The assassination of Fidel Castro in Cuba has not made Latin America more stable. In fact the entire region is rocked with rebellion. In Nicaragua the Sandinistas are launching a military coup to overthrow the government. The Cubans has also decided to send a message to the U.S. by seizing Guantanamo. In Texas a radical militia called the Defenders of the Texas Revolution are planning on striking out. They mount an invasion of Mexico and destroy an American auto plant that they accuse of stealing American jobs. Now the Mexican government wants revenge and plans to launch its own counter-raid to destroy a factory in the U.S.
Once again a huge cast of characters as they battle these various threats. The Green Beret team has to assassinate the Sandinista coup leader on its own because the forces that were scheduled to arrive have to be diverted to Cuba. I think a lot of planned stuff wasn’t included because of the changing nature of the world after the Soviet’s collapse. The second book was supposed to deal with a U.S./Soviet conflict over Ecuador. There was a chapter at the beginning about a Chinese massacre in Tibet that lead nowhere. In fact there was nothing about the planned Vietnamese/China war or Japanese/American clandestine efforts to overthrow the government from the last book. Nor was there anything about the Middle East and its new Iran-Iraq war. It just mainly concentrated on the three hot spots in this hemisphere. The book once again seems dated except for the U.S. army being deployed to the border to deal with the flood of refugees for Latin America.
In fact I felt the author was just writing to fulfill his obligation to deliver a second book knowing that this series was finished. The book itself is OK if not really standing out in any way. I think it was a victim to the rapidly changing circumstances of the time. The idea behind this series was intriguing just not properly executed. So from a historical perspective it is interesting to read.
It is the near future and the world is going through a series of geopolitical changes. The Soviet Union has to deal with its various separatist movements. Even with the demise of both the Warsaw Pact and NATO the Russians still have dreams of world revolution. They have several plans to expand their influence and keep their rivals off balance. China is going through serious internal unrest. American and Japanese operatives are smuggling in propaganda to further destabilize the government. The Russians also plan to start a war between Vietnam and China.
In the Middle East they maneuver to gain influence with both Iran and Iraq as the two countries start another war. They also with the help of Iraq are supporting a coup as the government goes through a power struggle after the death of the king. Cuba is actively supporting the Colombian drug cartels as a Green Beret missions finds out. The U.S. wants Castro dead to stop this support. In fact the Soviets also want him dead because his country is costing them billions and they want someone who will reform the economy. All this is told through a vast cast of characters that include a Green Beret major and his Spetsnaz counterpart. A female Air Force pilot who is taken hostage by the hostile coup in Saudi Arabia and an investigative report.
So this was a new series back in the early nineties that had a very ambitious premise. That the near future would see a series of destabilizing changes and various low level armed conflicts around the world. Unfortunately it came out in December 1991 just as the Soviet Union collapses so even as I was reading it back then it seemed dated. I think he did a good job of coming to his hypothesis for the future. Cuba would have been a serious economic drain on the Soviets if they continued on so I could see them wanting to get rid of Castro. The drug trade was a hot topic then and so was a possible civil war in China after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Also the demise of NATO after the fall of the Berlin Wall was a logical speculation.
Of course history came out very differently. So this book can be read as a window into the thinking of the time. The book itself was OK. The story did drag on some places but keeps the reader interested enough to finish the book. This was written by Kevin Randle who has his official military title used to give the series a feel of authenticity. He was an Air Force intelligence officer and before that served as a helicopter pilot in the army during Vietnam. He is a prolific writer who has written such various fiction works in action, science fiction and Vietnam war series including the excellent Vietnam Ground Zero series. His big claim to fame appears to be he is an expert on UFOs and has written many non-fiction books on the subject.
The Reich is developing a new weapon. Reichdoktor Hoss Harbinger the number two man in the Reich has developed a new device called Enigma. Enigma harnesses the powers from hell to take control of branded soldiers and turn them into one hive mind. They also can change into monsters. This weapon has the power to turn whole nations into an unstoppable army. So the Union sends in a small commando squad lead by RAF pilot Rick Cross and Lt. Caitlin “Hoax” Lamsbury. Using a prototype jet they drop into occupied Norway. There they join forces with Major Volkov of the Matriarchy. Known as the iron major the two groups mound an assault on Aesir the massive floating platform that is a combination aircraft carrier and landing craft as it assaults the city of Aberdeen. The fate of the world hangs in the balance.
The finally in the Tannhauser trilogy. This one decided to not use the characters of Von Heizinger and Major McNeal. Instead we get new heroes and villains which is a nice change of pace. Hoss Harbinger is some sort of immortal demi-god that has plans to eventually take over the world and destroy it. Hoax and Volkov are characters that briefly appeared in the first two books. We get a look into Britain and some of the occupied territories. Throw in a turncoat traitor, secret agents and a mercenary squad of aviators known as the Autonomous Alliance of Aces and you have a fun and exciting story.
So the series on the whole was intriguing. Based on a board game a lot of details for this alternate reality where the Great War never ended were never fully explained. The origin of the characters could still be explored. The history on why the change in history. Why is Thomas Edison over hundred? Why have they never figured out nuclear bombs since this is 1954? Many questions to explore if they decide to write any future books. I found the trilogy at Half Price Books and somehow it just called to me to buy it. Otherwise I would have never known of its existence. It must have been fate.
Operation Night Eagle is the ambitious undertaking of Von Heizinger and his Obscura Corp to grab artifacts that have mystical powers and could win the war. Under cover of a massive Reich raid on the U.S. East Coast his mixed demon Shocktruppen and fifth columnists sneak into Washington D.C. The first goal is to steal from the Smithsonian the cross of Juan de San Martin. Luckily Major John McNeal and his 42nd Union marines have found out his plan after raiding his HQ in occupied France. They manage to foil his plans. So he continues to the next objective. A runestone located in Kensington, Minnesota. The runestone is supposed to contain the spirits of the Norse gods including Loki.
At this time the Matriarchy under Irina has crossed the polar icecap and landed in Northern Canada. Their objective is also to recover the Runestone. Eventually the three groups meet up in Kensington for one big battle to determine who gets the runestone.
So the second book in this series takes us to the United States and Canada. This one has plenty of action with many battles. Von Heizinger uses his occult powers to take control of people and bring down a massive snowstorm to give him cover. The Matriarchy has its Tesla made energy shields and guns. Also they use polar bears. And of course the Union has its alien tech including jet packs. We get General Patton who is still alive and Undersecretary of Defense for the Union being Patton. All for some cheezy tourist attraction in some boondock Minnesota town. Another enjoyable book in the series of Great War never ending.
Union agents in Tokyo find out about a mission undertaken by the Shogunate. It is lead by the Reich’s Generalleutant Von Heizinger the leader of the Obscura Korps, the special occult unit. The Union wants to know what they are after so assign Major McNeal and his elite 42th Marines to find out. The trip leads to the Kamchatka peninsula. The Union joins forces with a renegade unit of the Matriarchy called the New Guard. The mission leads to an active volcano and a captive pagan god. The potential power unleashed could bring the Union to destruction.
So this is the first in a trilogy of books from the Tannhauser universe. Tannhauser is a French board game that takes place in an alternate reality where the Great War never ended. So in this book it is 1954 and the First World War has been going for over forty years. During this time occult forces have been discovered and weird technology. Sort of a wild idea having the Great War continue for so long. In reality I doubt such a war would since both sides would basically run out of men to fight it which is what happened in reality. If you overlook the implausible reality this can be a fun series. So basically the sides correspond to the main players of WWII.
There is the Reich which is Germany and its allies. They are basically Nazis without being Nazis. The are ruled by the lich Kaiser and have turned to the dark occult. So they have demon soldiers and magic. The central baddie is Von Heizinger who is probably over a century old and heads the Obscura Korps.
They have been fighting The Union which is the alliance of western democracies of Europe and North America. It is lead by President Thomas Edison. Now Edison died in 1931 at the age of 84. So in 1954 he would be 106. So you wonder how he stayed alive for so long. Sounds like he is president for life. The main good guy is Major John McNeal of the 42th Union Marine special forces. The Union has salvaged technology from the Roswell crash and relies on advanced gadgets and weapons.
The Matriarchy is the Russian Empire ruled by Czarina Anastasia and her husband Rasputin known as the Dark Angel. They seem to have avoided the war. They have turned to worship of the pagan Slavic gods of old and combine magic with technology developed by Nicola Tesla. They seem to still have a kind of Communist organization to their society only based on pagan church and run by holy Commissars. The main character is Irina Kravchenko who can sing mystical liturgies that instill fear in their enemies and bravery in their troops.
Finally there is the Shogunate. Japan was in a civil war during this time when the emperor tried to depose the samurai. He came out on top to some unknown science and with a powerful Shogun now rules Japan. Recently they have invaded China and allied themselves to the Reich. They also seem to dabble in the occult.
So the first book was an engaging read with interesting characters. The wilds of Kamchatka make an interesting setting. Also their is a mysterious mercenary named Wolf who is working for the pagan god. He is a constant throughout the books and works for all sides with a mysterious unknown motive. This weird world war makes for an interesting read and glad I took a chance when I found the books at Half Price.
One night the Soviet general in Cuba gets a message. Soon after he retrieves plans from the vault codenamed Operation Volga. He and his division of Soviet and Cuban troops will invade Miami and the Florida Keys. Supposedly to use as a bargaining chip as the Soviets close off Berlin. In reality the General has gone insane after hearing of the death of his only son a Spetznas in Afghanistan. He now believes he is fighting WWII. A KGB major is encouraging this to start a war with America. In one swift swoop the Soviet-Cuban forces seize Miami.
It just so happens that the President is secretly visiting his girlfriend in her mansion in the Florida Keys and now finds himself trapped. So he impersonates a servant to hide from the Cuban troops. Meanwhile others are rising to the resistance. The Mafia was having its big meeting in Miami and decides to hit the invaders. So do the FBI who were going to raid the meeting. There is a much bigger concern. The Soviets and Vice President agree to send their best agents KGB Maritza Jurgenova and ex-CIA now successful writer Jonathan Forbes. The two have until six in the morning to convince the general his son is actually alive and start withdrawing his forces. Otherwise the Soviets will launch a nuclear strike. So the two agents must battle their way through occupied Miami and fight off Soviet-Cuban troops, rioters and anti-Castro Cubans to stop WWIII.
Ah the good old eighties. I always loved these old books where the commies invaded. This was a real fun one with the evil commies coming in and Americans rallying to fight back. So you have the FBI and mob join forces. An added twist is the President now trapped while visiting his girlfriend and the VP having to make up a story that the President is trapped in a blizzard in his ranch in Montana. Of course two agents who had some history have to unite and with copies of VHS and Beta tapes of the general’s son must somehow get to the general and convince him to withdraw or there will be a nuclear war.
OK it is a bit goofy and unrealistic. I mean the general going nuts and just so happens the KGB liaison is a die hard Stalinist determined to start a war. The Americans seemed to have a cavalier attitude about the invasion. They have troops stationed across the border in Georgia. If they move into northern Florida or Georgia they might have to push back but hey if they stay in Miami no big deal. I guess they don’t really care about Miami. This is just a pure eighties experience with VHS and Betas tapes, evil commies and patriotic Americans fighting back. Of course he succeeds with just seconds to spare. Where else would you learn that the mob has one day a week called Spaghetti day where they cook the old country recipe while wearing their pistols in a shoulder holster. This was also a book I got just before I graduated high school so it brings back some good memories. Definitely a fun read.
In the year 2000 Jeremy Wainman makes it to the American settlement of Kennedy Base on Mars. In this timeline both Mars and Venus are inhabited. The cold war rivalry has been channeled into settling these worlds. After the encounter with the advanced alien technology on Venus both sides are looking for more. Wainman an archaeologist is there to explore the ancient ruins on Mars. The Martians are an ancient race that were once ruled by the Crimson Dynasty. Now are nothing more than a collection of city states. Wainman hires Teyud za-Zhalt as a guide to the ancient city of Rema-Dza. Aboard the landship Intrepid Traveler they must fight off the various creatures and pirates that populate the Deep Beyond. Teyud has a secret. She is the daughter of the emperor and rightful heir to the Crimson Throne. In Rema-Dza they find the ancient invisible crown which activates because of her genetic heritage. Now they must make it to the old imperial city of Dvor Il-Adazar or City beneath the mountain at Mons Olympus and restore the power of the Crimson Dynasty.
The second book in the Lords of Creation series. This one deals with Mars. Here we have a much more advanced race of people. Mainly in biological sciences they create most of their tech from living machines. They are a people that are somewhat different genetically from Earth humans but still related. They also are a race that seems to have little curiosity and believe everything that has been worth discovering has already been done. So their society is stagnant and they show little interest in the Vas-Terrain or people from the Wet World.
I think this was better than the first book. The Martian society had a fascinating complexity to it. Plus you had the good old fashioned adventure with flying ships, swordfights ,intrigue and romance. Sterling left open some new story ideas at the end for the ancient technology activated by the invisible crown opens stargates on all three worlds to a new world. So there are new worlds to explore and maybe someday Sterling will continue with this fascinating look at a reality where Mars and Venus were made habitable by a mysterious ancient alien race.