor

2 Ratings: 4.0
A book by Jerry Pournelle

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Author: Jerry Pournelle
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Pocket
1 review about West of Honor

There are few honorable people left in the universe, John Christian Falkenberg is one of them

  • Dec 3, 2009
Pournelle has always been one of the most militaristic science fiction writers, glorifying the concept of men fighting and dying for pride, their unit and the glory of victory. The premise is that the United States and the Soviet Union grew to fear the rise of other powers more than they feared each other. Therefore, they joined together to create the CoDominium (CoDo), a joint military force that represses all other political entities as well as scientific advancement.
In this case, the setting is the planet Arrarat, originally settled by religious groups with a desire for land and a more primitive lifestyle. The land was fertile so the agricultural colony thrived. However, the ruling political body then decided to use the planet as a dumping ground for criminals and other political undesirables. This has led to what amounts to a civil war and John Christian Falkenberg is the de-facto leader of the CoDo marine force sent to support the appointed governor.
Falkenberg is an excellent military commander; by doing the unexpected very well he easily wins the first major engagement. However, when the governor is somehow trapped and the CoDo marines are to attack the forces holding him, something is not right and Falkenberg makes sure that he does not put his forces into a completely untenable position. The marine leadership learns very quickly that the political hounds are out baying at everything, there is no simple or easy solution to the problem, and stability on Arrarat required the deaths of many marines and the killing of many of the rebels at the hands of another group.
Despite his militaristic leanings, Pournelle does not express the situation in glowing terms; the marines are professionals that understand that some of them will die horrific deaths in the battles to come. The unusual point is that the marines are portrayed as the only honorable people; all others are devious with hidden and self-serving agendas. Politics and economics are intertwined and dirty, and the marines must use their guts and blood to shovel the resulting muck. It is a story that maintains your interest, although there is no real glory here, just an opportunity to fight and die for the cause of the moment.

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