Jason's Reviews > The Final Battle

The Final Battle by William C. Dietz
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Jun 26, 2011

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Recommended for: Science fiction fans
Read from May 31 to June 26, 2011 , read count: 1

I enjoyed reading The Legion of the Damned, and though it had its problems, I looked forward to reading the second book in the series. I was never able to find it in local bookstores though, and my wife ordered it for my 32nd birthday.

Summary
Nearly twenty years after the alien beings known as the Hudathans were defeated at the Battle of Algeron and the human imperial government collapsed, the Hudathan prisoners, including War Leader Poseen-Ka, are kept on Worber’s World. The planet’s surface was destroyed during the previous war, and now kept under constant surveillance by an armored space station controlled by Poseen-Ka’s previous prisoner, General Natalie Norwood.

Meanwhile, on Earth, William Booly Jr., the son of the deserter Booly from the first book and a half-breed of human and Naa parents, is graduating from the academy to take his place in the Legion, which is what the French Foreign Legion has evolved into over hundreds of years of numerous governments.

But the peace will not last long. The Hudathans have developed their own cybernetic warriors to challenge the Legion, and plans are underway to free Poseen-Ka from Worber’s World and begin a final battle to extinguish all non-Hudathan life from the galaxy...

OVERALL: 2.6
Dietz follows up an above-average book with... another above average book. The Final Battle is good science fiction, but not very good military science fiction since so much of the story is about the peripheral and background issues of the war.

A good example is the arguable primary protagonist, William Booly Jr. He is graduating from the Academy at the beginning, given an assignment on a semi-hostile world that seems to last a couple of weeks at the most, and is suddenly a seasoned veteran?

I guess part of my problem is that I always expected these books to focus more on the actual Legion of the Damned, the cyborgs who make of the Legion’s most elite troops. Unfortunately the first book has more about them than this one; here they are mostly window dressing.

I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that the final battle of the book was unpredictable, and I was almost expecting a really different turn that would have led off to an amazing series of books... but the author doesn’t follow it and takes the more predictable path instead.

Lastly, I will recommend Poseen-Ka any day of the week. He’s a magnificent villain, alien and yet able to relate to. I remember enjoying his scenes in the first book, and he does not disappoint in The Final Battle.

RATINGS BY CATEGORY
Characters: 2
Except for the Hudathan antagonist, Poseen-Ka, everyone in the book felt like “paint-by-the-numbers”. Motivations and histories are provided, and it just didn’t take for me. The characters aren’t bad, they just aren’t anything special either.

All the females in the story seem to be particularly promiscuous, which feels corny and more of a “male fantasy”, where a girl can’t go twenty seconds without thinking about the opposite sex (or the same sex, in one character’s case).

Poseen-Ka, as in the first book, remains an incredible presence whenever he appears. One scene in the second half of the book, when he taunts a Hudathan bureaucrat by jokingly demanding which of his lieutenants are secretly human spies, was the final piece that completed the perfection of this character. I would read books about him alone (make no mistake, he is a bad guy, but he is the kind of villain that is wonderful to watch, like Cobra Commander).

Pace: 3
There were only a few times when the story really slowed down, and that is usually when an uninteresting character is dwelled upon.

Story: 3
There are some things here that should be interesting but aren’t; the entire storyline of the Hegemony (a human civilization based on clones) comes to mind. I think even Dietz grew bored with it, because the entire plot thread is kind of dropped before the book ends.

Cybernetic Hudathan troops seems like the obvious course to take in a sequel, but it is handled okay. They don’t really get enough “screen time”, given one of them is on the cover.

Where the writer really branches out and starts exploring new ground is with the new, improved Trooper III cyborgs utilized by the Legion. I didn’t see that coming, and it’s a brilliant way to upgrade the idea. Like the Hudathan cyborgs, the idea doesn’t get enough attention.

My biggest problem with the story is that a war begins and is mostly glossed over. Most of the narrative takes place in the preparation, political maneuvering and espionage, and personal issues of the characters. That’s all good, but at times it was easy to forget what was even threatening everybody...

Dialogue: 3
Most of the dialogue is good, though it tends to be contrived when it’s being spoken by a female (at least in my opinion). There are also some cases when characters are overly friendly for no reason (the author apparently wants them to be friends), etc. I realize that some people just hit it off sometimes, but it can be too... convenient.

Poseen-Ka, true to his character, always delivers great dialogue.

Style/Technical: 2
The writing is clear, even during large battles in space and on ground (which is no easy feat), but Dietz likes to jump around in the viewpoint character without so much as a break in the paragraph. One moment you are with Booly Jr., commanding his troops, and the next you’re in some other character. I don’t mind changing viewpoints, but not in the thick of the narrative. It’s like hitting a master “reset” button that drained the excitement out of me.

Also, several important characters are introduced nearly halfway through the book (or longer), including a legionnaire testing the new Trooper III systems, a spy, and a scientist who becomes a naval captain. I think if these people are important, they should have had some exposure earlier in the book.

Finally, and this is really not the author’s fault... his action scenes are readable and enjoyable, but they lack the hard impact. It’s not just that I didn’t care much about the characters; his writing lacks the ability to really take me into the action and make me feel like I am in the middle of it. Maybe Robert E. Howard has spoiled me, and I know I can’t expect that from every author, but I thought the action scenes could have been better.
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06/09/2011 page 123
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