BLOODSTAR by Ian Douglas
Ian Douglas is getting a lot of accolades of late for his science fiction military novels, and those praises are well deserved. He’s been writing trilogies about men on the front line, on interstellar space carriers, and battles that span solar systems.
His latest trilogy focuses on the Marine Corpsmen, those valiant soldiers that double as medics on the battlefield and have to serve double duty: fighting toe-to-toe with the enemy while keeping their wounded and themselves alive. Douglas was a medic in the military, so his character’s emotional state at different times is well represented.
As always in a Douglas novel, the author has done his research and sits down to unveil the future with mercurial ease as he takes a good knowledge of medicine and extrapolates it into the future. The ease that he unveils the medical cases – their causes and their resolution – is great. I enjoyed the medical parts of the novel as much as I did the battle scenes, which is something I didn’t expect. I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the next couple books.
This book was different for Douglas as well. Usually his science fiction military novels have been told in the third person and a handful of characters or more are brought on stage. This story is told in first person, and the worldview is somewhat truncated, the immersion into the scenes is complete. Elliot Carlyle (Ecar to his buddies) is a great character filled with history, goals, and human frailty. I liked him from the first page and felt like I was his wingman throughout the whole adventure.
Interestingly enough, this novel made me feel like I was reading an old Robert A. Heinlein novel, something I hadn’t before experienced while reading a Douglas book. I think that feeling has to do with the first-person point of view, but there’s also the way the author shows Ecar’s downtime, too. Ecar hangs with his buddies, tells us their stories, and is very genuine in his dealings with them as well as with his own state of mind.
I was surprised at how little surface action actually takes place in this novel. There are battles, but they seemed like small cogs in this machine while the major nuts and bolts were the character and the challenges he faced in learning his craft and staying on point to advance his career. I truly enjoyed that because I finished up feeling like I really know Ecar and want to see more of his adventures in the coming books.