The debut novel from Marko Kloos, Terms of Enlistment is a new addition to the great military sci-fi tradition of Robert Heinlein, Joe Haldeman, and John Scalzi.
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By Andrew John Rae on 09-02-14
Military SciFi in Classic Style
Terms of Enlistment is a newly written but old-school military science fiction novel. It follows the protagonist, Andrew Grayson, from high-rise slums through book camp, a combat infantry posting, and then out into space. The tone and style are similar to Robert Henlein's Starship Troopers or Jerry Pournelle's Co-Dominium. The action is up-close and personal, set in a universe where government isn't perfect, conflict isn't clean, and the military gets to play hero on a small scale whilst the overall morality of the conflicts they take part in is constantly questionable.
At least in this first book of the series, the action is well above average for the genre. In any fire-fight it is easy to visualise where everyone is and what is happening. The technology is plausible, and is never used as a get-out-of-jail-free card by the author.
The main character is likeable without being super-human. He is no author-avatar with perfect military skills and likeable flaws. He is just a young, impulsive enlisted soldier.
The secondary characterisation is below par for a novel. Whilst Kloos does a fantastic job of "show, don't tell" with army life and the background political unrest and intrigue, friendships and even romances just appear out of nowhere. After a major plot-turning firefight, most of the casualties are really just names to the reader despite their importance to the main character.
The plot arc isn't well structured either - although I think this is really an artefact of the way the series was written. I get the impression this is an episodic series broken arbitrarily into novel length portions, in which case the first half of the novel is really establishment of the series plot rather than the novel. If considered as a single novel the initiating event comes around 3/4 of the way through the book. Up till then it's a good read, but it comes as a surprise to find that it's all really just scene setting.
These issues aren't enough to spoil the book. Go into it imagining that you're listening to the first 10 episodes of a 5 season audio show, and they become style rather than problems. I'm certainly going to give the second book a try based on the first.
The audio performance by Luke Daniels is okay, but I imagine it might irritate some people. He has an overly-dramatic tone which rolls consonants and stretches vowels. This suits the book, but is a bit wearing on the ears. He does voices prettty well, at least for the main characters. It's hard to imagine him as actual voice of the first-person narrator though, which takes it a star down from the really top notch audio book performances.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Matthew on 05-10-16
Sci-fi hoorah at its best.
This is a set up book. It start how you would expect. But the universe the book paint is pretty cool. I like it. A lot of sci-fi you have to have a good amount of suspension of disbelief for how the earth gets to it current situation. This one you could see it happening on a way. Other than the aliens the size of a three stories building or where they bigger? If you read all four of the current books you will find that you forget about this book in a good way. So much happens in the next three. This is a good book but a better series.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By DAVE on 11-02-14
Solid military sci-fi.
Any additional comments?
I enjoyed this book. It was a solid showing for a first book and a good lead into a series. The author has an interesting view point of humanity and the future. Kloos does a good job of balancing the tech. So many authors go over the top on tech to the point of drowning out the story. There is enough tech here to keep you interested. The characters were not over the top. I like books that make almost ordinary people into the center of the story. They were believable and I was able to relate to them easily. I enjoyed the boot camp part and it brought back a lot of memories for me. The narrator was easy to listen to and different characters were distinguishable. I would be interested in other books this narrator performed in.
58 of 64 people found this review helpful
By Ron T on 14-11-16
Good, not great Military Sci-Fi
Kloos has a written an enjoyable book that is performed well by Luke Daniels. It is not in the same category as Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series (at least the first ten books of that series), but the characters are likable, and the plot line believable. This strictly a setup for the ongoing series, there is no attempt to reconcile any of the threads. But the price was right, and it was good enough that I'll get the second book.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful