Book Review – Gates Of Hell by Jay Allan

I’m not the most familiar with military science fiction, outside of the context of video games. Starcraft, Warhammer 40k and Halo aside, I haven’t had much exposure to the genre. I did read the first Starcraft novel, over 20 years ago and enjoyed it, but I didn’t seek out the rest of the series. My boyfriend and his dad live and breathe military sci-fi, so I decided it give it a try. As I’m going through my hefty to-read list in alphabetical order by author, I happened upon Jay Allan’s “Gates of Hell” first. Not knowing what to expect, I plunged in.

Gates of Hell has two things I love–a last stand story and space Marines. Gotta love space Marines. Not sure why, I think it’s the rule of cool in full effect there. There’s nothing like watching the best of the best taking on a superior force and giving them hell.

There is the focus on the horrors of war here, and the premise that peace at any cost can have dark consequences. When these intrepid Marines are offered up as a sacrificial lamb, their commander, General Worthington, does everything he can to save the men and women on the ground. It’s a short novella, but it’s an intriguing read.

One commentary I have, and it might seem minor, is that there are no female characters. It’s mentioned that there are women on the ground, but nobody with a speaking part. As a reader, I like to see someone who looks like me in the story as more than cannon-fodder.

Lady space Marines aside, the book was enjoyable. It was dark, gritty. I could see a great leader in Holm, and his afterword at the end of the book sets the stage for the books to come, as this was a prequel. I seem to have been guilty of reading the third book in the (prequel) series before the rest, again, but the author was very good at worldbuilding and able to bring the uninitiated up to speed.

I’d recommend this book to people new to military science fiction. I was describing it to my boyfriend one evening and he thought it sounded interesting, so it obviously holds appeal to seasoned readers of the genre as well.

By Thea

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