Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: The Kildaran by Adam Gaffen and Richard Evans

Guest post by Chris Nuttall.
It is rather curious that while I normally like John Ringo’s writing, Ghost was the only book of his that I couldn't really get into.  By around CH7 of the first part of the novel, my sense of the absurd was overpowering my suspension of disbelief and I gave up.  But then I read Book Two and found myself hooked.  The Paladin of Shadows series is politically incorrect, strongly short, very much like James Bond.  Mike Harmon, former SEAL, is just what every man wants to be.

The series is set in an alternate universe of sorts, where a tribe of families – the Kildar – live in a mountain settlement in Georgia (the country, not the state).  In Book Two, Mike accidentally becomes their leader and starts training them up as proper warriors.  This expands rapidly through the next three books, with the families eventually serving as a Special Operations force closely allied to the US military, battling terrorists, insurgents, criminals...and saving the world on more than one occasion.  John doesn’t sugar-coat anything; the villains are very evil, the barbaric habits and customs of certain cultures are illustrated, along with the result of criminal activities like drug trafficking and sexual slavery.

Part of the charm of the series lies in the Kildar themselves.  At first, they appear to be just another tribe in a barbaric and deeply corrupt country.  As the series continues to expand, however, they reveal surprising depths – and their origins, drawn from a lost tribe of Vikings.  (This isn't entirely impossible.  There are suggestions that Romans, captured in Persia, eventually ended up in China.)  Some of their customs are thoroughly odd, but just right to appeal to the readers.  One example is a form of ‘bride price,’ with the bride selling her virginity to Mike for her dowry.  And even that has deeper implications...

One of the most important characters in the series is Katrina, a young girl who Mike rescued right back at the start of Book Two.  Unsurprisingly, she fell in love with him; surprisingly, Mike didn't move in on her at once.  Katrina set her sights on becoming the Kildaran, the wife of the Kildar, and was working towards it when John Ringo put the series on hiatus.

Adam Gaffen and Richard Evens, however, have continued the series with The Kildaran.  With Mike settling into a kind of domestic life in the village, complete with harem, Katrina finally makes her move, convincing him to marry her.  In the meantime – because it wouldn't be the same without a B-Plot – several nukes have gone missing in Russia and one of them might be on the way to the village.  Another seems to be heading for Moscow...which is a problem, because Mike and Putin have clashed once before and Putin wants him dead.

As Mike allows his relationship with Katrina to grow and develop, the teams scramble to hunt down the nukes before they can be deployed, unaware that a deadly shadow from the past has returned to take revenge on Mike – and one of his most trusted allies.

I wrote two books set in one of John Ringo’s universes, but Adam and Richard took on a much harder task, using John Ringo’s characters.  I can offer no higher praise than to say that all of the characters sound right, very much like their original versions.  Even the ones who have grown up over the novel (and previous books) show very definite links to the past, particularly Katya.  It is a rare fan fiction writer who manages to mimic the original style so well, but this book definitely succeeds.

Like the books written by John Ringo in this universe, the novel is delightfully and outrageously over the top.  Beautiful women, cool gadgets, villains who thoroughly deserve every bad thing that happens to them, a complete lack of political correctness...

What more do you want?

The Kildaran can be downloaded for free from Smashwords. Or you can visit the author’s blog and download the first five books from Baen.

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Chris Nuttall blogs at The Chrishanger and has a website by the same name. His books can be found on Amazon Kindle. Check out his new book The Royal Sorceress.

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