Tag Archives: Book

GrogHeads Reviews Marco Kloos’s “Frontlines” Series

We take a look at Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure, by Marco Kloos

Avery Abernethy, 28 October 2015


Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are military science fiction leaning towards hard science.  Mr. Kloos has served in the military and it shows in his writing.  Both books are in the Frontlines series with the 3rd book Angles of Attack released in April, 2015.

In the Frontlines books Earth has fractured into two factions: the North American Union (dominated by the former USA) and a Russian/Chinese block.  Independent countries either no longer exist or are never mentioned.  The conflict between the two power blocks has an uneasy truce on Earth itself, but all-out war rages for the 100 or so colony worlds accessible through jump gates.


The Earth’s resources are being depleted, the majority of humanity lives in high rise slums with a minimal ration of food, and the proles are restless and becoming lawless.  Part of the military is deployed to maintain minimal order in the high-rise clustered slums while the rest focuses on space colonization and interplanetary war for colonies.  Slum dwellers have a tiny chance of winning a lottery to become colonists on worlds which can minimally support human life through terra-forming.

Andrew Grayson a young, high-rise slum dweller, wins a 100-1 shot to join the military.  Terms of Enlistment focuses on setting up the dystopian world and the harsh basic training that washes out 80% of the inductees.  Andrew’s first posting is in the military division tasked with keeping order in the slum cities.  After a few initial conflicts, Andrew’s unit is thrust into a disastrous mission which decimates his unit and generates bad publicity through use of heavy weapons in an urban environment.

Book Review: Strands of Sorrow

A Review of Strands of Sorrow by John Ringo

By Avery Abernethy, 28 January 2015

Strands of Sorrow is the 4th and (claimed by the author) final book in Ringo’s Zombie Apocalypse series.  Wolf Squadron has manufactured the vaccination to the zombie apocalypse virus and has inoculated all of the US Navy crewmen on submarines. But everyone who became a zombie will stay a zombie. So almost all of the world’s population is either a zombie or was eaten by zombies.

With several thousand US servicemen, the US military, with civilian support, starts the initial operations to take back North America.  They start with some isolated military bases and eventually fight to retake Camp Lejeune in North Carolina – one of the primary training bases for the US Marine Corps. This starts an entertaining side story about the living hell of staying in US Marine Basic Training for almost a full year, unable to leave due to the zombie hordes. This leads to Ringo’s take on the difference between training officers, combat officers, and logistics officers.

Book Review: Islands of Rage and Hope

A Review of Islands of Rage and Hope by John Ringo

Avery Abernethy, 12 November 2014


Islands of Rage and Hope is the third novel in John Ringo’s intelligent zombie apocalypse series.  Steven Smith (Wolf), his wife, and daughters Sophia and Faith (Seawolf and Shewolf) have continued to build their flotilla in the Atlantic.  The novel starts with Wolf Squadron’s attack on the bare remnants of the US military forces at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  The hope of Wolf Squadron, which now leads the largest surviving contingent of US military forces in operation, is capturing enough of the right medical equipment to start large scale manufacture of a vaccine against the zombie drug.  If vaccine production can be restarted, then the crews of US nuclear submarines can be turned into an effective land fighting force.


Just after I finished reading this book, a scary new twist in the real-world Ebola virus gripped much of the world.  Two medical missionaries infected with Ebola were flow back from Africa to nearby Atlanta and hopefully cured.  This real world episode framed Ringo’s coverage of the manufacture of a vaccine for a deadly disease in an uncomfortably real perspective.  Much of the discussion of how to isolate a vaccine, the risks of various vaccines, and the production speed of vaccine covered in the book is now in the pages of newspapers world-wide.

Book Review: To Sail a Darkling Sea

A Review of To Sail a Darkling Sea by John Ringo

By Avery Abernethy, 5 March 2014

To Sail a Darkling Sea is the second book by John Ringo in the Dark Tide Rising series.  A zombie apocalypse has been released in the modern world by an unknown group of individuals.  The Smith family, composed of an ex-military father, a mom with an engineering background, and two daughters under the age of sixteen are practical survivalists.  [Stop reading here if you want to avoid spoilers about book one].

At the end of book one the father had reconnected with the tattered remains of US national command authority.  The family spearheaded an effort to clean zombies off of ships in the Atlantic and gradually gather survivors.  The Smiths and a small number of others in the ragtag fleet were immunized against the Zombie plague.  The long run plan was to secure Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where there should be enough equipment to resume making the anti-zombie plague serum.  If serum production is restarted, then the members of the US Navy in uncontaminated attack submarines can be added to the meagre US military forces attempting to retake Earth from the zombie hordes.

The book starts with the “fleet” freeing small towns and ships in the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa.  The group traveled to this region to avoid the Caribbean hurricane season and engaged in the first land battles against the zombies, where they attempted to free small, geographically isolated towns on these tiny islands from the mindless horde.

Companion Reading for Rome 2 – Total War

Looking for some more history in your gaming?  Want to get the backstory on all those pixels you’re pushing around?

Lloyd Sabin – February 10, 2014

Since I was a kid, I have always coupled my gaming with my reading. I think a lot of people do this, but as I have gotten older, it is rare that I read anything that isn’t directly or indirectly tied to what I am currently playing on the PC. Finally, after years of trying to combat this clear OCD-like behavior, I have given up and am going to attempt to do something productive with this quirk.

This first installment is focused on Rome 2: Total War and what I have read, and will be reading, while playing through my Iceni campaign. The Iceni are one of the stronger tribes located in Britannia and the British Isles. In my current campaign I currently hold all of Great Britain, including Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and have made significant progress in northwest Europe, particularly in Gaul. When not attempting to advance on the front and boost Iceni technological and military prowess, I have read the following title, with a few more on deck.

Imperial Governor – The Great Novel of Boudicca’s Revolt by George Shipway

Imperial Governor is the first title I cracked open for companion reading during my Iceni campaign. The title character, Paulinus, is instantly believable as he describes in detail his work in building up Britannia from a backward, swampy outpost to an integral part of the growing Roman Empire. He is a military man through and through, with little patience for insubordination and even less patience for treachery.

Imperial Governor has some great descriptive writing and paints mental imagery of a dark, foreboding, dangerous Britannia, crawling with hostile tribes. Boudicca herself does make a memorable entrance, but because Paulinus does not view her as anything more than scum most details are left out. This book is focused mainly on the Roman response and does it well, guiding the reader through a dense series of battles as well as providing a good order of battle on both sides, including the Celtic tribes aligned with the Iceni and the Roman legions and auxiliaries involved. There are also vivid descriptions of Roman military equipment, architecture and even food, producing a rich historical backdrop for the conflict.

A good part of Imperial Governor also covers Paulinus’ responsibility to both Rome and Britannia once he has put the revolt down, with little mercy. With almost all of Britannia destroyed, it is up to Paulinus to repair the damage, eliminate any remaining threat to Roman power in Britain, and also protect himself and his career from the subsequent fallout. Also keep an eye out for several historical characters with whom you may be familiar, especially if you enjoy Roman history.

Imperial Governor is a blunt and realistic title that doesn’t mince words, just like Paulinus himself. With a cunning, highly intelligent protagonist, some great descriptive writing and excellent battle scenes, George Shipway’s classic proved to be a great companion piece to my Rome 2 Iceni campaign. If interested, the author’s own life makes for some pretty good reading as well. Imperial Governor was his first novel.

Some other titles that I have on the night stand ready to go for more local color include: