Copyright 1993.

Sparta has won a great victory over the Helots. Yet the survivors have escaped and with continued support from Senator Bronson have regrouped and rearmed. They continue a guerrilla war with acts of terrorism. They also get help from Bronson’s influence over the CoDominium fleet. They increase the flow of involuntary colonists to give the Helots more recruits and blockade the planet economically. In spite of this, the Spartans manage to deal the Helots a decisive blow at a battle, and it looks like they will defeat them. Only the CoDominium has collapsed, and Bronson’s faction enters the fight on the side of the Helots. Sparta and the Legion have a final battle that will decide the fate of not only Sparta but the future of mankind.

The final book in the series is the best of the series. It is a brilliant study in Low Intensity Conflicts of the twentieth century. That time when two superpowers would support guerilla movements. The guerillas existed solely because of outside support and safe havens to operate from. How the guerrilla movement starts out as a hit and run force to a conventional force. Also, how this movement is effectively fought. A really exciting ending that shows how a free and well-armed people can resist such a movement.

Naturally they win with help from defecting fleet personnel and ends with them basically declaring fealty to the Spartan king as the Roman emperors of old were. I love the characters including the Spartan king Lysander. A man who inspired his troops to fight on in adversity. The Helot leader Skilly who is a complete psychopath and massacres innocent women and children to achieve her goal.

Sadly, Pournelle decided to abandon writing at this time and go into retirement. I would have loved to see more stories about this fascinating universe. How Sparta continued on after the fall of the CoDominium and built the Spartan Hegemony. Falkenberg’s Legion series is my favorite of Pournelle’s work. I never get tired of rereading them.


Copyright 1991.

A regiment of Falkenberg’s Legion has come to Sparta to set up a standing army for them. They came just in time for Senator Bronson has been financing an insurgency. The Liberation Army of Sparta or the Helots have started to flex their muscles. They start with terrorism and low intensity guerilla war. There is also a traitor in the form of a Spartan senator named Dion Croser. He leads the political segment of the Non-Citizen Liberation Front or NCLF. A series of high-profile terrorist attacks shows the level of power they have achieved. Bronson has hired the best mercenaries in the form of technoninjas from the planet Meiji. The story culminates in a big battle between the Helots and the untried Spartan Royal Army. A battle where the Helots use poison gas to try and deliver a final blow.

Pournelle decided to get Stirling to help him with the further adventures of Falkenberg’s Legion. I can see his influence in the pseudo encyclopedia entries at the beginning of each chapter that deals with some fictional history or place the chapter deals with. I think the character of Skilly the Belizean gang leader turned Maoist guerilla is also his creation. The action now comes to the planet Sparta which is the future place where the Empire of Man is formed. We explore this fascinating society founded by American intellectuals based on the freedoms of the old America. It does have a society of freedom and the ability of upward mobility. They are a democracy but have a dual monarchy based on the Sparta of Greece. The reasoning is that politicians became too shortsighted, and they wanted leaders that were in it for the long haul. Not really sure a hereditary monarchy is the answer, but it is definitely true the politicians of current era are only concerned with the next short term election cycle.

This book does a brilliant job of showing how an army is built up from scratch. The mechanics of a Maoist type guerilla war. Starts with terrorist attacks and assassinations geared toward destabilizing the government. They hope to drive the government to more repressive measures which drive more people to the movement. This is also only sustainable with the help of an outside entity bankrolling it. Ends with an exciting battle and the Crown Prince Lysander the future first emperor making a bold move to win the battle. Although not decisively as there will be a return in the next book.


Copyright 1989.

Falkenberg’s Mercenary Legion has found work on the planet Tanith. Tanith is a penal colony of the CoDominium that Soviet-American alliance that rules Earth. It is an inhospitable planet that has a hot humid climate combined with actual dinosaurs. Its main value is the Borloi the drug used by the Earth governments to keep the masses placated. Currently the rich plantation owners have revolted against the colonial government to sell the Borloi for themselves. They have hired a mercenary unit called Barton’s Bulldogs to help them. The evil senator Bronson is behind this rebellion and wants the Borloi for himself.

Into this comes Prince Lysander one of the future kings of Sparta. He has come to retain the services of Falkenberg to train a standing army because of the growing insurgency on his world. He gets involved with the fight to stop Senator Bronson from taking the Borloi off world. There are also two subplots. One involves a young American taxpayer college student who gets involved in the socialist movement and ends up deported to Tanith as an involuntary colonist. The other is the story of a young idealistic graduate of West Point who joins a rebellion on a colony world.

A Falkenberg Legion book written about ten years after the original stories came out. It is a prequel to Falkenberg before he took the job on New Washington. The story introduces the character of Prince Lysander who eventually becomes the first emperor of humanity after the fall of the CoDominium. It introduces us to the rivalry between Falkenberg and Senator Bronson. The planet Tanith is shown as a very unpleasant place. The current governor is a reformer who wants to end the harsh practice of indentured servitude, which is basically slavery. He supports Admiral Lermontov like Falkenberg to build something stable after the inevitable collapse of the CoDominium.

The subplots give us a good look into the stratified society of America that is divided between an elite taxpayer and welfare dependent citizen class. How an ordinary involuntary colonist gets transported. It also gives us a good look at the operation of the legion. It has a feel of a family with stuff set up like schools for the children and other services to support the dependents. Plus, this shows us the code of honor that mercenaries operate under. Sets up the story where it continues to the planet Sparta.


Copyright 1990.

It is the far future of 2064 and in this alternate timeline, the CoDominium an organization formed by the United States and Soviet Union keep the peace on the colony worlds. John Christian Falkenberg is a young captain sent with his unit of CD marines to Arrarat. The colony has trouble with the various bandit gangs. Made up of forced colonists dumped by Earth, they have taken over vast areas of the countryside and extorting the main settlement with high prices for food. His men have to clear them out while fighting the treachery of the local administration. Told mostly through the eyes of a young lieutenant.

Years later Falkenberg is dismissed from service due to budget cuts. Along with his 42nd CD regiment they form a mercenary group called Falkenberg’s Mercenary Legion. Yet he secretly works for Admiral Lermontov of the fleet to help bring stability to the colonies as the nations of Earth gear toward all-out war. First his Legion goes to Hadley a colony world about to gain independence. The world is flooded with forced colonists from Earth who are about to take over. They would basically ruin the economy and the society would descend into barbarism. Falkenberg manages to successfully establish a government that is stable at the expenses of killing many of the opposition.

Then it is off to New Washington, a colony of dissidents from a colony of dissidents. The parent colony of Franklin has hired mercenaries to suppress the local revolt. Falkenberg’s Legion hires on to the rebel government. Along the way, Falkenberg finds true love and successfully maneuvers himself as the sole army on the colony.

This book is actually two books combined from the seventies. West of Honor and The Mercenary. Obviously, there is some stuff that is dated. A Soviet Union surviving into the 21st century didn’t come close to happening. Also discovering interstellar travel in 2010 and colonizing worlds by 2020 seems centuries away as of 2022. What still is timeless is the two things that Pournelle was a genius at, the politics and war. The politics are very believable and nowadays seem uncomfortable closes to reality. The US is governed by the Unity party which is the Democrats and Republicans joining forces to solidify their hold. A corrupt system propped up by a combination of welfare, repression, ballot box stuffing and dumping troublemakers off world. All against a growing rise of nationalism that threatens all out nuclear war. Anyone these days can see that the wheels of the current world order are coming off. We just don’t have any colonies on other planets to dump malcontents. So, if we blow ourselves up, that’s it for the human race.

The other parts I love are his battle scenes. They have a fast-paced realism to them. He has a knack for this, and one scene is credited as based on a real-life battle of Lt. Zeneke Asfaw, Ethiopian Imperial Guard during the Korean War. The Falkenberg novels are my favorite of his works and I highly recommend them.


Copyright 2020.

It has been thirteen years since Rick Galloway and his CIA mercenaries were rescued from Angola by a UFO. There to be sent to the planet Tran a medieval level planet. Armed with modern weapons they were supposed to carve out a kingdom and grow madweed for an alien race called the Shalnuksis. A planet populated by descendants of humans kidnapped throughout time. A hodgepodge of cultures from Byzantium, Celts, Mongols and Venetians occupies this planet. Rick has managed to get his kingdom, yet life is a constant struggle. Various factions are constantly waging war. Now there are new players. A new group of starmen in the form of Gurkhas have arrived. Also arrived are three mysterious strangers from Earth with three shipping containers filled with knowledge. Knowledge that could help propel Tran into a modern interstellar civilization. First though Galloway has to fight a coalition out to get these containers.

The final book in the Janissaries series. I loved these three books written way back in the seventies and eighties. Then nothing but Pournelle was working on another book. Sadly, he died in 2019 and it looked like we would never get this. Fortunately, most of it was written and he left extensive notes on the conclusion. His son and author David Weber managed to complete it and here it is. I think this the best of the series. At 800 plus pages it is a bit of a doorstop. Yet I was captivated from beginning to end. All the political intrigue both on Tran and this mysterious alien confederation that uses human slaves to administer it. The combat is another thing that he excelled at. It was realistic and fast paced. Weber and his son did a great job of completing the story. It all felt like Pournelle wrote it. Ended very similar to the Falkenberg series with Galloway being proclaimed imperator and basically warlord of Tran.

Mamelukes are the rulers of Egypt that like the Janissaries of the Ottomans were slave soldiers and administrators. Only they ended up taking over the empire. Possibly a hint at the human Janissaries of the alien confederation someday doing the same. The book did leave open the possibility of more and maybe someone will continue the story. Sadly, this reminds me of the loss of a brilliant writer and yet thankful for this closure.



Copyright 1980.

It is the year 3013 and Prince Samuel’s World has been discovered by the Second Empire of Man. Samuel’s world was bombed back to medieval times hundreds of year ago during the secession wars. They have managed to bring themselves to an early twentieth century level when the newly resurgent empire finds them. The nation of Haven uses the empire to subdue the other states to bring them under the unified rule of King David. Only they also find out their planned future under the empire. They will be nothing but a colony to be exploited by the empire. To gain control over their planet they must be a space capable civilization. They hear of a temple on the primitive planet of Makassar that holds the knowledge to build a spaceship.

They hire Nathan MacKinnie a former military colonel from the defeated nation of Orleans. He will lead an expedition to this planet under the cover of being a trade mission. There in the city of Batav he finds his goal besieged by a horde of barbarians. He must form an army and train them in new techniques if he is to save the information that will ensure his planet has some sort of autonomy under the empire.

This is a Pournelle book that somehow escaped my attention. I had heard of it but only until last year did I see it in a used bookstore and decide to get it. After reading it I think this is Pournelle’s finest book. It takes place in his future universe of a Empire of Man ruling after Earth destroys itself in a nuclear war. I loved the complex intrigue and politics that was going on in the story. Pournelle also has a great grasp of military history and you get these elaborate battles from ancient times. Also the exciting ending that uses an old technique theorized back in 1899 to launch a ship into space. A great touch to a story that I wasn’t expecting to love so much. I really recommend this book.



Copyright 1987.

Captain Rick Galloway is still on the planet Tran with his mercenary company. He has successfully formed an alliance between the kingdom of Drantos, Tamaratheon and the Roman Empire. Whats more a renegade faction of mercs lead by corporal Arnold Gengrich have come back giving him needed experienced men. He needs them for there is still plenty of enemies to fight. To the south a religious fanatic who opposes the new merged religion of Yatar and Christianity. To the north is the Five Kingdoms that want to retake Drantos and they outnumber Galloway’s forces by five to one. Only the star weapons and advanced tactics might win the day. All the while the alien confederacy continues to debate the fate of humans on both Tran and Earth.

The third entry in the Janissaries series has what made the first two great. Plenty of set piece battles that could go either way. Medieval intrigue, the threat of aliens bombing them and the approach of the Demon star which will plunge Tran into environmental ruin. We do get more insight into the aliens but it is still fleeting. A good portion involves the Lady Tylara who is feeling guilty for having a trusted friend assassinated. Carodoc a loyal general was married to Gwen Tremaine the girlfriend of the human Les who is working for the alien Shalnuksis. His return threatened to cause a problem that could either disrupt the alliance or anger the aliens. His death made the problems conveniently go away but now she suffers guilt and even tries to commit suicide by charging the enemy alone in battle. She gets captured and manages to bring a count from the enemies side to hers.

So the book ends with them victorious after a big battle. There was obviously supposed to be another book forthcoming. Pournelle and Green for some reason pursued other projects and it was never written. Pournelle had been working on the fourth book Janissaries The Mamelukes. Although Jim Baen didn’t like the title. Probably because most people wouldn’t get the Mameluke reference. The Mamelukes were the Muslin rulers of Egypt and the main rivals of the Ottoman Empire. The Mamelukes were on the losing end and the Ottomans extended their empire into North Africa.

Whatever the title the book is mostly finished but sadly Jerry Pournelle died last year so the future of the book is in doubt. It was supposed to end the story and tie up all the loose threads. I would hope they can find someone to finish it and it gets a release. It would be nice to get some closure to this fascinating and unique series. I guess only time will tell if that happens.



Copyright 1982.

It has been several years since the alien Shalnuksi brought Rick Galloway and his CIA mercenaries from a certain death in Africa to the planet Tran. Now they have settled in with Rick marrying a countess. Most of the mercenaries are now follow him and he has alliance with the kingdom of Drantos and Tameraethon. Time is getting short for him. The Demon Star the third sun of Tran is making its 600 year appearance. He has to start growing the madweed for the aliens. Otherwise they won’t trade ammunition, medicine and other modern necessities they need. The Demon star is already causing massive disruptions in the weather and refugees are starting to pour in from the south. His first move is to form an alliance with Rome. The Romans are in a civil war in no small part to him. His victory over them caused a losing general to revolt. Galloway joins the rebel general to make him Caesar and secure a powerful ally. No sooner than that war is over than another threat from the west. Hordes of Westmen the descendants of the Scythians are coming from the high plains to escape the drought. All this while setting up a university to preserve knowledge for the coming disaster.

The second book sees Roland Green join him in writing. Another excellent book filled with big medieval battles. Throw in some modern weapons to give it an interesting twist. Add to it medieval machine politics and an alien race of drug dealers who are going to bomb the planet back to the stone age so it stays primitive. The main concern is to preserve his new university so knowledge will survive the coming catastrophe. The book does a good job of showing how life was in the middle ages and some of the more simple measures in hygiene to improve society. There is still the threat of the aliens and this mysterious Confederacy. Not much is talked about that which I would have liked to see but there was plenty of time for that in future books. At least at the time it seemed that way. Which we will go over in the next book.



Copyright 1979.

Captain Rick Galloway is the head of a group of CIA mercenaries in an unnamed African country. They are their to help the local rebels overthrow the Marxist government. Unfortunately thing didn’t turn out good and now they find themselves on a hill surrounded by Cuban troops. They can either surrender and get a public show trial before they are executed or die fighting. Then a miracle happens. A flying saucer lands and offers to take them to safety. With no other option they quickly accept and are flown to a secret base on the Moon.

It is here they find the real reason they were rescued. The aliens want Galloway and his mercenaries to go to the planet Tran. A planet that is inhabited by humans that have been stolen from different periods and is in a medieval state. Every six hundred years a third sun comes and makes the growing of a drug feasible. The aliens want Galloway to use his modern weapons and establish control of an area to grow this drug.

With little options he agrees and are taken to Tran. Soon after landing Andre Parsons one of the mercs stages a coup and deposes Galloway as leader. With the pregnant girlfriend of their human pilot and one deserter from the mercs he heads out alone. Along the way they link up with Tylara who is a deposed countess and head to her family lands of Tamaerthon a people descended from Celts. With Galloway’s help they organize modern pike formations and take on the Empire of Rome. Galloway is establishing himself but there is a greater threat from the aliens and the Galactic Confederation they belong to.

The first in the Janisarries series by Pournelle. I think it is one of my favorites of his work. It has the common themes to his stories i.e. a decadent stagnant society vs. the human desire to grow through technological advancement. In this instance the Galactic Confederacy is a collection of alien races that has ruled for over five thousands years. They do it by keeping the peace through stagnation and no change. Also they use humans as Janissaries. Janissaries were the slave soldiers and administrators of the Ottoman Empire. They took as tribute the first Christian son from a family and raised him. A successful system that saw them eventually becoming the power brokers of the Ottoman Empire. They grew too powerful and had to be disbanded. So humans in this Confederacy are the Janissaries of the Confederation. Now with Earth starting to advance into space the Confederacy is looking at options to force them into the Confederation and control them or bomb them back to the stone age. Some of the human slaves work to conceal Tran in the hope it can be a bastion of human freedom.

I really think this is a unique story idea. Taking a group of modern mercenaries kidnapped by alien drug dealers and dropping them on a medieval planet. There is plenty of adventure in the realistic battles fought. There is the medieval intrigue of Tran plus the threat of the aliens as Rick Galloway tries to build an empire on Tran to save it from the coming catastrophe. Galloway eventually kills Parsons and reestablishes control of the mercenaries which is where the first book ends.




The Fithp an alien race that resemble baby elephants have come to Earth to conquer. They are a herd mentality species. In their world when two herds meet they fight one another until the one surrenders. Then the losing herd is incorporated into the winning herd. The Fithp seem confused when humans attempt to initiate peaceful contact first. Also the humans seem to not know how to properly surrender.

The initial acts of the Fithp is to destroy the space station in orbit then bomb all the bridges, dams and roads on the planet. They then follow with an invasion of Kansas demanding complete submission. The U.S. and Soviets respond with a nuclear attack on Kansas to drive them off. The Fithp retaliate by dropping a large asteroid into the Indian ocean killing millions. A successful invasion of Africa follows.

The only chance for the humans is to build a ship powered by nuclear explosions to take on the mother ship in orbit.

The cover says that this is probably the finest novel of alien invasion ever written and I agree. I received the hardcover edition as a Christmas present back in 1985. It made me a fan of Niven and Pournelle. I have since read many of their books. This is probably my favorite.

What I like is that the aliens are truly alien. They have a completely different physical and psychological makeup yet each character has his own emotions and personality. The cast of characters both alien and human is diverse. The technology sounds realistic and plausible. The Orion ship powered by nuclear explosions is actually a real concept.

So if you like epic alien invasion stories than this is a must have for your library.