Audiobook Review: A Band of Brothers by William R. Forstchen

4 03 2011

A Band of Brothers (The Lost Regiment, Book 7) by William R. Forstchen

Read by Patrick Lawlor

Audible Frontiers

Genre: Military Science Fiction

Quick Thoughts: The darkest, and most desperate edition of an excellent series.

Grade: B-

A Band of Brothers is the seventh book in the Lost Regiment series. The series has a pretty basic plot, a regiment of Union soldiers from Maine during the civil war are inexplicably transported to another planet where they meet remnants of other lost humans who have become cattle to an alien race. Of course, fighting for freedom is what American soldiers do best. So they take on the alien hordes with guile, perseverance, an increasing technology base and a bunch of luck. As each book progresses the alien hordes become larger, more flexible and by book 7 equal in both modern technology and tactics. The series itself is an interesting “portal” type military fantasy that we have seen from authors like S.M. Stirling, Eric Flint, Taylor Anderson, and John Birmingham. Yet, one of the more interesting aspects of the Lost Regiment series is its base of a much lower technological starting point. Starting from a Civil War base has offered a nice little twist to the concept.

One problem with a long running military science fiction series is keeping it fresh. Sadly, this is one of the weaknesses of this series. With few exceptions, each novel is basically, “we beat back a big horde of aliens, but now we got to face an even bigger one.” That weakness aside, most novels of the Lost Regiment series are a whole lot of fun. Yet, in A Band of Brothers, that feeling of fun is destroyed. Andrew Keane, the leader of the military forces of the Republic, has been becoming a more and more beaten man, and has barely held the struggling Republic together, and now the leader of the Bantag is putting political pressure on him as well as military. Then Keane is injured, and begins to fall into despair. This brings about a very dark chapter in the series, with cultural strife and what seems like a never ending siege. It’s hard to enjoy a novel where everything seems to be falling apart, and that is what we have here. Characters you have grown to love have become despondent or just frustratingly complacent. You know that eventually something will pull it all together, but book 7 is definitely the darkness before the dawn. Despite its bleak mood, A Band of Brothers has many of the elements that make this series good, including a grand moment by one of the series best character which includes a fantastic ambush and rescue. Being that book 7 is the second to the last book in series makes a lot of the problems with the novel excusable, but readers will want to move quickly to book 8 before dwelling to much in the muck and mire of book 7.

Patrick Lawlor again handles the narration, and again does a stellar job. He has a hard road, trying to fill accents of the American soldiers, as well as aliens, and displaced Germanic and Roman people. He handles the wide range of characters well, without becoming cartoonish. All together Lawlor makes the listening experience worthwhile, and brings a consistency to the series that is needed.

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