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(Cobra #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,061 ratings  ·  78 reviews
The Cobras wonder if they can return home after the wars--since humans fear their talents.
Paperback, 346 pages
Published November 1st 1991 by Baen Books (first published 1985)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,061 ratings  ·  78 reviews

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Jesse Whitehead
Jun 27, 2012 rated it liked it

Cobra is a very different book from the one that I thought I was picking up. What I thought was a action packed book about super soldiers fighting aliens turned out to be an examination of humans, politics, and learning to adapt to a whole new kind of human being.

Who deserves power? Colloquial wisdom would tell us that only those who do not desire it truly deserve to have it. As it so often is, colloquial wisdom is an oversimplification of the facts. The truth is that there are a great number
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of military science fiction
Book Info: Genre: Military Science-fiction Reading Level: Adult

Disclosure: I received the 6th book in the series (or 3rd book in the 2nd trilogy) in exchange for an honest review; I have purchased these earlier books on my own, but am happy to provide an honest review anyway.

Synopsis: Earth’s only hope was the COBRAs.

The colony worlds Adirondack and Silvern fell to the Troft forces almost without a struggle. Outnumbered and on the defensive, Earth made a desperate decision. It would attack the
D.M. Dutcher
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
It reminds me of starship troopers but without all of the ideological baggage. Jonny volunteers to become part of the Cobras-cybernetic soldiers designed to blend in with civilians and fight guerilla warfare against the Trofts. The book covers his life from recruit to returned veteran to colonist to politician.

Zahn does very well at making humanistic science fiction without a lot of the preconceived ideas others shoehorn into their work. He doesn't use his books as a pulpit to preach, but
Peter Tillman
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy
A coming-of-age story for Jonny Moreau, a young colonial who becomes a member of the Cobras, an elite military unit designed to be fearsome guerilla warriors.

The tech behind converting a normal human to a Cobra doesn’t stand up to close inspection. And you’ll have to put up with various other 1980s Back-to-the-Future stuff that hasn’t aged well. But no matter — the story itself moves right along, and stands up well to rereading some 30 years on. This is still one of Zahn’s best books, I think.
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The life and times of Jonny, the augmented soldier. Military SF that recalls such books as Man Plus and Armor, both from the same era. This one has some cool action and battle sequences, but not nearly enough to fulfill the promise of the title. For the most part, the book focuses on the effect of being augmented on one person, Jonny, following him from his time as a soldier, through his later life as colonist and politician. The story is told in serial fashion as a chain of short stories ...more
Jun 01, 2013 rated it liked it
I picked this up not because it was military sci-fi, but because it deals with one of the sub-genres of science fiction that I am interested in. Human enhancement.

The human Dominion of Man's war against the Troft is not going well. To start an insurgency against the Troft on the occupied worlds the decision is take recruits and enhance them. Computers in their brains, weapons installed in their bodies, re-enforced bone, etc. Essentially a one-man army.

While the science is questionable Zahn does
Benjamin Espen
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the cover blurb for this book, I expected something like the Blackcollar series: military sci-fi about super soldiers, cyborgs in this case instead of pharmaceutically enhanced ninjas. That impression is completely wrong. While there are some battle scenes in this book, that isn’t really the focus. This isn’t really military sci-fi at all, but rather speculative fiction about politics using super soldiers as a thought experiment.

This is the second book I’ve read recently that looks
Joseph Nagy, Jr.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
A Wonderful Read

More human interest story than military sci-fi, Timothy Zahn takes you through the life of a young man at the beginning of a war and his struggle with ethics and honor. A wonderful read in which you'll be whisked away with Jonny (the main character in the story) and his struggles with the very real struggles of reintegrating into society,made more difficult by not only the emotional issues of having been at war for three years, but also permanently cybernetically altered, making
Jun 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Please vote on list Best Timothy Zahn Novels.

Another really good sci-fi read from Timothy Zahn. This book is a little different from his later books in that there isn't a mystery throughout the book that is revealed at the end with a twist.

The events in Cobra center around the life of main character Jonny Moreau. It covers around 30 years. We start with him before he becomes a Cobra then go through his training, his military career, and his political career.

The character are likeable and
Nov 28, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sff
Entertaining scifi fun! But, as the clock neared 3:00am and I was almost finished, I felt the horrible, sinking feeling that I had read this book before. I may have, I really can't remember. If not, then it really reminded me of both Jon Scalzi's Old Man series as well as Joe Haldeman's Forever series.

I guess enhanced humanoid soldiers being shipped off to colonies is a popular tale to tell.
Janet Sketchley
Good story, and interesting to see the longer-term picture of the challenges this new type of soldier faced after the war as well as in the beginning. Action, loyalties, political and military strategies, and adventure.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the first non-Star Wars book by Timothy Zahn that I have read. He is my favorite Star Wars fiction author. I am glad I picked this one up. It is unlike anything I have ever read. It is science fiction, yes, but it reads more like a sprawling military/frontier action drama. It follows the life of Johnny Moreau from his late teens, through his military training as a member of the title elite forces, his experiences during the war, and after the war. It is set in the distant future. Non of ...more
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
I was browsing the Baen Free Library, when I noticed the author's name. I remember his Star Wars books fondly from my youth, so I decided to download and read it. (Yes, I got the book for free. Yes, that might change my opinion of it, so maybe read some other reviews, too! You can get it for free, too, right here on the publisher's website:

After the first few dozen pages I feared it would be another Starship Troopers rip-off (looking at you, Old Man's War), but I
Jul 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good Book, when I read about it I expected a book focused on the warring and solely focused on the fighting, and I am glad I got it so wrong. This book not only deals with the war effort and how it impacts the special soldiers, it also deals with their readjustment to civilian lives and how those same civilians see them once the fighting is done, not only that it considers the political implications of the war, and how the military decisions affect the civilians live. A good rounded book that ...more
Andrew Spink
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, english
Plenty of action to keep the reader entertained and nice to have the invading aliens as rational beings who can be negotiated with. But the book is sadly typical of its genre in that only one character is developed to any extent, everybody else is just supporting cast, and the few female characters in the plot barely merit a mention. Having said that, always nice to see a book where botanical research is responsible for a key plot twist and the book definitely breaks free of its genre with its ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Couldn’t put it down

Such a great read. I couldn’t put it down. I love Timothy Zahn’s Star Wars books and thought I’d check this out. It has a different flavor but still has the great storytelling that is uniquely Zahn. Great development without any unnecessary words. I love how he left a lot to imagination. This could be a drawback from someone who likes more descriptive styles (like Tolkien). But this time around I just wanted to know what happens in the story. And he delivered.
Al Philipson
I had a hard time getting into this story, probably because I was writing something similar (without the super-human stuff).

Just as I finally got interested, the war ended and the hero returned to civilized life. Then things got interesting again.

I finally made peace with the swings in story line and was able to immerse myself into the story. My level of enjoyment went up. So I can recommend it as a good "read". Especially if you're not writing something similar yourself (grin).
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read. The format is kind of similar to Isaac Asimov's Foundation, in that it is kind of episodic. There are six stories, all starring Cobra Jonny Moreau, spanning a good chunk of his life. I really enjoyed it. I see that there are several other Cobra books by Zahn, and I'll definitely keep my eye's peeled for them to be on sale.
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read!

This complete book was hard to put down. It was unique enough to hold my attention, but familiar enough to be comfortable. I've read it twice, finding new things each time. I'll be reading it again when I want to meet with an old friend.
Christopher England
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A blast from the past. This was one of my earlier forays into science fiction, and it’s probably been close to a decade since my last reread. Still enjoyed it.

Didn’t remember the political situation being so weird though.
DNF 50%. After the war, it felt like the book started getting political. Couldn’t get into it. I wanted more action throughout.
Phyllis Griffiths
Hello Johnny. Now I want to read the rest of the Cobra books.
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great story telling! An exploration of the implementation of super soldiers that spans years and yet is always focused on individual characters that you care about.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Timothy Zahn set the bar awful high for me when I read Heir to the Empire and the rest of his Star Wars sequels in middle school. Even then, I could tell that basically every other book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe sucked, but Grand Admiral Thrawn was awesome, and nobody else could right Luke and Leia and Han the way Zahn could. Because the bar was so high, I never really got into Zahn's original work. I read the Conqueror's Trilogy (starting with Conquerors' Pride) and it was good--as ...more
Apr 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You think you're going to get a action packed, space war, you-die-or-i-die kind of narrative but its actually a lot more complex than that - a meditation on what it means to hold power, on politics, and the way that government is navigated, and a society in which one class of humans is feared by the rest. Our noble hero Jonny, grows from a boy wishing to contribute to the war effort, to a man who who serves his country - along the way, he's captured by the enemy, used by his government and sent ...more
Mar 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oliver Bogert
Jul 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Cobra covers the first 30 years of the series, the creation of the Cobra Special Forces, the Troft War, and the settling of the distant planet Aventine. It was a good setup novel for the rest of the series and I look forward to reading the rest of the series in the near future. As a stand alone novel, the story arc was bit flat with a limited climax at the end, but you can see where it is leading directly into the next book in the series. There are still may interesting Character and World ...more
Charles  van Buren
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An early book by Zahn,October 18, 2016

Verified Purchase(What's this?)

This review is from:Cobra (Kindle Edition)

Cobra is one of Zahn's early books. At this time it is free on Amazon but I would not recommend reading it as your first Zahn book. In the intervening years since Cobra was first published, his work has improved. It isn't bad but maybe just a bit better than average Sci-fi. I would give it 3 1/2 stars but cannot so it will have to be 4.

This novel owes a debt to Heinlein's Starship
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: completed, 2015
An experimental technology is brought into military usage on the frontier worlds, to repel the invasion of the insect-like Troft. Humans are implanted with lasers, their bones and muscles enhanced, and their brains implanted with a special computers with pre-programmed "battle reflexes" that allow them to make high-speed reactions against various situations.

This allows them to act as covert operatives that are capable of wiping out masses of soldiers, even without adequate intel on enemy forces,
Oct 12, 2013 rated it liked it
You can tell that is it one of Zahn's earlier works - there are a lot of gaps in the narrative and it is hardly one of Zahn's best. There is nothing wrong with the writing parse, (I've read a lot worse....) but a clear story is lacking in it and I picked it up to read because Zahn is one of my favourite authors. His later work, particularly The Thwarn Trilogy, (if you like Star Wars), The Conqueror's Trilogy, The Green and the Grey, The Quadrail series and the Icarus Hunt are far more ...more
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he ...more

Other books in the series

Cobra (3 books)
  • Cobra Strike (Cobra, #2)
  • Cobra Bargain (Cobra, #3)