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Merkiaari Wars #1

Hard Duty: Merkiaari Wars

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Humanity's last encounter with aliens saw sixteen point two billion people killed in a war with the Merkiaari that had spanned decades.

Two hundred years later, the Alliance is cautiously exploring beyond its borders again, but the survey corp. is considered a mere gesture by some. General Burgton of the 501st Infantry Regiment believes a lack of expansion is leading the Alliance into stagnation. So when one small ship discovers a new alien race, it should be an easy decision to make contact, but what if the aliens are like the Merkiaari?

Captain Jeff Colgan of the survey ship ASN Canada is at the tip of the spear. His ship made the discovery, his crew's lives are on the line, and his decisions will decide the outcome. Will the Alliance make new friends or will he be responsible for another sixteen billion deaths? When the aliens discover his ship and begin hunting him through their system, his mission changes from one of study to one of survival.

388 pages, Paperback

First published August 11, 2012

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About the author

Mark E. Cooper

22 books226 followers
Incursion: Merkiaari Wars 5 is out now (11/11/2016) http://www.impulsebooks.co.uk/incursion/

Mark E. Cooper lives alone in a small town in the south of England, where he writes most mornings and evenings. His background is in mechanical engineering where he spent over thirty years working for Ford. He loves reading about strong female characters and can often be found laughing to himself as he listens to a book on his iPod.

His hobbies include driving his cobra--a V12 monster he built with his best friend--reading fantasy and sci-fi, and maintaining his blog at http://www.impulsebooks.co.uk/markcoo...

He is now the author of more than eight titles in the genres he loves to read.

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5 stars
527 (30%)
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721 (41%)
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363 (20%)
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90 (5%)
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46 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 112 reviews
Profile Image for Jim.
960 reviews38 followers
April 7, 2021
I actually started reading the second book in this series until I realized that there was a series. So, I got as far as the third chapter in the second book (What Price Honor) and stopped to read this one. I'm very glad I did. Right up front, these are very well written books for Amazon ebooks. I have gotten very skeptical of Amazon ebooks lately since they are so cheap you almost expect and I have been getting what I paid for, cheaply written, hard to read books! Again, not so with Hard Duty nor with the follow-on.

The writing flows smoothly and is effortless to read. What does make these books very interesting is the fact that there are actually several stores told, each separately with very little tie-in until I believe the very last. This is about an Earth-led Alliance making first contact with a new alien race, the Shan. It is also introduces us to a group of warriors called Vipers who will play a very important part in the upcoming Merkiarri War. Now Earth has already met and defeated the Merkiarri but that alien race is all about conquest. You do not have peace with the Merkiarri until every one of them are dead! Earth has learned a hard lesson in that while we thought we were alone in the entire universe and tried every which way we knew to make contact with other life, that other life found us quite easily and wanted to destroy us! Not what we had planned.

Still, we have set out to still find other civilizations, if they exist, but we do so very, very quietly. We have found the Shan and have studied them for some time. They have also had their run-in with the Merkairri and are just now recovering. They do not explore outside their solar system but have been able to develop adequate defenses against future Merkairri attacks, or so they believe.

An Earth exploratory scientific vessel has found the Shan doing exactly what Earth did to attract the Merkairri. We want to warn them but don't want them to think we are hostile. How the Captain of the Earth ship Canada does his mission in relation to the Shan is a fascinating story.

Then the Merkairri attack!
Profile Image for Lukas Lovas.
1,180 reviews62 followers
April 2, 2014
Well, this book could have had 5/5....but I hate cliffhangers with a passion. I don't mind a plot being spread out over several books, I don't need each of them to be a standalone...but I do need at least some sort of....ending. Finishing up. Not leave stuff hanging....
Other than the end which wasn't an end, the book was quite good. The alien culture was just alien enough to be alien, but not so much that I couldn't relate. The main POV characters were strong and talented, and mostly likeable. Plot is good - not what I expected, but gripping and thoughtprovoking (sometimes).
It reminds me a bit of the old hard SF, but written with the newer styles and different emphasis.
Profile Image for David Traver Adolphus.
62 reviews2 followers
May 30, 2014
There's good painfully earnest self-published work--then there's bad painfully earnest self-published work. Good is something like Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International; bad is, well, bad is Hard Duty. The combination of too much of the wrong kind of exposition (ie, details about a hotel room but not about why the protagonist is 200 years old), and many, many typographical and grammatical errors, just makes it unreadable. If there was an editor and copyeditor involved, I'll eat my hat. I walked away.
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,602 reviews414 followers
December 12, 2013
-Lo de siempre pero entretenido.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. La nave ASN Canada está en misión de exploración más allá de los Mundos Fronterizos y detecta una transmisión inteligente desconocida. El capitán Colgan y su tripulación proceden con muchísima cautela, porque la última vez que ocurrió algo parecido hace un par de siglos se encontraron los Merkiaari y la guerra que tuvo lugar casi termina con la especie humana. Eric Penleigh fue uno de los soldados Vipers, cyborgs de combate, que luchó contra ellos y todavía sueña con la Batalla de San Luis de la que terminó siendo uno de los pocos supervivientes del Grupo Especial de Asalto. Primer libro de la serie Merkiaari Wars.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for David.
4 reviews1 follower
August 18, 2014
The book lacked editorial organization. Viper plot line may have a story that becomes important in a later book but it added nothing to this one. The story is mostly consistent but feels more like a series of vignettes sewn together in an unbalanced way. There are a couple of spelling errors likely caused by a spell checker replacing with the wrong word. I got the book for free and it is an e-publishing. The style of writing and content of the story was interesting but it needed a better focus on the topic and formation of the story.
Profile Image for Nooilforpacifists.
856 reviews34 followers
January 29, 2018
After a military prelude, this starts as hard, first-contact SF. Then there’s a shift in narrative perspective from the alien POV the borders on fantasy—not my favorite genre. When the feces hit the rotating element at the end, the two threads merge, though it remains unclear (in the sequels) just when the military will come in, guns-a-blazing.

Above-average writing. Might reëvaluate toward 4 stars should I read sequel.
Profile Image for Michael Mardel.
28 reviews
January 12, 2016
Hard duty by Cooper I found to be a complex story in two parts. First I meet Eric and then I meet the humans and then I meet the Shan with the main character being Shima. All characters are well developed and I felt positive toward Eric despite his mission. Will he make it out of the jungle where he's been infiltrating a guerilla movement? The next leap is the humans who want to warn the Shan about the enemy, Merkiaari. Will they stay and fight or are the Merkiaari too strong? Some of the humans have been left on Harmony so we see the reinforcements that the Shan have set up to survive. Great descriptions of life in space and how they all communicate.
Profile Image for Carly Kirk.
803 reviews6 followers
June 17, 2016
I cannot even explain how much I enjoyed this book! It's well written with characters you care about (even one that annoyed me to no end - I wanted to slap her silly) and even though it follows a lot of different characters it never got confusing. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
1 review
September 21, 2019
Wonderful modern sci-fi. Imaginative and we'll plotted native. Feels scientifically accurate and makes me want to buy more from this Author.
Profile Image for Jyoti Dahiya.
160 reviews9 followers
August 20, 2019
Ok, so this is why authors give away the first book in a series for free. Salivating readers rush off to buy the rest for full money and feel gleeful about the whole thing.

There are at least four separate main characters whose points of view you meet in the book. Each time, you're sure you know this one is the main character. You feel grumpy when the action shifts to another character. And then you feel grumpy again. And again. Heh!

We have Capt Colgan, who discovers an alien planet, sends off a message to Earth, and then sneaks up very very quietly to check out the new aliens. The extreme caution is because Earth and its 248 subsidiary planets plus the 'independents' have already been attacked by raving monster aliens, the Merkiaari.

Then we meet Eric the viper soldier, a cybernetically and otherwise enhanced warrior that hundreds of years of peace don't know what to do with, so he's sent off to infiltrate terrorists and other suchlike jobs for the General. He's tired, he's cynical, he's undercover.

Aha, but that's not all. We meet Shima, one of the newly discovered aliens, and we get to know about their society and outlook. And we get hints why their very peaceful and Harmony-based culture has so many spaceships set for battle.

And then we meet a bunch of scientists who are sent off to investigate the new aliens, and establish first contact, if humanly possible.

And we meet, in passing, the evil Merkiaari.

And then suddenly, the day is not over but the book is over, and I'm turning the last page. And reaching for my wallet.

I often wonder how people bore the tension of the wait for the publication of the next book in the Lord of the Rings or Chandrakanta (both series that took years to reach the end and had millions of fans lining up and rioting to grab the books hot off the presses). Fortunately, the next book is out, and in these internet days, instantly available.
Profile Image for Cathy.
1,582 reviews233 followers
Shelved as 'owned-unread'
April 22, 2017
Free give-away by the author, thank you very much! Review will follow.
Profile Image for William Bentrim.
Author 64 books58 followers
April 2, 2014
Hard Duty by Mark E. Cooper

This is book one of the Merkiaari Wars. A survey ship stumbles across a radio transmission that isn't the Merkiaari. Desperate for allies in their stalmated war with the Merkiaari, they make contact with the Shan. The Shan have had their own experiences with the Merkiaari and are as distrustful as the humans.

The survey ship Canada is ill equipped to make first contact with an alien race. They send home for help and get a ship load of academics who quickly discover that reality is different than the classroom.

The story within the story deals with the Vipers. Vipers are enhanced humans who were the deciding factor in keeping the Merkiaari from overwhelming mankind. The fighting abilities of the Vipers and the vastly enhanced skill set also keeps them from re-melding with normals. Their commander uses them as troubleshooter to keep order in the human empire.

The Shan are an interesting alien race that the author has done a nice job in a contrast and comparison with humans and the ensuing interaction. The book has plenty of action and I hope to read more from Cooper.

I recommend it.

web site: http://www.impulsebooks.co.uk/blog/
Profile Image for Francis Franklin.
Author 13 books55 followers
December 18, 2014
I'm only 15% in so this isn't a review, just a comment.

The narrative is very focussed on Eric - on his thoughts and abilities and actions - so that everything around him lacks real clarity and depth. It's also disingenuous in that while Eric is awesomely capable, the relative technology level of those around him is incoherent. (This is a real problem faced by science fiction generally - as soon as you get into details of technology, you're doomed. And the further into the future you go, the worse it gets.) For example, here we are, hundreds of years in the future, on another planet, part of a space-faring diaspora that has overcome even the limitations of relativity, and yet ordinary people only have pocket computers and (separately) communicators?

But that was just the nail in the coffin. It's quite frustrating to have a teaser prologue and then set off on a story that seems to have no relevance to the prologue. No doubt the connection will become clearer, but 15% is a lot to read without any hint of a connection.
Profile Image for Darlene.
501 reviews29 followers
August 28, 2016
I thought this was a great book. Humanity finding another alien race to ally with against a common enemy. There was, however, a side story about a super marine posing as a mercenary. I assume his story line would eventually tie in with the other one. Beyond good character development and a good story the one thing that bothered me was that the book ended too abruptly. I realize it's a series but this book forces you to read the next book to find out what happens. No ends are tied up. I feel there should have been some closure with some tidbits left over to make me want to read on. I will however like to read the next book just to see what happens.
Profile Image for Allan Ashinoff.
Author 3 books10 followers
May 12, 2013
I downloaded this book for free on Amazon. Good story, could use come editing thought...most obvious are common words like realize and civilization which lack the Z and instead have an S in its place. Further, I think the dual plots could be weaved closer together. By this I mean switching back and forth throughout the book rather than starting on one storyline then abandoning it for the rest of the novel. I enjoyed the story enough to buy its sequel and hope the author understands, as I would, that this review is not in any way condemnation.
May 24, 2017

Multiple threads and plots but well thought out and written. Outstanding First Contact, could be used as a guide for future exploration and contact. A bit too much prose when told through Shima's eyes but not enough to distract from the overall story. It did take me a bit to get back to Eric's story when it jumped back to him towards the end of the book. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
Profile Image for John.
411 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2015
Surprisingly I give it a 4 .. it is not a 4 in my normal rating criteria. But in its genre it is. It is your typical book of this type but for some reason I cannot grasp it is better than most of them. Still in the B grade arena but at a higher level. This probably makes no sense as I cannot pick why it is better than others of the same class :)
33 reviews
July 20, 2020
There could be a decent book somewhere in here, but there are way too many issues with it. The pacing is very uneven, with some sections being very fast paced and a lot of events being somewhat glossed over. Then there are sections that are told in extreme detail to the point where it becomes too much. There is one plot line that seems to be entirely a setup for the rest of the series. It's completely unconnected to the main story and just goes nowhere, while explaining nothing by itself.
The alien species is done pretty well and interesting, but I guess there is a bit of uncanny valley effect with the humans. Some of the human dialogue varies between completely unbelievable and atrocious. Especially among the scientists. With humans it's just easy to tell when something is off. These people are supposed to be in their 50s but especially during the completely unnecessary love scenes they come off as badly written teenagers.
The battle scenes are gripping enough, but nothing special. Just the typical genre stuff. Distances seem to be handled with little thought. Depending on the needs of the plot the solar system is either big enough to play hide and seek for weeks or the being able to be crossed in minutes.
Acronyms are handled terribly, with the full meaning always added in parentheses. There are a handful of sections where text is repeated verbatim. An editor would probably have caught this.
And of course the whole book ends of a cliffhanger that's not even done particularly well. Cliffhangers can be fine, but the book just ends in the middle with none of the plotlines being resolved.

It's a shame because the world building is interesting, the first contact situation was done relatively well, and there is still enough story there to hold your attention. But it really needs a lot more polishing.
Profile Image for Tristan.
1,032 reviews12 followers
April 24, 2019
As far as first encounter / military sci-fi novels go, this one isn’t too bad.

It has too many narrative streams with too many different basic styles to hold my attention for long (space opera on board the contact vessel, tough guy cyborg going undercover in a security sting, family soap opera amongst the aliens, bickering lovelorn academics drafted in to make sense of the discovery, etc). Nevertheless, it is written competently enough to avoid skipping whole sections. The action set pieces are well done.

The nice idea is that this is second xeno species the Earth encounters, the first encounter having been an instant and uncomprehending clash resulting in war and standoff. This time, Earth hopes to find an ally against the evil Merkiaari. Hence diplomacy and politics are in the foreground, as are efforts for mutual understanding. That aside, it’s all rather predictable and brings nothing much new to the table.

It’s a bit slow and talky to the two-thirds point, and the romance aspects are unnecessary distractions. Then it becomes a bit more frantic, an alien invasion thriller set on an alien world.

After an all-too-brief glimpse at the cyborg’s activities (the two main plot lines never properly join up) there is the abrupt mid-action ending that seems increasingly typical of independently published series. That’s always annoying.

Nevertheless, this is an okay read and I might look up the next volume sometime, but I won’t go out of my way.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
39 reviews
October 5, 2017
I am torn about how to rate this. The storyline is very well done and very interesting - years after a devastating war, humanity reaches out for first contact, and then the aliens we thought we had beaten come back.

The Shan are described in a full way, giving them a reasonably rich culture and identity. It's obvious the author spent some time researching large cats (OK, minor spoiler there). The first contacts between the humans and the Shan are well-written and carefully thought out, although it seems like the Shan become more accepting of humans at a relatively fast pace.

There is an unconnected storyline of a super-soldier that takes up the first portion of the book and then comes back with a seemingly random chapter at the end. I'm not sure how it fits in (but that's only after reading this one book - it might get explained in future books).

There are some minor grammatical and typographical errors, but nothing so bad they take away from the overall experience.

I will probably add the rest of the series to my "to read" list.
Profile Image for Buzz H..
155 reviews23 followers
November 12, 2022
This book feels like "Heinlein Junior". It's an alien first contact space opera that is, eh, sort of okay. The author commits a sin common in SF--the aliens are 'humans in funny costumes'. Having read many authors whose aliens are really alien or at least approaching such, it is disappointing to run into a story like this one.

Very minor spoilers ahead.

There are a number of things in Hard Duty that would have benefitted from deeper thought by the author. Why does an alien race that has had no contact with other alien civilizations maintain an extensive space navy in their own system? What are the long-term psychological consequences to cyborg soldiers whose lifespans are extended long past human-typical and who are psychologically burdened with eidetic memory of brutal combat? Mr. Cooper skims over the surface of these issues but does not give them the consideration that they really need.
26 reviews1 follower
July 25, 2017
This is promising but needs work. There are typos that are distracting, and it needs editing; sometimes it is repetitive even within the one paragraph. There are some annoyingly unrealistic situations that are required for plot advancement (couldn't you send a broadcast message instead of risking 2 lives? Why would a Captain take a jumpy and irritated junior colleague into what must be a very senstive situation?). The structure of the story doesn't work. Instead of intercutting, we follow the Viper story intially and this seems to lead no-where (presumably to become important in later books?); we then follow a solid block of the alien story. I have started book 2, but the introduction of another thread with no apparent relevance to the alien story is leaving me ready to give up.
Profile Image for Adam Windsor.
Author 1 book4 followers
December 7, 2017
I liked a lot about this book. The bulk of it is a fun first contact + Sf warfare page turner. But man, there are a couple of major structural issues.

Issue number 1 is that chapters 1, 2 and 26 are devoted to a storyline that has NO intersection with the rest of this book. Presumably it will in a later book, but why not hold these chapters over for that later volume?

The section is the ham-handed use of multiple cliffhangers at the end. Yes, I understand that you want me to buy book 2. You know how you do that? **Write a satisfying book one**. Books without proper endings are not generally satisfying.

If I do pick up book 2, it will be despite the cliffhangers, not because of them.
Profile Image for Michael.
Author 28 books32 followers
September 22, 2017
This one had a lot of potential with an interesting background and possible plot. However, there are multiple story lines that leave you hanging unless you buy the other books in the series. The ending was very rushed, almost as if the author was tired of writing. I won’t be going further with the series as there were numerous typos, misspelled words, and incomplete / runon sentence that were just plain annoying: combined with having to buy the next book in the series to find out some type of conclusion, life is just too short. I would recommend giving this one a pass as I felt like I wasted my time. Luckily, I picked this one up for free during a promotion which adds one star to my review.
Profile Image for Daniel Hamad.
214 reviews3 followers
March 28, 2019
Oh wow is this clearly self-published. There's literally sections copied from one another. Please hire an editor for copy, but also please do some market testing and feedback before releasing this drivel.

Beyond a myriad of other issues, it seems like in the future there's no tactical planning on organization in battles... wonder where that became irrelevant.

On the plus side, the universe is intriguing.

I almost gave it 3 stars because it's still a fun read, but I just can't.

Now the question is whether I bother with the next one or not. The fact that it's self published (and thus, not available in libraries) makes it harder to consider with such a poor first showing.
13 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2021
Parts of the book were ok, but other parts were just mind boggling. A nation living in many solar systems on many different planets, meets a new alien species and sends 12 people to investigate? And the people are not screened or anything, but literally just grabbed off the street. Medical check-ups are optional, so is security in being in close proximity to the alien species. The book gives off the impression that it tells the story not of interplanetary species composed of billions, but two villages who just did not have the manpower to enlist professionals, so their leadership is composed of amateurs.
Profile Image for Katya.
94 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2017
Got this as a free copy on Kobo, and at first it seemed interesting, but the amount of head jumping between characters, lack of general story structure, as well as some minor misspellings, have put me off going past the first 50% of the book. I realise that this is the first in the series, so a lot of world building must be done, but Hard Duty appears to be making a rather poor job in it - there appears to be a little too much of thinking done by the characters to explain things to the reader whilst they aren't doing much, if anything.
February 15, 2018
Yep, this is it. The book I’ve been looking for since finishing with the Honor Harrington series and until the next instalment of Frontlines, Odyssey One and Hayden War Cycle series.

It’s got decent space combat, land combat and most importantly characters that are developed and fleshed out throughout the book. It isn’t just one massive battle but the action sequences are interesting and even the bits around the action Steve a purpose other than just filling space and splitting up battles unlike some books.

Onto book 2!
Profile Image for Jim Kratzok.
1,068 reviews2 followers
July 23, 2019

Looks like I have a new series to read! The Merkiaari are some really bad dudes. They messed up humanity before being driven off and they also nearly wiped out the Shan, a felinoid species that humans recently discovered. So can humans and Shan become allies? Naturally! Because, aside from a basic compatibility and apparently shared values, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. But there are a couple of other subplots going on that I haven't figured out yet. I guess it's time for book 2.
1,104 reviews9 followers
April 14, 2020
A very well written book. It introduced a number of characters with varying degrees of attention by the author. The characters did not all come together before the book ended.

This book barely stands on it's own. The reason being that most of the characters are left hanging and nothing is really complete by the end of the book.

I enjoyed the story but was very frustrated the way it ended. I haven't read others in the series so I don't know if it would have flowed better to have some of the action show up in a subsequent book.
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