Heinlein and Haldeman meet Jesus

Here’s a book review I posted on Amazon:

Knox’s Irregulars tells the story of Randal Knox, a corporal and fire team leader in the New Genevan Defense Force, who finds himself trapped behind enemy lines with a handful of survivors of a disastrous battle. The enemy, the Abkhenazi, have overrun the New Genevan line and now threaten to destroy the whole army.

The two nations share a colony world but differ in religion and politics. The New Genevans, products of a Second Reformation of the Christian church, are Calvinists. The Abkhenazi follow either a Muslim heresy or a Muslim-like new religion and want to impose theocratic rule over the New Genevans.

After escaping the Abkhenazi army, Knox’s group reaches the occupied city of Providence and makes contact with partisan groups hiding in tunnels beneath the city. Most of the story describes his efforts to scale his army up from a few survivors to a company-sized force that integrates professional soldiers and civilian guerillas.

Any reader familiar with Heinlein’s Starship Troopers or Haldeman’s The Forever War will recognize the powered armor of this story. But most of Knox’s Irregulars don’t have powered armor; they have only a few suits that they must use sparingly. And this story also portrays the necessary details a partisan force must handle: feeding the army, creating a civilian spy network in the city, using a mere handful of real soldiers to train their civilian recruits.

The author creates crisply portrayed, likable characters, believable battle scenes, and a clear overall point of view. Some reviewers have called the book “preachy” because of the main characters’ explicit Christianity. Admittedly, when these people talk about their spiritual lives they sound like 21st century American evangelicals. But the book reads like a story about Christians written by a Christian and not like an evangelistic tract. Anyone who cannot abide the religiosity of this story will probably feel uncomfortable with any portrayal of religion as a normal part of life. (If you want preachy, go back and reread Starship Troopers!)

Apparently this is J. Wesley Bush’s first novel. With that in mind, it gets five stars.


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