Monday, August 7, 2017

The Golden Horde, by Chris Kennedy

If you just want the condensed review on Amazon, click here

As a matter of fact, click there anyway, and mark my review 'Helpful' (if you find it so). I'm working on three fronts now: this blog, Amazon reviews, and Goodreads reviews. The only one that matters for the authors (except in terms of exposure) is the Amazon review, and for reasons I can't go into right now, but have explained elsewhere, 'Helpful' clicks have the best potential for translating into money for the people doing the creative work.

It's been a month since the worlds of the Four Horsemen exploded into my reading sphere. It was the launch of  "A Fistful of Credits" at LibertyCon (which I was able to not attend, for the nth year in a row) that got my attention, and I reviewed it here on July 7.

And I was in love.

I should say, rather, that the love I already had, for military sci-fi, had found an additional object of affection. I had some prior reviewing commitments, but I immediately added "The Revelations Cycle" (for such is the name of the Horsemen series) to the queue. It SEEMS as though I've been entirely immersed in Horse product ever since, but actually, Dear Readers, that has not been the case. I just went back and counted, and discovered that since that review of FOC, I reviewed nine works by seven different authors. They were GOOD books too, although perhaps not in the transcendent sense that Theresa is a GOOD girl.

However, it's extremely rare for me to review multiple works out of the same series in a short period of time.
I can only think of one other time I've done that, and that was when I read David Pascoe's Volumes 2 - 6 of "Tales of the Unquiet Gods" from July 2 - July 4, 2015, but those were short stories/ chapters issued later as a single book. It's well worth your time, by the way.

The reason is that there are a LOT of great authors out there, writing a LOT of great books, and it's aggravating to me that they get lost in the crowd. So, I rarely review more than two in a row from the same series or author. Except with this series: With this review, I will have done seven works in the past month. Five are novels, reviewed here and on Amazon and Goodreads; the other two are short stories, which I have submitted to Tightbeam, the National Fantasy Fan Federation ezine.

It's been GREAT! And I'm given to understand that more is on the way.

The "Golden Horde" features another great mecha battle scene (taken from the book, by the way) by Brenda Mihalko and Ricky Ryan. I was not familiar with their work prior to starting the series, but the art and lettering has been great, and the consistent approach means you can recognize a book from the series without question.

The basic storyline is that the aliens landed on Earth, once Voyager 1 left the solar system, since that qualified us as an interstellar species. They had huge technological advances to sell us; unfortunately, apart from some raw materials, we had nothing they were interested in. However, through an unfortunate series of events, they discovered we could fight, and that turned out to be a rare trait in the Galactic Union.

The fix was in at the start, though. In addition to dumping their rubbish on Earth buyers, the initiation into the Mercenary Guild turned out to be particularly brutal. Of the 100 mercenary and military groups who went out first (known as the Alpha Contracts), only four came back. Each one of these happened to feature the image of a horse on their battle regalia, so they collectively became known as the Four Horsemen: Cartwright's Cavaliers, Asbaran Solutions, the Winged Hussars, and the Golden Horde.

Recently, each one has faced some pretty tough luck. But, as the saying goes: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action. Since the Golden Horde is the FOURTH occurrence, there can be no doubt about the malevolence.

All of the Four Horsemen have some unusual ways of accomplishing missions, but the Golden Horde is just downright...weird. Their tradition demands that they be lead by a matriarch, who receives a vision on her deathbed, which she passes on to her successor. These visions are treated with utmost sincerity by the leadership, and their fervor communicates itself to the cadre and the troops.

The transmission of believe is facilitated by two things: the troops are recruited from orphanages, so the Horde becomes their new family, even giving them new names; and each troop is given cybernetic upgrades, so they can link with each other and their equipment through electronic telepathy.

The close-knit nature of internal relationships is contrasted with the distance the Horde keeps from everyone else. Although they will ally with other mercenary groups, they take special care to make sure they have complete control over all modifications of their equipment. They employ the best hackers in the universe to refine and protect their operating systems, and that's been working well for them.

Until they get struck with their own version of the Summerkorn Blues. He has been trained in logistics, and initially just got off track because he couldn't see the forest for the trees; he's dither on submitting the moist precise report possible, until it was too late for it to make a difference. Cashiered from each of the other Horsemen, he is, somewhat inexplicably, hired to fill a critical spot in the Horde's supply team. And here, his desire to make up for his previous errors results in the greatest threat to the human race being unleashed.

Those spunky Earthmen: will they manage to muddle through? Tune in next week!

Actually, it seems as if I heard somewhere that there IS something coming out on August 10, but don't quote me on that. However, DO quote me on this: it's a most excellent series, a most excellent book, and it has some of the most interesting characters and monsters I've seen all week.

Final note: thank you, to all who sent well-wishes to us for our anniversary. It blessed our hearts.

Peace be on your household.

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