Terms of Enlistment - a slow start to a good series.

Posted by Lore on Fri, 05/13/2016 - 16:33

The Frontlines series introduces us to a bleak future that offers little hope to those born in the overcrowded cities of the North American Commonwealth. Most large American cities are now government run slums called PRCs (Public Residence Clusters) and this is the life Andrew Grayson is born into. Andrew and his parents live on welfare and since he has no intention of inheriting such a limited existence from his parents he opts for the only choice that appears to be a brighter future - he joins the Armed Forces. After all, if he makes it through boot camp then he will have a consistent paycheck and even an outside shot at leaving Earth by being assigned to the Navy. That has to be better than living in a PRC...

Andrew quickly learns that the promise of a better life in the military comes with many strings attached and that he is just a small cog in a giant machine. A machine that lacks a moral compass and serves interests other than his own. The reader will follow Andrew from enlistment through boot camp and then on through his first couple of military assignments. His experiences are varied and complicated but unfortunately Andrew never really establishes much of a personality for himself as he mostly just goes along for the ride. He does what he needs to do to survive every step of the way, only occasionally pausing to think about the right or wrong of his actions. This is likely an accurate representation of what happens to many soldiers and despite his passivity Andrew's future persona is being formed by these experiences. 

Marko Kloos creates a futuristic world with interesting technology and a plausible military structure. His future is a mix of poverty and technology with Earth's overpopulation central to the struggles of most. For those living on Earth, leaving the planet for one of humanity's other colonies is a dream that only a few will be able to achieve. Despite mankind's ability to travel between stars, we are still heavily invested in fighting amongst ourselves when we predictably run into a hostile alien race. Then the story really begins to open up and the setup is over. So while this book is somewhat standard military sci-fi it does build the foundation for a rather interesting series. This book is followed by Lines of Departure, Angles of Attack, and Chains of Command all of which are more interesting as they leverage all the background context built in this one. There are also 2 short stories available as well, Lucky Thirteen and Measures of Absolution. As long as you are willing to go more than one book into the series then this one is worth picking up.

For audiobook fans, the excellent narrator Luke Daniels does his usual good job on all of the novels but the short stories are currently unavailable in audiobook format.