Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Gears Of War Gears Of War: Aspho Fields
by Karen Traviss

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

You have to wonder when 12-year-old boys at Intermediate School display interest in a book about an R18 computer game and ask why I’m reading it. Of course I explain that I’m reviewing it. But it’s obvious that the Gears of War game is reaching a target audience way below its official rating. Of course, that means that it’s likely that the books will also reach a younger teenage audience, and it’s important that the writer and publishers realise this. This book is undoubtedly violent, not surprising because it’s set in the violent war-torn world of Gears of War, but not unnecessarily so. It certainly enriches the background of the game, and I think keen players would most likely enjoy this book.

Aspho Fields intermingles events from the past of the games with events in the present, filling in the backgrounds of the key characters, Marcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago, and following their development as men and as soldiers. This culminates in the climactic Battle of Aspho Fields, the deciding conflict of the Pendulum Wars, and the self-sacrificing death of Dominic brother, and Marcus’ close friend, Carlos Santiago. What impressed me was just how credibly this was written, and then I checked the author’s details, and realised that Traviss had been a real life defence correspondent. Furthermore, she is English, and that rather explains a certain grittiness in this novel not always found in Military SF. War isn’t clean, it’s messy, and good people get hurt. Bad people too – including the Locust. I rather hope Traviss gets to explore the coming of the Locust in a later novel. That will be interesting.

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