Sabrina's Reviews > The Amazon Legion

The Amazon Legion by Tom Kratman
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Apr 12, 12

bookshelves: fantasy-and-sci-fi
Read in April, 2012

I picked up this book for train-wreck reasons, expecting an adolescent male sex fantasy I could laugh at, but found something completely different.

Instead, Mr. Kratman follows the training and military career of a single mother, Maria Fuentes, desperate to provide for her toddler. She joins the first set of recruits for the first all-female infantry in the also desperate country of Balboa.

But the book is more than just Maria's story. Mr. Kratman explores the psychological and practical problems of training women to fight on the front lines, and how their presence affects the overwhelmingly male majority of this planet's armed forces.

For example, a group of the most attractive graduated female soldiers are used in a promotional recruitment advertisement...and the video increases the MALE enlistments, while reducing the female.

The physical limitations of women are also flat-out addressed in the book. The female platoons are a third larger than their male counterparts, to account for maternity leave without significant reduction in strength, and because it takes more women (and a couple mules!) to carry the same amount of supplies. Also they are NOT issued smaller and lighter weapons, because the price and hassle of manufacturing and shipping them isn't worth the inevitable resulting SNAFU.

My favorite segment dealt with the women learning how to drive tanks. Almost none of them learned to drive cars in their civilian life, so they do not have any ingrained habits when it comes to driving tanks. Who needs to follow a road? Who cares if there's a patch of trees blocking the shortest route? And apparently jumping a tank at speed over a creek is a great deal of fun. Particularly when it makes their instructors turn a bit pale. Haha!

The novel does not gloss over the horrors of war. Indeed, the opening scene is a flash-forward where the women are sent into their first actual battle in a way reminiscent of the Charge of the Light Brigade. Beloved characters are killed, tortured, maimed, and occasionally even survive.

The Amazon Legion was fascinating to me, particularly since it explored the psychological and political problems of an all-female infantry. I've always said technology is the great equalizer between the sexes, but it is interesting to see how that is true, within physical limits.

I plan to propose this book to my sci-fi book club in the future. It can generate some amazing discussion!
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