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Set part way through the war raging across the Andromeda galaxy in the 41st century, Recon One-Five is intended to be an entry point to the Nineteen Galaxies novels. Explaining the events of the war thus far and not quite as continuity heavy as some previous instalments, it focuses upon a single operation on one world. An effort by an isolated platoon of Terrans to break a deadlock with the alien Jalic, turning the tide in a two hundred day conflict which has cost the lives of billions.
Deployed and ordered to initiate an assault upon the capital planet Nano Rimmo, the elite 908th “Pathfinders” Special Infantry Regiment finds itself struck by disaster at every turn. Ambushed in an ion storm with many of their number dead or MIA, it falls to 15th platoon to fight their way out and finish the battle the regiment couldn’t.
The book begins sometime before this outlining the war and giving a glossary for various terms and military jargon. Beginning with the arrival of the Jalic in the Andromeda galaxy and the various efforts by the Terrans to drive them from their territory. It reads more like something you’d expect to find in an Imperial Armour book than in a full novel, but does help to impress upon the reader the length of the war. The only problem is that while this is interesting, many elements go unused within the novel itself and serve as more of a backdrop.
When the novel begins in full it follows the initial airborne disaster the blurb hinted at, the Pathfinders entering the ion storm and the ambush which takes out most of the regiment. While on the one hand it was good to actually have a blub not spoil half the story and the background lead directly into events, it did give very little time to establish the characters. We only see them for a short period of time prior to the engagement. While they are simple enough to gauge in this time, there’s not enough of real reason to connect to them at first. Thankfully by the time dropships finish being swatted out of the skies and events move onto ground, you have a good idea of who is who. It’s just an awkward start to the tale jumping from one event to the next.