Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Reviews: The Eyes of the Eagle & Fear to Tread

I spent today waiting on things to bake.  There was little on TV.  I watched some English Premier League soccer (football for the rest of the world).  I also went back to reading a book by Gary A. Linderer called "The Eyes of the Eagle:  F Company LRPs in Vietnam, 1968" by Presidio Press. The book was his experience on a Long Range Recce Patrol for the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War.  The book covers the first six months he was in country.

The author is from Crystal City, MO.  I worked in Jefferson County, MO for a while as a lab technician at a lead smelter there.  Crystal City wasn't far away from Herculaneum, MO.  The book was broken up by date.  It made for easy reading.  If I finished a particular section, I could always come back to it and pick up reading without any problems.  Most operations were squad level.  The LRPs worked in six man teams behind enemy lines.  Each mission was different.  But they were usually the same variants.  Much of the extractions and entries were done by Hueys.  The LRPs were a very loyal group themselves.  There's one description of the fragging of an unpopular company commander by one of the senior NCO's.  I gather the LRPs were a law unto themselves. 

Linderer got reassigned several times to different squads.  By the end of the book, his squad is ambushed and take heavy casualties.  He is sent to recover in country and then rejoin his unit at the end of the book.  However, the author points out he was lucky not to see many of his friends become KIA or WIA until that time. 

Most of the tactics described are either squad or platoon based at most.  The jungle fighting didn't allow for anything larger than that to be seen by just one man.  But "Eyes of the Eagle" is the first book in a cycle of three books by Linderer.  Steve Hood (Combat Colours) recommended me the other books to read in order to get a better feel of the LRPs contribution in the Vietnam War.  After this book, I feel like I've been to 'Nam.    

The second book I read/skimmed over was James Swallow's Fear to Tread about the Blood Angels in the Horus Heresy in the 31st millennium.  One must be a fan of Games Workshop's Space Marines and Warhammer 40K to fully enjoy this books.  There is a whole series of these novels both the Horus Heresy and those sent in the 41st millennial. 

The Horus Heresy is about the beginning of the Terran Imperium and how a God-like emperor begins conquering alien worlds in the hopes of reuniting a war-torn humanity.  Horus is the Emperor's right hand man.  Thing go to hell when he becomes a convert to Chaos.  The Horus Heresy is the tale of how that happens.  The Blood Angels are one of 20 original Legions of Space Marines who fought for the Emperor.  Fear to Tread is how the Blood Angels almost succumb to Chaos.  But their Primarch Sanguinius leads them to redemption on Signus Prime. 

Once the loyalist defeat Horus and the renegades, the Space Marine legions are broken up into 1000 man Chapter with the Second Founding after the Emperor is crippled in combat.  But that happens later in the Horus Heresy.  Fear to Tread is just about Sanguinius temptation in the face of his Legion's genetic impurities that bring on a foaming madness for blood in some of its members.  Horus offers a way for the Blood Angels to be cured so long as they come over to Chaos.  They refuse.  And all hell breaks lose on Signus Prime...

It was a good read.  Even if you aren't a fan of Space Marines.  James Swallow is a gifted author.  Being an epic, I felt there were too many characters even for me.  And I've been accused of having too many characters in my stories.  But my luck at buying interesting WH40K/Horus Heresy books has not been good.  I bought Legion of the Damned.  I gave up on that book about a third of the way into it.  I also have the Blood Angels Omnibus and new Ravenwing book by Gav Thorpe.  I'll try reading another sci-fi/WH40K novel in the near future and see how it goes.

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