Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Battlecry Battlecry
by Chris Bunch And Allan Cole

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

Yes, 785 is a very high page count, but this is an omnibus edition, comprising Sten, Sten 2: The Wolf Worlds and Sten Adventures Book 3: The Court of a Thousand Suns. So, it’s three books in one, and if you like military SF, it’ll be a rare treat. The Sten books were originally written back in the 1980’s, and this omnibus edition is a fine opportunity to get hold of this classic series (at a reasonable price), since they’re otherwise out of print and hard to find.

There’s plenty of action to be had, although some may be offended by Alex’s atrocious Scottish accent (which sometimes makes him hard to follow). On the other hand, there are Gurkhas, still defending the Empire in this distant future! Those details, and others, give the books a rather British feel, and I was surprised to learn that the authors are, in fact, Americans.

In the first book we meet Sten as a young teenager on the grim industrial world of Vulcan. His parents are killed in an "accident", and he becomes determined to escape, and exact revenge on the Company and its evil boss, Baron Thoresen. He rescues an off-worlder who proves to be the head of Mantis – one branch of Imperial Intelligence, who gets Sten away from Vulcan and into the military. Ultimately Sten ends up in Mantis, and succeeds in getting his own back on Thoresen with interest.

The second book follows Sten’s adventures as he is assigned to deal with an uprising of religious fanatics in the Lupus Cluster, and we learn that sometimes the people you choose to replace one set of maniacs can be easily as bad.

The third book has a more investigative tone as Sten is given the task of figuring who blew up the Covenanter, a bar on Prime World, with secret Imperial connections. In the process he uncovers a plot to kill the Emperor, and ultimately foils the villainous scheme, saves the Emperor, and averts an interstellar war.

As you may guess, it’s all rollicking good stuff, and fun to read, although not especially innovative. This is science fiction the way it used to be, and if you’re a fan of military SF in the style of Heinlein or Doc Smith you should enjoy this collection.

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