Virtues of War – Bennet R. Coles
Title: Virtues of War
Series: Astral Saga
Author: Bennett R. Coles
Author Location: Victoria, BC
Publisher: Promontory Press
Publication Date: August 2010
Back Cover Copy
The light of Sirius shines too brightly on its worlds…
Known for centuries as the Dog Star, it is rumoured to slowly instill madness into the human colonists who settled there. Ships of the Terran Astral Force have maintained watch over this troublesome system for years, but now a new threat is looming, from an enemy no-one expected to be hiding in plain sight.
A pilot stuck in a job he never wanted.
A platoon commander desperate to prove herself.
A ship captain keen for promotion.
An intelligence operative with her own agenda.
The crew of the Fast-Attack Craft Rapier is trained for pinpoint planetary strikes and hostile boardings: as a team they are ruthless and effective. But the people of the Dog Star are equally ruthless, fighting for a cause the Terrans don’t understand. Innocuous events compound to see Rapier’s crew down an uncertain path, forcing trials upon each of them that threaten everything they hold dear.
I’ll admit it: military sci-fi is not my favourite SF sub-genre. However, this book came highly recommended to me by a local independent bookstore owner. The author is another BC local, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give military sci-fi another chance.
While this book didn’t make me suddenly fall in love with military sci-fi, I was quite pleased with Coles’ novel. The storyline was heavily military, but the narrative focused on in-depth character relationships and development—I really felt like I knew these characters.
The story follows four main characters: Katja, Jack, Thomas, and Breeze. Each of these four characters is extremely well developed and follows their own arc throughout the book. I was conflicted constantly while reading Virtues of War because my opinions of each main character changed as they acted and reacted to the events around them.
The thing I liked most about this book is that there was not one character you were clearly supposed to root for above the others. They all had faults and they all had virtues (ha!) and I had positive and negative reactions to each of them.
As great as the characters are, I sometimes felt the book was hard to follow because of its use of acronyms. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to read this book, and whenever I picked it up again I had a hard time remembering what most of the acronyms stood for because there were so many. Perhaps this is common in military sci-fi as the acronyms were all related to the type of jobs people were performing, so it’s possible if you’re well versed in military sci-fi this wouldn’t bother you.
Virtues of War didn’t make me love military sci-fi, but it’s definitely a great read for those who enjoy the sub-genre (it’s award-winning, too!).
Ellen is a freelance fiction editor, book reviewer, research assistant for Simon Fraser University, marketing coordinator for WCSFA, and member volunteer for Editors’ Association of Canada. As of September 2017, she will also be a master’s student of publishing at SFU. You can contact her via ellenmichelle.com for any editing queries and at firstname.lastname@example.org for book review queries.