Read A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo Online


With Earth in the path of the rapacious Posleen, the peaceful and frindly races of the Galactic Federation offer their resources to help the backward Terrans- for a price. Humanity now has three worlds to defend. As Earth's armies rush into battle and special operations units scout alien worlds, the humans begin to learn a valuable lesson: you can protect yourself from youWith Earth in the path of the rapacious Posleen, the peaceful and frindly races of the Galactic Federation offer their resources to help the backward Terrans- for a price. Humanity now has three worlds to defend. As Earth's armies rush into battle and special operations units scout alien worlds, the humans begin to learn a valuable lesson: you can protect yourself from your enemies but may the lord save you from your allies.About the AuthorJohn Ringo had visited 23 countries and attended 14 schools by the time he had graduated high school. This left him with a wonderful appreciation of the oneness of humanity and permanent aversionto foreign food. He chose to study marine biology and really liked it. Unfortunately the pay was for beans. So now he manages a quality control database and the pay is much better. He hopes to someday upgrade to SQL Server. At that point life will be complete....

Title : A Hymn Before Battle
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780671318413
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 480 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

A Hymn Before Battle Reviews

  • Stephen
    2019-03-16 17:23

    MILITARY SF that hits the G-SPOT and causes a FULL ON HAPPY!! Interesting POLITICS, unique ALIEN CULTURES, intelligent PLOTTING, engaging CHARACTERS...oh yeah, and lots and lots of: 4.5 stars. I’ve said before that I like military SF, but it is not the sub-genre that I intend to settle down with and spend the rest of my life. Therefore, I am fairly prudish and selective about the books I engage with in this category. Well book bachelors and bachelorettes, this book is definitely ROSE WORTHY as it is among the best military science fiction I have ever come across. The reason I don’t read much military SF is that it is usually lacking in creative world-building/back story, interesting aliens and cultures and three dimensional characters. These are all things I enjoy. This book does a righteous job of being a high octane, shoot em’ up battle saga while at the same time introducing and setting up the series with a kick-glute back-story, some unique alien cultures and a highly evolved political dynamic. BACK STORY:The novel concerns humanity being recruited by a Galactic Federation of alien races in order to assist them in battling a powerful and belligerent race known as the Posleen. Most of the other alien races are extreme pacifists with no ability to engage in warfare despite their high degree of technology and intelligence (kind of buying in the theory that once a culture reaches a certain level of technology and growth, they are more likely to be peaceful). Thus, they want to recruit humanity, with all of our saucy, neat-o-rrific killing skills, to get our WAR ON and be their soldiers***. ***Note: This is very similar in theme to A Call to Arms by Alan Dean Foster. As for as the aliens, the Galactic Federation is made up of some pretty interesting societies which include:Darhel: The bankers and de facto rulers of the GalFed who may not be as nice guyish as they would have the humans believe….Hey just like on Earth, Indowy: The engineers and technicians who supply most of the equipment and technology to the GalFed, Tchpth: The philosophers and scientists of the federation; and Himmit: An extremely secretive race that may be MUCH more powerful than they let on. I thought the descriptions of the aliens and their “less than altruistic” motives and political maneuvering made for interesting reading and added a depth to the story that is sorely lacking in other books of the genre. In addition, the Posleen make really nasty bad guys which makes for a better story. They are described as large, reptilian centaurs that are bred to fight and mentally controlled by a select number of powerful “God Kings” which make up the ruling hierarchy of the society. Somewhat reminiscent of the “bugs” from both Ender’s Game and Starship Troopers. Overall, I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading the sequel. While having all of the extensive discussions of tactics and training and battle details that are the hallmarks of military SF, the narrative managed to stay engaging, fun and compelling with a wonderful back story. Highly Recommended!!!

  • Matt
    2019-02-27 21:02

    In full disclosure, I've bumped into the author a couple of times online as we have certain interests in common. I hope he remains willing to talk to me after this review.The biggest problem with the book is that it’s not really to my taste. Along with Jerry Pournelle, John Ringo is one of the main figures in the pulp military science fiction. You might think that's right up my alley, but really not so much. I just can't get into it. Whether it denounces the horrors of war or it glamorizes the glory or war or even just promotes the necessity of martial virtue, I just have a hard time getting into war fiction. I can and sometimes do enjoy it, but never at the level of light reading that the 'pulp' style promotes.I didn't have a lot of problem reading 'A Hymn Before Battle'. The prose is reasonably good and the story is fast moving and generally quickly paced. But on the other hand, while it wasn't painful to read neither could I really enjoy it or get excited by it. There were just too many problems in the way. Sure, the characterization was generally shallow, but that's to be expected of pulp fiction. The bigger problem I had was with the ultra-technology, which is both over the top and not at all well realized in my opinion. The actual implications of technology like hand held missile launchers that can reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, hand held surface to orbital weapons and so forth just didn't seem well considered. In particular, it is a well known dictum of military theory that the more lethal the weapon the further the units must be dispersed when in battle. But the tactics of the book seem more rooted in modern tactics at best and at worst table top ancient war gaming than in anything actually implied by consideration of the theoretical technology. It was like reading 'Ender's Game' where Ender never realized that "the enemies gate was down", and instead defeated his enemies by inventing formations. There are large numbers of instances where the technology seems to possess the power of plot. We can tell the protagonist from the expendable red shirts because their ultratech battlesuits provide only a tiny fraction of the protection granted to main characters. Ordinary humans end up surviving things that would kill most superheroes outright, and I couldn't for a second believe the technology and not the writer was what saved the protagonist. At one point, a main character survives a 10 megaton explosion from a distance of 30 meters.Additionally, the story has a bad case of the 'Humans are Special' trope which is exaggerated to such a degree it’s just about monkey ego porn. Now, in this Ringo is hardly the only science fiction author at fault, as we can site similar instances by Niven, Brin, and others (otherwise it wouldn’t be a trope). However, in 'A Hymn before Battle' the 'Humans are Special' trope is achieved by making all the other races in the galaxy fundamentally flawed to such an incredible degree it feels like humanity versus the galaxy's special ed. Students. In ‘A Hymn before Battle’, every other species in the galaxy is riding the short bus, and at best could be considered a sort of idiot savant. But even worse, the idiot savant warrior race isn't even particularly good at it.The non-linear structure does nothing really to enhance the story. The backstory it provides isn't really interesting enough to serve as a story on it's own, and the non-linear structure seems little more than the author's recognition of that. The only reason to shuffle the story around is to parcel out the boring parts into smaller peices.The story isn't all bad and there are some juicy hints of cleverly crafted interstellar intrigue that are likely to play out in the sequels, but there isn't enough here that is consistently good to make me want to slog through the sequels for the big payoff - especially when I have some pretty good ideas about what some of those big payoffs are going to be.

  • Mr. Matt
    2019-03-24 22:04

    There is no leap of imagination, no stretch that I could make, no possible way that I could rank this as anything other than a solid three star book. Don't get me wrong. This book falls solidly in the "fun" category. I picked it up for free on Amazon and had low expectations. (No idea why). And I enjoyed every damn minute of it. It was a guilty pleasure. The premise is pretty straight forward. It is the near future (well, actually 2000) and aliens have arrived on Earth. Yay! Unfortunately, they bring some really bad news. Another alien race - very warlike and savage carnivores - will be here in five years too. The other galactic races are very peaceful. They need the primitive humans to fight off the Polseen. Veterans are called up, the nations of Earth gear up for war and there ya' go. In just a few pages we're on alien planets fighting it out with the bad guys.The whole thing just kind of works - if you like your military SF. There are plenty of guns, plasma rays, missiles, bombs, mech-suits, space ships, etc. And the bad guys are a bad guy we can all get behind. They want to kill and eat all other sentient species. Finally! We can truly feel good about blowing this enemy away. When they die by the tens of thousands it is a good thing!So why not more than three stars? Not entirely sure. I think maybe it has to do with the barrage of semi-developed characters that I had a hard time keeping track of, the stereotypical bad commanding officers, the overdone gun-love, and the almost laughable plot line. Still, I really enjoyed it. Worth the read if you enjoy your military SF and blasting away super bad aliens! To go beyond three stars I just want a little bit more.Now, back to my mech-suit. There are more Polseen to kill.

  • Dirk Grobbelaar
    2019-03-18 17:28

    ”War! What is it good for?”Military Science Fiction does come to mind…A Hymn Before Battle is the first in the Posleen War saga. The series is also referred to as the Legacy of the Aldenata, which has a nice ring to it. In essence, it’s all about war. The aliens are coming! This theme, of course, isn’t new. Not by a long shot. There are different aliens involved too, some are nicer than others. Some are treacherous. Some are just plain evil. Not having much of a choice (with Earth being next on the menu), humans are pulled into the war on the side of the Galactic Federation, who are being owned by the Posleen in a war of rather extreme proportions. Thankfully, the bad guys in this instance are not bugs. Wow! So, long story short, humans get handed some nice tech and are sent into the far reaches of space to bite some heel and… guess what? It seems we are better at making war than other aliens in general. Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Mild sarcasm aside, the book is actually pretty darn cool. It has all the tropes, of course. Such as: the top brass in the military are criminally incompetent and short sighted. Sigh. This really does make one wonder about the state of the US military. There is power armour of course. The ACS suits, as they’re called, are really cool, so if you’re a Halo (or other mil-SF with heavy suits) fan you might want to feast your intellect on these.In the end, the story is far from over. The main arc plays out over four novels. The novel takes some time setting up the back story and introducing the players, but when the action starts is as compelling as you would expect from cutting edge military SF.Now: I didn’t want to make a comment about the cover design of this novel. Who wants to be a nasty bastard all the time? However, since I know that some people will be giving this a skip based on the cover (to say nothing about the sequel: Gust Front) I should probably just, at the very least, say the following: don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s not that the art is bad, or anything, it just doesn’t seem to suit the epic-ness of the novel at all.

  • Tina
    2019-03-19 15:20

    This, the first book in a series focusing on the character Michael O'Neal, is perhaps the best of them. It provided me with some hours of amusement, and for that alone it deserve its score.The problem, as with the rest of the series, is that of Weberisms, so named in my mind after David Weber who - at his worst - tend to do the same. First, infodumps. These are frequent, and detailed; terribly, terribly detailed. So much detail is presented that one get the impression that a publishing agent has asked for "more! more!" and got his wish. In military SF there is, of course, a requirement for some bits and pieces on technology, strategy and so forth - but it is exaggerated. Contrast this to the in-story dumps done in Tanya Huff's "Confederation" books.Second, the thinly veiled loathing for civilians - much more prominent in later books, but still present here - and particularly civilians on the left of the political spectrum. This, of course, is a writer's perogative, just as it is mine to dislike.

  • Kelsey
    2019-02-24 21:11

    A really good apocalyptic hard sci-fi series. Earth faces alien invasion without time to prepare adequately, and allies who may or may not be trustworthy. The series details the brutal struggle against an encroaching canninbalistic horde, on other planets, in space, and finally on Earth. The series predictably gets darker as it progresses, and it is definitely hard/military sci-fi. The books refer to the R&D, training, and brutal combat involved in the struggle, but also contain vivid characters and well-detailed alien societies, including a view of the attacking civilization and Earth's erstwhile "allies."Highly recommended to fans of hard sci-fi.

  • M Hamed
    2019-03-23 16:15

    ومن الجدير بالذكر ان واحد من نخبة النخبة في الجيش الامريكي بيتهته فى الكلام و تم اختيارة في اخطر مهمة في تاريخ البشريةو من الجدير بالذكر ايضا ان عصام حجي خد اعفاء من الجيش عشان بيتهته فى الكلام

  • Contrarius
    2019-02-27 16:17

    I invested 7 hours (out of a total 14 hours) in this one but finally gave up. Boooooooooooring.In the entire first half of the book there is precisely ONE firefight, which lasts all of about two minutes in the audio version. The rest of that 7 hours is mostly filled with complaining about how most of the officers are incompetent idiots, about how most of the military industrial complex is corrupt and self-serving, about how even the races that the humans are supposed to be saving are trying to screw the humans over, and the noncoms are the only guys in the entire military who can actually get things done.Yeah, life is too short. This may end up getting interesting eventually, but I've got better things to do.

  • Michael
    2019-03-15 21:29

    This book sucks. It's like it was written by a 7th grade boy who really, really likes the military. Boring and unbelievable. Good thing I got it for free.

  • Dan
    2019-02-25 21:23

    05-18-17 re-read. Very good, even for the 3rd time.

  • Andreas
    2019-03-22 19:13

    Alien invasion stories have been done before, but to my knowledge never quite with this much desperation, lack of hope, or heroism on the part of the defenders. This is rich military SF with a keen eye for the strategic dimension and human psychology as well as kick-ass fun. The “original” series consists of the following. * A Hymn Before Battle * Gust Front * When the Devil Dances * Hell’s FaireThe first novel is a sort of “eve of the war” story. I was put off by the cover for quite a while but eventually decided to give it a shot. Good thing too. Aliens have contacted Earth and told them of an ongoing war, and that the Posleen, a very powerful race with a behavior like a cannibalistic Mongol horde, is only five years out from Earth. The Galactics will help, if humans help them fight. The other races are pacifistic in the extreme. There is action (of course) in the form of skirmishes and the defence of an allied planet, and we are introduced to Mike O’Neal, later leader of an elite Armed Combat Suit unit and the main hero of the story.The second novel covers the assault on Earth. As before, Ringo has a knack for describing the political and strategic dimensions, and is not afraid of throwing disastrous screwups, unexpected developments and plain old bad luck into the mix. The United States is hunkering down, but the question is: Will the line hold for the defenders to marshal their forces?The third novel of the series is a middle book to bridge the gap between the first Posleen assault on Earth (covered in “Gust Front”) and the climactic conclusion to the war (covered in “Hell’s Faire”). Characters are developed and the stage is set for a whopping showdown. The action scenes are great, as in all Ringo’s work, and the humor just keeps getting better. It’s quite ironic that a story about alien invasion and massive destruction, suffering and pain can make me laugh out loud so much. Ringo is good at capturing the inner essence of characters. This three-dimensionality is welcome, and few authors pull it off so well. He is also very good at developing his characters as they go through events in their lives. Masterful.The fourth novel picks up exactly where When the Devil Dances left off. In the afterword, Ringo says that the last two should only have been one, but 9/11 gave him serious writer’s block and plans had to change. He even suggests gluing them together. The conclusion is very exciting and satisfying. While many loose ends are tied up, other fundamental questions about the various aliens, which were only hinted at in the earlier books, are now dredged up and given new focus. Why didn’t the Galactics warn Earth earlier? Why did they give intelligence to the Posleen? To answer these questions the Universe is already much expanded, with several more novels written solo and in collaboration.

  • Rion
    2019-03-25 16:07

    I can't help but feel a little guilty for enjoying much of this book. The level of Misogyny was palpable at first then the buddy action war story begins after it effectively kills off the only female in the story, other than the nagging wife. The alien descriptions were laughable. I had a hard time picturing what the enemy looked like without scratching my head. Basically we were given the image of a minotaur with a crocodile head and raptor talons? Only reason I can think of for enjoying such a work? "Die Hard"! Yes there is an over the top quality to the constant action and dialog. When there wasn't action, well that's when everything collapsed and I found myself zoning out, or worse getting angry at the politics. Luckily action was never too far away and the military critique had a Catch-22 quality to it, mostly in regards to the stupidity within the military hierarchy command structure and bureaucratic decision making that hinders military effectiveness and disregards life. Yes Ringo's writing in this book is extremely socially Darwinian, which is problem. Remember the Nazi's? Trampling the weak and survival of the fittest is not the answer. It's almost like Ringo is saying in order to defeat your enemy, you must become more ruthless than them. He even begins justifying the use of WMD's as a strength that humanity brings to the table. Rock 'Em Sock 'Em ' Shoot 'Em Up baby, with some added lyrics of oh I forgot the songs he had the solders listening to while butchering the retarded Posleen's, controlled by God King's dispersed between the mass's of mostly infantry. I suppose the Posleen are the pulpiest element. I'll also mention that it's probably never good when the best written elements of your book are quotes from another author. In this case is Kipling's eloquence that was dispersed throughout this book that made me wonder why I didn't just go read some of his poetry at times. And yet the allusions did help a bit and the American pop cultural add-ins are probably why I seen people include this as pulpy. After all this shit talking, why do I feel the need to read the next installment? I guess it's like the "Private Parts" quote:"Pig Vomit: But... if they hate him, why do they listen? Researcher: Most .... do they listen? Researcher: Most common answer: "I want to see what he'll say next."."

  • Nate
    2019-03-04 22:23

    Fun if a little uneven first entry in a series about an alien confederation that reaches out to Earth because they’re being conquered and literally eaten by a race of yellow lizard-centaurs called Posleen. Turns out that these races either can’t kill or literally don’t have the ability to, and given that killing shit is kinda humanity’s wheelhouse they logically hit us up for help. Giving us just a tiny bit more motivation to help them out is an impending invasion of Earth by the Posleen. The confederation graciously agrees to hook us up with super-cool combat suits that can do all kinds of awesome shit and their attendant over-the-top firepower like “grav guns” and shoulder-mounted rocket launchers.This is extremely hardcore and detailed military sci-fi as you might have guessed, which honestly got a little bit annoying. The amount of faceless NCOs and soldiers was staggering and there was a lot of unnecessary military routine bullshit, the most glaring piece of which was the entire storyline of Gunnery Sergeant Pappas. Unfortunately, this entire significant section of the book was boring and rote and seemed ultimately kind of pointless. I’m sure Ringo will develop said arc in later entries but to be honest I really don’t even want him to at this point. Setting a story about a dude dealing with frustrating and patience-crushing military bureaucracy and base life against stories about badass recon teams on enemy-held planets gives almost a comedically staccato pace to the entire book, which was a drag.Really nothing to write home about in total, but Ringo’s action scenes are the shit and more importantly, I didn’t pay a fucking cent for this book! Both this and the next title Gust Front are available for free online from Baen (an awesome thing this publisher does) and I gotta be honest, when you’re broke that’s an easy reason to give an extra star, because Everyone Loves Free Shit. I’ll certainly be reading the next book but I’m hoping there’s less of the mind-numbingly boring shit. I will admit that the level of detail does give it a helpful layer of realism that keeps it from becoming too cartoonish and goofy...but it just needs to be integrated more smoothly into the narrative and not just fucking smashed against the reader’s head every couple chapters.

  • Per Gunnar
    2019-02-23 14:11

    I have generally liked the works of John Ringo so far. This one I didn’t really like. The story seemed quite interesting. First contact, Earth is enlisted to help defend the peaceful races of the galaxy, lots to learn, design new weapons etc. Sounded good to me.Well it all slowly turns into a bloody mess. [Minimal spoiler ahead] It turns out that one of the alien races holds all the decision making power over the other ones. These are political vendetta makers which would make the political bullshitters in EC and UN put together green of envy. Despite their part of the galaxy being threatened the literally sabotage the entire war effort to prevent the humans from being “too powerful”.The entire book as just one incompetent officer appointed by equally incompetent politicians, sabotage, fuck-ups, and anything else infuriating and annoying that you can think of after another. And of course a few good men suffering and trying to pick up the shit spreading from more places than the fan.I was arguing with myself whether or not I should give it a single star rating and move it to my rubbish shelf but there were a few chapters in there that made the book worth reading. I am still arguing with myself if I should have a go at the next one in the series. On one hand I didn’t like this one very much but on the other hand I want to see if this obnoxious alien race gets the spanking it deserves and of course if the alien invaders get their butts kicked.

  • Annette
    2019-03-26 21:28

    An impressive middling-hard-sci-fi war novel. Earth gets good news and bad news on the same day. The galaxy is full of sentient life, most of it peaceful and friendly. But the nasty ones are headed our way and will arrive in a bare 5 years! Solution: become the "good guys'" mercenaries. Basically, the federation of peaceful species transfers a boat load of tech and some good interstellar cash to the humans, who use it to build a competitive fighting machine and the men to use it. The hope is that the humans will earn enough money and experience fighting the "Centaurs" to have a fighting chance of defending their own planet a few years down the line. Of course, everything does not go as planned. Ringo in this book reminds me strongly of a less wordy, less idealistic David Weber. Technology is well described, but not exhaustively. Most of the time is spent on character development, and said characters are very well drawn. The plot moves well, and the battle sequences are quite compelling. My sole complaint: it was clear from the get-go that a 350 page book would by no means be capable of developing the entire story. But when I looked up the sequels afterwards, I found there are at least 10! I wasn't quite mentally prepared for that level of commitment! Still, I'm happily reading #2 as we speak... I'll probably make it through them over the next year or so. And most are available as free downloads from Baen.

  • Adam
    2019-02-27 22:30

    A bit jumpy, and mildly entertaining. Insufficient character development, excellent military empathy.The deeper into the book I got, the more I empathized with the main characters. I found myself cursing under my breath at the politicians, the underhanded dealings, the insecure, power-mongering higher-ranked military personnel and the questionable motives of our new alien benefactors. The author does an excellent job in portraying the foolishness that costs lives, the greed that takes lives, and the ego, arrogance and apathy that destroys us all from the top (ranked) on down.The tech in the book is very fun. I had a hard time picturing most of the races and the tech from the author's descriptions. That ended up being a boon, though because it forced me to focus more on the strife of military personnel being hampered in every way by higher ranks, material, training, egos, politicians, money, and the innumerable other things that prevent a soldier from doing his job to his best ability. That said, I am a tech geek, so the unclear details and explanations were still a bit frustrating. What I did get made me excited for--and fearful of--future tech.All-in-all a good read. I'm not buying the book or its successors, but I do have them ordered at the city library.

  • CeAire
    2019-03-19 17:30

    This person definitely has a military background with minute detail included about military organizations and strategies. However, the otherwise very action-packed novel gets lost in that very detail. He not only describes an action (such as lots of liquid traveled through some large plumbing pipes which the characters had to navigate through), but he describes everything from the circumference of pipes (in specific meters) to the volume of liquid (in liters or gallons) that can be passed through them at any given particular place/point in time and how the viscosity of the fluid in question affected the speed and whether it had pressure/current behind it or was simply affected by a specific gravitational pull. It is like he describes a weapon firing but then continues to describe the specifics of the ammunition to include the construction of the primer, the composition of the powder, and the physics involved with sending the projectile down the barrel. Some detail is necessary of course, but when it ceases to be germane to the story it becomes distracting filler. This is the first of a series. I have a later one also. It will be interesting to see if he continues to think he's being paid by the word.

  • Michael Barnette
    2019-03-22 16:31

    I just finished 'A Hymn Before Battle' and I have to say I greatly enjoyed the book.The first half was beyond slow. Not much happened other than character introductions and a lot of people talking, which bugged the crap out of me since it rode along on the rule about never doing 'info dumps' in fiction. The action in the last half more than made up for the slow start/info dumping. Granted it wasn't done like a new author's info dumps, but still... On the other hand, I can understand why Ringo did it, there was a LOT of info needed to set up the series, and this book did that well. (But it was still -slow- reading.)Without giving spoilers, I will say there are character deaths, near deaths and some people you might wish -would- die who don't. (Irritating politicos and others of those ilk.)Some of my favorite--and characters obviously not among the 'main' ones--died, but this is John Ringo, you sort of expect casualties in the story. It's about war, and in war people do die.In summary, great book! If you're a military scifi fan then this is right up there with the 'must reads' in the genre.

  • Ea_colon
    2019-02-27 16:32

    A few years ago I burned myself out on military sci-fi by binge-reading David Weber. I think I still have a rant I wrote about that. I have since been looking of Mil Sci-Fi authors I can stand because the sub-genera itself it very mature and exciting. John Ringo just didn't make the cut. I put the book down about 3/5 of the way through and skimmed to the end. I don't regret it. Saved me a lot of time and told me I wasn't missing anything. Part of the attraction to this book was the enticement that it would have a more than monochrome cast of characters. It didn't deliver. Good guys are at most annoying and bad guys have no redeeming value. No colors at all. A few interesting points not followed up on. The alien's viewpoint. The inter-federation espionage. A few totally trite and overplayed tropes played into. Exhaustive battle tactics nobody can visualize. Introducing characters and killing them expecting us to care.My quest to find a unique MilSciFi continues.

  • Jimmy
    2019-02-28 19:32

    This book is the beginning of the Legacy of the Aldenata. It lays out a very plausible different future for humanity than the path we are on now. Right about the time the global war on terror is starting in our universe, earth finds out that a cannabalistic, carniverous alien race known as the Posleen are on their way to make serve man. On rye with a side of bacon that is. These vicious aliens have advanced technology, a voracious appetite, and they breed like, well rabbits. It will take everything mankind has to stop them. This will also call for a little help from man's newly discovered celestial neighbors. The Galactic Federation. But wait, it turns out the neighbors aren't as benevolent as they first seem either. What ensues is a story that is at turns graphic, violent, hilariously and darkly funny and one of the best damn books (and series) I've ever read.

  • Mike
    2019-03-17 14:06

    An excellent combat series. This guy can write realistic military fiction. He uses the jargon of the military forces with such accuracy, he must be a former soldier. His portrait of the SF mentality is spot-on. The book takes a bit to get going and the science is pretty much skipped over (interstellar travel, galactic weapons tech, etc). But the battle scenes are vivid and how the missions are carried out seem very realistic. Last half of the book is great.

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-02-23 21:02

    Intergalactic politics and a bloody war (yellow blood as well as red...but hey that's variety, right?) Not a bad start.

  • Debrac2014
    2019-03-19 20:26

    Good story line and characters! Parts of the story were too detailed for me!

  • Neil
    2019-02-27 22:27

    This is a crazy book. It is the first book in what has become a multi-volume series, so there is a lot of "world-building" over the course of the book. Most, if not all, of the "primary characters" of the series are introduced in the book, and the author does a decent job if fleshing most of them out. Some of the characters are definitely throwaways, and some of the ones I expected to [hoped would] survive . . . did not. The actual "fighting" does not take place until the end, and when it does, it is exceptionally brutal. The author does a "nice job" with the alien species introduced in the book(view spoiler)[; I found myself despising the Darhel far more than I ever did the Posleen (hide spoiler)]. There are mistakes in the book; mostly misspelled words and some other minor editing issues [one would have thought the editor should have caught]. The mistakes do not distract from the overall narrative, however. It is definitely not a book for everybody, that is for certain.I did not read this when it first came out; it was the cover of the fourth book that really grabbed my attention [mainly because I could swear it had a BOLO on the cover, and I love the BOLO series of books]. When I realized it was a part of a series, I bought [ordered] the first three books and read them in order. This book blew my mind when I first read it - it was crazy, insane, intense, and I wondered if any of humanity would survive [past the fourth book, that is. I knew humanity lived at least that long! hahahah I was not sure if humanity would still be around after the fourth book].I thought the author did a credible job introducing the alien races to an unsuspecting world, and how the introductions went about. I liked how the author indicated that the military turned to science fiction authors [especially military sci-fi] for references in how they might go about handling an alien invasion. As the military tends to be very conservative and entrenched in many aspects, one would think [assume] it would be exceedingly difficult for military personnel to be able to consult such civilians on how to fight aliens; but, then again, it seems that many former military personnel write sci-fi and military sci-fi, so perhaps it would not be so hard after all. The author does focus more on the military and the government in terms of the revelation [as well as former military personnel now in civilian fields] but does not really consider how civilians and "other politicians" might handle such a revelation. There are numerous info dumps throughout the book; sadly, they are somewhat necessary to understand the integrated [blended?] alien-Terran technology used by the military forces against the Posleen. It always struck me as humorous that the Galactic Federation was unable to fight on their own behalf and defend themselves. The technology introduced was pretty cool when I first read about it, and I still enjoyed reading about it today. In numerous ways, the armored suits [and the story itself] reminded me of "jumped-up" Starship Troopers on steroids, in many respects. The author does an incredible job in influencing the emotions of the reader. (view spoiler)[The races other than the Darhel tend to be more cowardly in nature, and so are unable to stand and defend themselves. The Darhel, however, are despicable scum and worthy to be not only hated but annihilated. From the getgo, they are working behind the scenes to ensure that humanity is wiped out saving the Galactic Federation and have no true desire to save humanity. Their actions reminded me of a "primary villain" in Ian Slater's WW III series, in that there was an American who was secretly sabotaging the war effort(s) of the United States, such as providing defective weapons of war or medicine that was either ineffective, weakened, or poisoned. The Darhel attempt to stymie and sabotage the American war effort on every front, mostly by either failing to follow through on their end of their contracts or by doing one of two things: either providing defective materials/weapons/supplies or gimmicking up the supply chain so that there are "shortages" of much-needed GalTech in order for the military to be able fight and win against the Posleen. It is bad enough they are able to turn humans against the human race, but the Darhel bring loathsome behavior to a whole new level of despicableness. That is probably one of the things that i like so much about the end of Watch on the Rhine - the Darhel get what is coming to them, and they get it in spades. So, yeah, the author does a great job in creating a race that is easy to hate and generates such strong emotions in the reader. (hide spoiler)](view spoiler)[One thing that really stood out to me after reading this novel for the umpteenth time: why didn't the Fleet utilize the Posleen ships they captured on Diess? I know one of the later books talks about how the Darhel would swoop in and claim the damaged/destroyed Posleen equipment, but Fleet and Fleetstrike really should have had first dibs on any and all captured Posleen equipment. It would have helped the position of the Terran defenders immeasurably. For example, at the end of this novel, General Houseman is having a conversation with Mike O'Neal and tells O'Neal, "We recovered over seven thousand landers, Lampreys, and C-Decs that were left behind" (387). Really? Really?!?!? SEVEN THOUSAND enemy vessels capable not only of space flight but defeating anything thrown at them as well as capable of transporting HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TROOPS across the universe?!? And these vessels were never claimed for salvage or capture or whatever claim needed to be levied so that the enemy vessels could be used against the enemy themselves? The fact that so many captured warships were not used or utilized or anything by the Fleet/Fleetstrike personnel strikes me as utterly ridiculous and one of the weakest parts of the series. I always blew past that line in prior readings, never really considering the ramifications of what General Houseman said and how the Terran military failed to capitalize on this treasure trove of enemy warships dropped into their lap. They could have done so much with them! Even utilized them in the defense of Earth, if nothing else! These seven thousand enemy vessels are never mentioned again [not really even in Eye of the Storm except to say that the Universe At Large, the Galactic Federation owes Mighty Mite big for saving its bacon! But that is another review for another day. (hide spoiler)]I enjoyed the interactions between various characters. I thought the author did a good job bouncing between "three events/narratives" in this novel - once O'Neal left Earth behind for Diess, there was what was happening back on Earth, on Diess, and on Barwhon V (view spoiler)[where a team of special forces experts has its mission changed from one of reconnaissance to capturing some of the Posleen to bring back for study; the team is essentially wiped out but for three survivors (hide spoiler)]. I thought the author did a good job of keeping all of the voices separate and unique in the novel; there was a big "primary" cast as well as a huge "supporting" cast and it would have been easy to get characters mixed up. There were "fun" parts as well as "fun Easter Eggs" in the book. Fellow sci-fi author David Weber gets several shout-outs and "distant cameos" in the book. I had the impression David Drake might have been mentioned as well. A short story called "To Serve Man" is mentioned as well, and it is very important because it serves as a harbinger of sorts of what is to come (I finally looked up the short story online and read it; I also watched "The Twilight Zone" episode of this story to discover it for myself instead of reading somebody else's synopsis of it. It was a great short story, and "The Twilight Zone" episode did not do it justice, in my opinion). "The Drake Equation" is also discussed, albeit briefly [which I always associated with David Drake, but was surprised to learn that it was actually proposed by an astronomer named Frank Drank and not the famous/popular science fiction author. hahahah], early on in relation to the revelations that were going to be revealed to the public at large. I felt like the armored suits were definitely an homage to Heinlein's Starship Troopers. I know I had to have missed numerous other "Easter Eggs" the author included in this novel, but that is okay. I enjoyed "discovering" the ones that I did find.(view spoiler)[I also liked that the book did not focus exclusively on the United States. It might have focused primarily on the United States, but not exclusively. The Chinese were mentioned heavily in the early parts of the story but eventually disappeared by the end (sad to say). The Germans and the French have a "bigger" part to play on Diess, which was fine by me. I think I would have liked to have seen more international preparations for the coming invasion; we do finally get that in some [two] of the stories co-written with Tom Kratman; I would love to read more of those stories, even if they ended in a form of "defeat" (as implied in books three and four of this series). The Chinese did have an important part to play, as they made some discoveries early on that helped turn some of the deals/dealings/contracts with the Darhel more towards working in humanity's favor instead of the despicable Darhel. For example, the Chinese were the first ones to discover that the humans were being cheated [underpaid] by the Darhel as humanity was a scarce resource, and Terran soldiers even more so. The Darhel were offering monetary amounts as payment that were severely less than they should have been; humanity had the Chinese to thank for this discovery/revelation. I would love to read a book about Russia and how the Russians handled the invasion. It is eventually discovered that the Posleen hate fighting in cold [freezing] weather, and they hate fighting in the snow. As essentially a form of centaurian-lizard, they are not equipped to be able to stay warm when it facing cold weather. It would be fun/fascinating to read about how the Russians would be able to utilize "Old Man Winter" in defending the Rodina from the alien invaders. I think the Russians had the potential to kick some serious alien butt, in many respects, even if they had to "compress" their society in order to survive. They were able to transport entire factories across the nation during WWII; it would be interesting to see how they would be able to handle an alien invasion. They might come out of it better than expected! (hide spoiler)]I have read this book multiple times, but it has been several years [maybe a decade?] since I last read it. In some ways, it was like visiting an "old friend" and in other ways it was not-quite the trip down memory lane that I expected. The book was a bit dated in parts (view spoiler)[such as when a private attempts to hack a computer by inserting a floppy disk into the disk drive (327) - that was pretty funny to read, considering floppy disks have not been used for quite some time. I am sure there were other parts that were equally "dated" but that one stands out most in my mind (hide spoiler)], but that "datedness" did not take away from the overall enjoyment. Even after all this time and the numerous rereadings of this book, it still manages to generate strong emotions in me when I read it, and I still found it highly entertaining. I think those are two important qualities that help make a book "great" [even if it is "just" a military science fiction story written by the author as something the author long wanted to read. He decided he had to be the one to write the type of novel he wanted to read because nobody else was going to write it. hahahah. I am glad that I took the time to visit an old friend and be reminded of why I enjoyed this book so much [and the entire series, overall] when I first read it.

  • Glen Robinson
    2019-03-15 16:16

    The premise is that earth is contacted by a federation of alien races that are fighting a war–and losing. They haven’t contacted earth before this because we are so far behind everyone else technology wise, AND we tend to be a bit, ahem, aggressive. And that’s the problem they are having. They are fighting a losing war because none of the good races are aggressive–warlike–enough. They agree to supply us with the technology to fight if we agree to go and fight their war for them. And one other incentive? This alien aggressor race, the Posleen, is scheduled to invade earth in five years.It doesn’t take long for the entire earth to buy into this new war footing. And it is a huge undertaking. And that’s part of the problem with this book. Because John Ringo is starting a series and not just talking about one hero, but perhaps a dozen characters, the story is very complex and takes a while for the reader to get a handle on. In fact, there was a point where I almost stopped reading because I couldn’t keep track of who was who. It reminded me of the struggles I had reading Game of Thrones.But there is a payoff. The last half of the book is fantastic. John Ringo is a very good storyteller when it comes to the battlefield. The reader is taken from riots on earth to behind enemy lines action on a swamp planet to main battle action among skyscrapers on a desert planet. If you like military sci-fi, this is definitely good stuff. Better yet, it’s the first book in a series.

  • Topher
    2019-03-08 17:28

    War PornPros*Excellent verisimilitude in the portrayal of the modern military.*Captured the feel of desperation*Hints of an interesting plotCons*No character arcs or development*Simply a description of a series of political power plays and a long drawn out battle*Nothing in the way of plot twists or surprises*The most interesting and developed character is the battle armorIt's not bad, per se, and it is solid military sci-fi, with an over-extreme emphasis on the military. The humans win, the setbacks are overcome by deus ex machina, and humanity moves from a backwards race to possessing amazing technology that far outstrips the mind-controlled enemy. It's an easy read if you want long descriptions of battle with no character development, no real plot other than kill the enemy, and no complications or setbacks that aren't overcome by technological marvels gifted to humanity by far superior races because they "can't" fight back for philosophical reasons. I'm happy that Ringo has found commercial success, but the writing is neither inspired not captivating. I care more about what amazing thing his technological deus ex machina could do than about the fates of any of his characters. I would not recommend this novel.

  • Siddhant Mohalanobish
    2019-03-20 18:03

    Good fighting, hampered by stereotyping and poor consideration of sci-fi.Telling a good story is essentially about telling a human story, otherwise we can't empathise with it.John Ringo commits the cardinal crime of showing the alien point of view without really defining the alien terms. It adds signifIcant cognitive load on the reader, something Isaac Asimov warned us against. (-1)Perhaps this is decades of Science fiction reading and gaming talking, but the usage of tech seems rather unimaginative - though I can't explain without spoiling the story. (-.5)The characters are stereotypes, but this is a military novel and that can be forgiven to an extent.It is also odd that each country deploys its military separately as opposed to a unified strike force under the aegis of, say, the UN.That aside, the military action is ace. The fighting is easy to follow, something to be commended.The whole book is a reminder that humans are the Ubermensch, and only tech is holding us back from dominating all the stars; we got the chutzpah, smarts and are just dang awesome.

  • Nathaniel
    2019-03-21 19:16

    A couple of years ago, I read several of John Ringo's books, starting with his zombie-apocalypse series Black Tide Rising (book 1: Under a Graveyard Sky. The books had their issues, but the non-stop action and especially the flashes of noble sentiment made for a really fun read. So I kept going, moving onto the more traditionally sci-fi March Upcountry and eventually trying out his thriller series Ghost. That last one was so utterly horrific that I swore off all further Ringo books for years. But the reality is that--as much as military sci-fi is my go-to fun read--the overall quality is really, really low in the subgenre. We can't all be Marko Kloos (definitely the best currently writing military sci-fi author), and I'd say John Ringo is the next-best after Kloos. So I took a shot on his first series.I was really, really surprised to find out that the basic premise of this series is an identical copy of one of my favorite sci-fi series of all time, Alan Dean Foster's The Damned trilogy (starting with A Call to Arms). I can't remember when I first read these books, but they had an absolutely huge impact on me as a kid, bigger than anything else except maybe Ender's Game and a couple of others. Anyway, the premise of these books is that there's a diverse alliance of alien species who are fighting a losing war against a ferocious invasion. And the reason they are losing? The only intelligent species that survive industrialization are those with no propensity for violence. (This is seen as a solution to the Fermi Paradox.) So the good-guy alliance is super technically advanced, but all the aliens are psychologically incapable of warfare. So they decide to recruit humans because if there's one thing humans are really great at, it's violence. The idea was pretty mind-blowing to me when I read the books as a kid in the mid 1990s (and they were written from 1991 - 1993), especially because Foster spends a decent amount of time talking about the ambiguous relationship between humans and our allies, given that they recruited us because we're (by their standards) psychopathic killing machines. So, as I said, I was more than a little surprised to see this exact premise getting re-used by Ringo, especially because Ringo loves to name-drop his heroes (David Weber gets a prominent cameo early on) and stuff his books with homages and references, but I never detected any allusions to Foster's earlier work. (A Hymn Before Battle was released in 2000.)Now... how was it? The book it reminds me of the most is actually Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy's magnum opus of a hypothetical World War III between the US and the USSR. (Red Storm Rising was written in 1986. Oh, and by the way, the premise of Red Storm Rising is essentially the same as the inciting incident of 1991's Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. For whatever it's worth.)The reason is just that it has a really, really wide scope. There are a lot of characters in a lot of different places doing a lot of different things as the author tries to wrangle together a really, really huge story. The difference is that Clancy actually does wrap everything together into one, cohesive narrative. Ringo hasn't, at least... hasn't so far. (I'm on book 3 as I write this, and there are about a dozen books in the series as of now.) Instead, it's pretty diffuse, like a long, long list of incredibly bloody battles interspersed with obligatory Rudyard Kipling snippets. (If you've read any military sci-fi, you know about the importance of military-themed poetry as chapter intros, and nobody wrote more of that than Kipling did.)So, I had a pretty good time, but I have to admit that more than once I wondered why. There's none of the philosophical musing that Foster put in his version of this story (and that kind of defines the spirit of sci-fi, for me at least) and the focus is a little too monomaniacally fixed on combat, combat, combat, and more combat. There are occasional interludes to repair this or that or do some basic training or recon, but for the most part this is just tens of thousands of words of non-stop battle scenes.If that sounds like a great thing to you: then you should read it. But it's also the kind of book that I tend to forget almost before I'm done reading it.Also, I've never seen the word abattoir used so many times in one book. Ringo has a few ticks that keep coming up like that. In addition to abattoirs, there are also a couple of references to "pendulous breasts" and a couple of other odd phrases or unusual adjectives that good used pretty consistently. (Why would "pendulous breasts" need to be used more than once? Don't ask me.)

  • Cara Schulz
    2019-03-13 19:06

    I'm not normally too into military Sci-Fi or much sci-fi since they tent to focus too much on toys and tech and not enough on plot and character development. Hymn did pretty well on both - enough that I and my husband both enjoy this series.The premise is very interesting - Earth gets contacted by aliens and they're here to tell us that some other aliens are getting ready to kick our butts (and eat us). We have 5 years to prepare and they'll help us with tech, but that's it since they are physically and psychologically unable to fight.How would society change? I wish a bit more of that was developed, but we can't have everything can we. Good alien threat, untrustworthy allies, and interesting heroes.

  • Zach Ulibarri
    2019-03-08 20:13

    I mean good god, look at the fucking cover. I should have brown paper bagged it because I was so embarrassed to read this thing in public. I read it because of all the rave reviews I've seen about it on the internet, and I was expecting it to be a really fun space opera. It has its moments, but it's really just a run of the mill trash novel fraught with all the tropes of the genre. And whoever designed the covers to these books should be dragged to the streets and shot. Look at the one for "Gust Front," which is the next book in this series. It might be the most ridiculous cover I have ever seen in my entire life.