Friday, March 11, 2011

Special Ops

Special Ops (Brotherhood of War, Book 9)

"Special Ops" could easily have been the eighth book of the series and "The Aviators" could have been skipped altogether. In fact, Special Ops picks up almost immediately where "The New Breed" left off. Jack Portet had just finished helping the Belgian paratroopers liberate his family from Stanleyville in the Congo and was being reunited with Marjorie Bellmon. However, just because one crisis in the Congo was averted it doesn't mean everything had settled down. In fact new international intrigue is just about to start with the arrival of Che Guevara from Cuba in a hope to drive the fascist, imperialist, pigs out and bring communism to the people.

Honestly this book isn't really about Guevara much either - except as a way to document his overall ineptitude at being a guerrilla leader. Instead, I think, it is more of an opportunity to introduce Argentina, of all places, to W.E.B. Griffin's fans - a locale he revisits in some of the books in his other series dealing with the O.S.S. and the German's in WW2. About 1/5 of this story takes place in Argentina presumably to show the US intelligence gathering techniques which are used to track Guevara. Overall this book didn't really have much of a purpose in relation to the initial "Brotherhood of War Series" and I found it a general letdown as a sequel to "The New Breed."

The worst part of this book was the end of it. A huge portion of the story is told via memo's between the Special Forces detachment (17) in the Congo and Stanford Felter in Washington DC. It was as if even Griffin realized he didn't have a story to tell so he just gave up on it, went to the bank, and cashed his royalty check. Some people may appreciate the memorandum style but, for me, it was off-putting. Typically, in the series, when I saw the memo format I would just gloss over it. However, in this story you can't or you'll actually miss a large part of the story.

In other words this couldn't have been a much worse book to finish the series with (though, "The Aviators" would have been an even worse final book - I'll discuss that in it's own review). I realize he left a few things hanging at the end of "The New Breed" but the series would have been better off had he just stopped there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

This is the first book I've read on my Kindle. I was able to download it for free from Google Books and I'm glad I did. To tell the truth I didn't even know this was a book until I stumbled across it. I guess I should have known better but it just never showed up on my radar before now.

The title of the book is The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood for a reason; it is more of a series of short stories featuring Robin and his band of Merry men than one long story about Robin. If you've seen any of the Robin hood movies you've seen a couple of the short stories merged into one longer whole but, for the most part, there are a lot of Robin's tales you haven't' experienced yet.

My favorite Robin Hood movie is the animated Disney classic. It incorporates a couple of the merry adventures, such as the archery tournament; but, interestingly Prince John (the phony king of England) isn't really a problem for Robin most of the time. Instead, the Sheriff of Nottingham is. However, even the Sheriff isn't really all that evil and instead is just incompetent and a bit afraid of Robin.

Interestingly I'm glad I had just finished Ken Follett's "Pillars of the Earth" before reading this as I had a better understanding of the roles of various religious figures as well as what it meant to be the Sheriff.

The language, while often archaic, is pretty easy to read and understand and the book, as a whole, was fun. I recommend it.