Series: Frontlines (#7)
Genre: Military SF
Publication Date: 07/12/2020
Four years have passed since the Lankies were driven out of Earth’s solar system, and Andrew Grayson feels the worst may be behind him. But war has a way of pulling you back in, and Grayson soon finds himself agreeing to a top-secret mission deep into Lankie territory . . .
With Points of Impact having wrapped up the first major conflict between aliens and humanity, I assumed that the Frontlines series was done and dusted. Kloos moving on to his Palladium Wars series all but confirmed that theory. But then, at the tail end of last year, I noticed that a seventh Frontlines book had appeared on Amazon’s listings. It’s a direct continuation of the first six, albeit with a marginal time jump, and from what I can tell is the first of a new trilogy chronicling the exploits of Andrew Grayson. There’s no release dates for volumes two and three as yet, but I’m keeping an eye out.
Once again, we’re deep in the first-person, present tense with Grayson our only eyes and ears. This technique, along with the fairly brief page count, make for an immediate and gripping read. That being said, the pace is a little slower than I’ve come to expect of Kloos, reflecting the peacetime setting of this particular novel. The first half of the book is largely uneventful, serving to introduce the new status quo, and a cast of new characters. Once the mission begins, however, the action kicks up substantially, and we’re back in familiar Kloos territory. Danger and peril abound!
One thing to remember about Kloos’ writing is that the man knows his military terminology. Obviously this brings a sense of realism to the book, with soldiers acting and speaking like soldiers. But in the writing itself it can break the flow. Kloos (or rather the military) is fond of acronyms, and strings of block capitals jump out from every other page. Most of the time, the acronyms are explained, and I could keep track of the majority. Some of the time though, I just saw blocks of letters and moved on with my life. The attention to detail is appreciated, but I think a glossary you could flick to on occasion would be incredibly useful. Other than this small criticism, however, Kloos’ prose is lean, economic, and fires on all cylinders. It’s the sort of book you could breeze through in a free afternoon, and would enjoy all the while.
With its cliffhanger ending, Orders of Battle is evidently setting up the next book(s). That’s no bad thing, but it does leave you hanging. Not such an issue when you know when the next volume will arrive, but impatient readers may want to wait before getting back into the Frontlines series. As a foundation for further adventures, Orders of Battle does everything it sets out to do, but this does come at the cost of feeling a little incomplete in places.
Honestly though, the flaws are minor, and this is a welcome return to a familiar setting, and i greatly anticipate the next book, whenever that may arrive.