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25 February 2009

Eye of the Storm

John Ringo
ISBN: 978-1439132739
Rating: Buy, Hardcover, New

I might as well start this review with some disclaimers. I like John Ringo's books. There are a number of reasons but the two most important are his ability to write convincing battle scenes and his sheer output. Ringo is catching up to Weber in terms of number of books in print and has been writing about half as long.

Mrs. Bugbear hates John Ringo though, mostly because when I stick my nose in one of his books I only stop for washroom breaks. Yesterday at noon I started the Advanced Reader's Copy of Eye of the Storm. I finished at 9:30 last night after taking time out to drive home and eat supper.

Eye of the Storm picks up shortly after the end of Honor of the Clan which is his last collaborative effort with Julie Cochrane. With the exception of the Empire of Man series I think that Ringo works better as a solo writer than in collaboration. Eye of the Storm has its faults but it is far and away a better book than Honor of the Clan.

First the strengths, Ringo is a past master at providing gripping battle scenes and does some excellent work at the open and close of the book. He also nicely ties in all the books that he has co-authored in the Posleen universe with the exception of The Hero (with Mad Mike Williamson) which I'm given to understand is no longer canon. The tie-in neatly continues a couple of the most interesting concepts that Ringo and Kratman introduced in Yellow Eyes and Watch on the Rhine. A gripping story and good believable characterization are among the hallmarks of Ringo at his best and Eye of the Storm is no exception.

Now the weaknesses. I generally consider Ringo a good author but he's generally weaker on the emotive side of his stories. The grief that characters should feel in the event of inevitable death (especially in Ringo's Universes) is generally of extremely brief duration, mentioned almost in passing. I feel that in a sense Ringo generally (but not always) squanders the opportunity for the intense scenes that these periods of grief represent. There are exceptions to this rule, Mike O'Neal of course is still grieving the deaths of his wife and all the soldiers he's lost over the years, but O'Neal's grief is more a matter of character than of plot or drama. As I noted its a weakness not a glaring flaw in an otherwise great book.

Still Eye of the Storm was a very good book and has earned definitely earned a place on my bookshelf when it comes out in hardcover in July.

Now I have to finish Storm from the Shadows which I started reading last night.

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