Today I bring you a review of Coalition's End by Karen Traviss.
Warning some spoilers ahead, can't really avoid them this time.
Coalition's End forms the fourth book in the fantastic novel series tied in with the Xbox game title, Gears of War, the deliciously gory example of modern sci-fi gameplay, better than Halo simply because it includes a chainsaw bayonet and gore spray. Now if Halo had that....
Following on from the events of the previous book Anvil Gate, the fourth book in the series continues the events that occur after the end of the second game. With the last 'safe' bastion of humanity against the Locust horde, the city of Jacinto, sunk by the COG forces in an attempt to end the war once and for all after the failure of Operation Hollow Storm (that's the bit at the start of the second game folks, where you go underground to take the fight to the Locust) and the heavy losses they took as a result, the survivors have gone from place to place looking for a safe haven. What they found started out as a pretty peaceful little island, at least that was until the Lambent showed up.
Glowing Locust creatures and a variety of brand new beasties, all explosive thanks to their nature, are attacking the COG in their last holdout, but with internal struggles and the risks of this new foe fighting them, the last piece of human civilisation is crumbling away.
This book, like all of Karen Traviss' tie in work (i read the start of her own original series and didn't like it much), is a great example of just how she can throw you into this world headfirst and have you screaming and running for your life as some 'orrible beastie charges at you wanting to turn you into it's mid morning snack. She is able to create a sense of realism not only to the characters (arguably the most important bit of writing a successful story let alone a long running series) but to the environment as well. The sense of desperation that is created as you are taking along for the ride with the last human survivors, both COG and the Stranded, in the blasted world of Sera, is so intense you could cut it with a spoon and sell it on Ebay.
Her characters, both the ones already known from the games and those she has created for the novel tie ins are real enough to make you believe they are in fact real people that you might meet on the street rather than an imaginary creation and their dramas and struggles are worthy of any television drama series.
The story line is fast paced, keeps you guessing as to the nature of the enemy the humans are facing (which is obviously not revealed at this point. My money is that they are saving that for the game itself) and sets everything up nicely for the game, and my only problem with it is that it doesn't go into the depth it could and ends earlier than you think it should, but since she has written the story for the thrid game, we know we won't be left hanging with it.
Five stars for this one.
Gears of War, Coalition's End by Karen Traviss.
available from pretty much any bookshop or web seller.