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review 2018-04-14 15:01
Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm Review
Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm - Patrick Olliffe,Adam Glass

Source: Netgalley


Even though there had been several books between me experiencing Rough Riders Vol 1 and Vol 2, I found myself quickly remembering how much I liked some of the characters, and laughing at the dialogue. And, of course, anticipating a certain one's return - which I was given rather swiftly. However, unfortunately, I feel like this one had a serious case of try-too-hard-itis going on. While I loved a lot of the action and the witty repartee between Annie and the rest of the Rough Riders was awesome, the repeated twists and turns of the plot had me sighing.

My main problem with Rough Riders, Vol 2: Riders on the Storm were the parallels to America today. I read to escape, so finding myself plunging into a version of our current situation had me wrinkling my nose. And from a certain word to the characters that were obvious stand-ins for some of our politicians in office today, it was impossible to not see the similarities. However, the dialogue between the Rough Riders about democracy, anarchy, and frustration with the system was very plainly put and easy to relate to. And the end of this issue, well, let's just say it was believable as well. So while I didn't like that aspect of things, I still appreciated how the writer laid things out.  I do want to comment on a lot more than I currently am, simply because I lack the skill to get my point across.

The other thing is that while I can suspend quite a lot of belief in logic and abilities in search of a good story, Rough Riders Vol 2: Riders on the Storm, just had a few too many cases where I felt like it was pushing the envelope of realism a bit too far. There was a scene in particular involving one of the characters and four horses that had me rolling my eyes.

My favorite line comes from Roosevelt in the first issue (#8) of Riders on the Storm. It's just an awesome insult.

"For a civil war veteran, I found age and fear had given him the spine of a chocolate eclair."

As for the individual issues themselves, while I liked the The Big Burn (#8), Maiden of the Mist (#12) was the stand-out winner for me. Mostly because I love Annie, in case I haven't mentioned that three times already. Strange Days (#13) was my least favorite of the bunch. Given the way Strange Days ended things, I can't say that I would be interested in picking up any more volumes from the Rough Riders' series. 

Overall, just can't recommend this volume, sorry. It had it's high points, but not enough to make it worth spending money on.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher for review consideration

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review 2018-04-07 15:48
As entertaining as its predecessors
Alternate Generals III - Harry Turtledove

The dustjacket cover is a piece of irrelevant silliness; there are no stories in this volume involving Lee and Grant as Roman commanders.  What it does contain is thirteen original short stories premised in a variety of different histories.  The stories are:


“A Key to the Illuminated Heretic” by A. M. Dellamonica – Joan of Arc fails to recant, and instead survives to lead a sect of Christian dissidents fighting for their survival.


“The Road to Endless Sleep” by Jim Fiscus – A Roman centurion loyal to Marc Antony finds himself the commander of Cleopatra’s bodyguard after their triumph over Octavian.


“Not Fade Away” by William Sanders – General Douglas MacArthur does not escape from the Philippines in 1942 but instead ends up a prisoner of the Japanese.


“I Shall Return” by John Mina – Having been assigned to the Philippines, Dwight Eisenhower and his subordinates George Patton and Jimmy Doolittle mount a much more successful defense of the islands from Japanese invasion.


“Shock and Awe” by Harry Turtledove – Instead of a religious following, Jesus inspires a military uprising against the Romans.


“A Good Bag” by Brad Linaweaver – During a 1910 seance, General Francis Younghusband receives a message from the past that warns of the necessity of war between Britain and Germany.


“The Burning Spear at Twilight” by Mike Resnick – Jomo Kenyatta devises a very modern campaign to drive the British from Kenya.


“‘It Isn’t Every Day of the Week’” by Roland J. Green – A daring naval decision by Captain Stephen Decatur leads to a very different War of 1812.


“Measureless to Man” by Judith Tarr – Genghis Khan’s conversion to Judaism creates a much different Mongol Empire – and spawns a doctrinal conflict with their counterparts in Europe.


“Over the Sea from the Skye” by Lillian Stewart Carl – The Duke of Cumberland’s defeat at the hands of Bonnie Prince Charlie creates a difficult situation for a young woman.


“First, Catch Your Elephant” by Esther M. Friesner – Hannibal’s pachyderm-equipped invasion of Italy faces difficulty when his men run out of food in the Alps.


“East of Appomattox” by Lee Allred – Robert E. Lee is sent on a diplomatic mission to London for a victorious Confederacy facing difficulties.


“Murdering Uncle Ho” by Chris Bunch” – In a North Vietnam occupied by invading American forces, an American commando mission is sent on a mission to eliminate the surviving Communist leadership.


Like any short story collection, individual readers will have their own favorites from among the offerings, but the range of tales offers something for just about any fan of alternate history.  Overall, this is a good entry to a solid series, one that offers intriguing tales into worlds that might have been.

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review 2018-04-07 15:42
An enjoyable collection of alternate history short stories
Alternate Generals II - Harry Turtledove

While Harry Turtledove’s name is featured prominently on the cover, he authors just one of the thirteen short stories in this collection of alternate history tales.  Though the settings range from ancient Egypt (in Noreen Doyle’s “Horizon”) to twentieth-century Istanbul (the setting of James Fiscus’s “American Mandate”), the theme uniting them all is the different paths events might have taken should the people, choices, and settings have been any different.  Like most collections, the stories are a mixed bag in terms of quality, with some working better than others.  Readers will undoubtedly differ as to which stories these are, but just about any fan of the alternate history genre will find something to enjoy within the pages of this book.

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review 2018-04-07 15:08
An enjoyable but flawed alternate history novel
A Rainbow Of Blood: The Union In Peril An Alternate History - Peter G. Tsouras

Peter Tsouras’s second volume in his “Britannia’s Fist” trilogy picks up near where his last one left off.  Having entered the war as a result of a naval incident off the coast of Ireland, the British have occupied parts of Maine and upstate New York.  Portland lies under siege, and the Royal Navy has broken the blockade of the South, though at considerable cost.  Now with new life breathed into the Confederate cause, a French army marches up from Mexico to aid in the recapture of New Orleans and Lee outmaneuvers Meade to strike as Washington itself.  Yet with the Copperhead rebellion broken in the Midwest, the battle-hardened Union responds to the new threats, aided by a host of new technologies.  But will it be enough to save the United States from its host of enemies?


The Civil War is as well-trodden a subject for alternate history as it is for military history.  Yet Tsouras’s book stands out for two reasons.  The first is his divergence point; his use of the controversy of the Laird Rams as the reason for the war’s expansion, is original and it allows him to portray a more advanced conflict than is justifiably possible in similar novels.  The second is his expertise.  With a background in military intelligence, Tsouras brings considerable knowledge of martial affairs, which adds to the verisimilitude to his narrative.  These two elements often combine to make for dramatic descriptions of battles in places like Kennebunk and Claverack, accounts that are among the high points of this book.


Yet the strengths of Tsouras’s book are counterbalanced by glaring flaws.  Often his narrative is interrupted by long descriptions of regimental histories and uniforms that show off Tsouras’s research but do little to advance the story.  Some of that effort would have been better spent familiarizing himself with the broader historical background, as his plot exposes some disappointing gaps in his knowledge. His portrayal of Benjamin Disraeli as the Conservative Party leader in 1863 is a particularly large whopper given how he develops his plot (and one that gives added meaning to Angus Hawkins’s choice of The Forgotten Prime Minister as his title of his biography of the man who was, in fact, the actual leader of the Tories at that time).  Errors such as this can temper the enjoyment of the novel and raise doubts about the depth of his research in non-military affairs.  Hopefully Tsouras will address these weaknesses while building upon his strengths in the final volume, which holds promise for a dramatic end to his alternate history series.

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review 2018-04-07 01:09
An old-fashioned pulp adventure in a steampunk setting
The Warlord of the Air - Michael Moorcock,James Cawthorn

Sent out to deal with a troublesome warlord on the imperial frontier, Lieutenant Oswald Bastable, an army officer in 1902 India, unexpectedly finds himself in a 1973 where airships ply the skies and the British Empire continues to thrive.  Feigning amnesia, he adapts quickly to life in a world which seems nothing less than idyllic.  Yet Bastable’s path soon leads to a series of adventures that cause him to reexamine his initial assumptions and lead him to embrace a cause very different from the ones he was trained to defend.


The first in “Nomad of Time” trilogy, Michael Moorcock provides readers of this book with an old-fashioned pulp adventure in a steampunk setting.  This combination works thanks in no small part to Moorcock’s skills as a writer, which produce a novel that transcends the works which inspired it.  He keeps the narrative moving along briskly, and adapts both the tropes of the form and the politics which drive the story in the later chapters to produce a highly entertaining read, one that has aged well in comparison to other novels of its type.  This is an excellent starting point for someone wishing to explore the steampunk genre, as well as a fun read for anyone seeking a good book with which to pass the time.

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