Special Forces is the story of a Scottish SAS soldier and a Soviet spetsnaz soldier. Two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union's last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow ... but that's only the official version. This epic spans across over twenty-five years of their lives. It's harsh and violent, but life is cruel and they just do what they need to survive.
Special Forces - Veterans is the third and last cycle of the Special Forces epic, which consists of three cycles and about a million words. The first cycle is Soldiers and the second one is Mercenaries (in two parts).
This print version is the original version of Special Forces, as it was edited at the time of first publication on Marquesate’s website. The Veterans cycle was published between November 2008 and April 2009. This is the only version that is authorised by Marquesate.
This print version of Special Forces is strictly non-profit and print cost only. The paperback of this original version is available from Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback...
The ebook version is available for free download, and the original chapters remain as a free read on Marquesate’s website: http://www.marquesate.org/special-for...
BETRAYED!!! That’s how I feel. The story in ‘Mercenaries’ and ‘Veterans’ feels like a betrayal. SF- Soldiers was incredible, not just a slice of real life. It was, first and foremost, a grand and magnificent love story. It described a love so extraordinary, so beautiful in its brutality and intensity, I was crying for days afterwards. However, reading the Mercenaries cycle was like a punch to the stomach. What you get is a promiscuous Mad Dog with hardly any morals or sense of caring towards Vadim. Dan completely shattered me. The way Dan can supposedly separate love from sex (by which one means lots and lots of sex with anyone and everyone available) is plain creepy. What made their love so special in the first book, Soldiers, was their complete focus on and devotion to each other. But, in the Mercenaries cycle, and later Veterans, Dan is spending almost all his time and energy fucking everything in sight, especially Jean, which obviously leaves him hardly any time or energy to devote to Vadim. He keeps saying that everything is about Vadim. But, actions speak louder than words. When confronted with situations where he has a choice between Vadim and Jean (or anyone else, for that matter), he always chooses Jean (or whoever else the other one is). Not once does he make Vadim or Vadim’s pleasure his priority. To think that Katya was right about Dan all along – that he was a worthless piece of s***. He didn’t even have the decency to admit to his love for Jean and set Vadim free (especially since Vadim could never gain the courage to demand monogamy from Dan although that was what Vadim really wanted). Look at all the damning evidence. During the run-up to his wedding, Dan has eyes only for Jean. He is passionately kissing and making out with Jean and not giving a damn about Vadim or where he is. He is fucking Jean like crazy but on his wedding night, he cannot even get it up for Vadim. What a way to treat his supposed true love. I mean, the magnitude of selfishness and cruelty towards Vadim that he displays is astounding. UNFORGIV ABLE!!! He is so far gone, I can’t see a redemption for him. Please, please, please, I beg of you, please give us an alternative version of events from the time Vadim returns to Dan after two and a half years. Please either let Dan and Vadim rediscover that brutal and beautiful love they shared in Afghanistan. Let them feel anew that searing intensity that was totally reserved for each other. Or, if you can’t find it in your heart to change Dan, at least let Vadim get over him. Don’t let him be a fucking doormat simply waiting for Dan to dole out crumbs when he can manage to tear himself away from Jean. Please take Dan out of the picture - his story is finished since he has found his soulmate in Jean, its Vadim who has been left standing all alone in the end, his entire life laid waste. Because, maybe, their relationship ran its course the day Vadim ran out on Dan after being released from captivity. Because Vadim deserves so much more. He deserves someone who’ll love him unconditionally, with his whole body and soul (most definitely without eyeing others). It obviously can’t be Hooch since he has found true love with Matt. Let someone new come into his life who will give Vadim what he needs. Please give something for all of us romantics out there.
this book—and the overall three-volume epic it concludes—isn't finished. it's semi-currently undergoing a righteous edit, and the difference between the edited text and the original is notable.
further, the fucking thing is massive. it is a work of staggering ambition—hubris, even—or maybe just balls the size of my head. a story that spans 25 years? a million words? yeah.
too much, in other words. too much to review with my typical mix of douchebag flippancy and stentorian gravitas. just too bloody much there.
and god forbid i try to summarize, as so many here on goodreads inexplicably feel compelled to do.
at length, naturally.
so what, then, does the mad dominican have left to say of such a book as this? what's left?
it's not finished, it's not perfect, and it's not always very good. but when it is—and it is, for hundreds upon hundreds of pages at a time—it is nothing less than a work of comprehensive genius. it is simultaneously one of the more libidinously violent stories you can read... and one of the most romantic.
in fact, it wouldn't be anywhere near as gloriously sentimental without the heinously-devised tribulations visited upon the main characters.
this is some story, boy.
a casual glance at my gibbering status updates—quite literally a cry for help, on one occasion—confirms what i say: this story will thrill you, chill you, fuck your skull with razor cocks, leave you for dead in an alley in kabul, and then scoop up your bloody remains and make a sausage out of you.
and then it will make you cry like a ninny.
read this. at your peril—but read it. when it's done, when the authors are finished editing it and then release it, pay for it. maybe twice. it's completely blown my head up, and what more could you ask for, really?
Dear Lawd, how I wish to have a way with words to describe how much this series gave me, as a reader, and as a person.
It has been an incommensurable experience.
It gave so much freedom to my mind to wander and linger and question and accept and be awed. It gave me a degree in tolerance, a master in forgiveness, a PhD in acceptance.
Special Forces is a lifetime journey of blood and darkness and hatred and compassion and passion and despair but above all love in one of the harshest and cruel backgrounds created. And that life shaped these two men who went through hell and back. But it all paid off as they ended this journey as equals, living freely and truly to themselves, with no pretences.
What an undeniable representation of epic love.
There were a few let-downs down the road but what represents a few niggles in a 1.2 fucking million words story? Nothing, absolutely nothing because the whole greatness of its core overshadows that by thousands of miles.
And I'm so in love with Vadim's troubled soul
"Take my strength. Tie me up. Chain me. Force me with your will."
and Dan's irreverence.
"Oversexed. Underfucked. Kinky. Those three words spelt hell."
I don't think I have ever felt so connected to fiction characters before and as such, it pains me immensely to see them go.
I never could picture Jean. I try hard not to label people, but I wanted to stick a label on him so bad. Who was him? His identity? Straight? French? Bi? Russian? Gay? And considering how much I could see all the other characters presented to us, I can't help but wonder if his lack of personality was on purpose.
This series is hands down the most perfect fucked up life journey I have ever read, and I will be forever a captive in Dan and Vadim's fiction world.
"You think together we make something like a whole?"
Yes, Yes I do.😭😭😭
And on that note, I am rating these four books with all my heart, a constellation of stars.
Living the last 25 years vicariously through a million words, taking me through the passage of time, places and seasons has been an experience I shall never forget. Dan and Vadim, my warriors. You were my pain and my joy and I shall love you forever. This story, the pleasure and the pain will forever be with me. All of it, every moment, every comrade, lover, friend or foe. This was just the most emotionally charged, exhilarating, frustrating and heartbreaking adventure. If I ever read anything like this again, I will consider myself the luckiest woman in the world!
From the breathtaking mountains of Afghanistan, the dust of the Dessert in Iraq, to the horror of the Balkans. I have been a slave to this epic story. An almost life changing experience for me. I cannot decide if it was an addiction or an all-consuming absorption or both?
Veterans is a fitting ending, in so much that everything has evolved, and to a point, resolved. There is no longer a physical war to be fought, but there is a war of the minds and internal emotions that has the potential to destroy everything. For me this was the hardest battle of them all. Dan needs to escape his depression and self loathing and Vadim finally faces his own emotional trauma in a head on brutal fight for his sanity. Both these fights left me raw and desperate for hope again.
“You made me human. I stand by that. You made me into somebody I would have wanted to become, if I'd ever thought about what I wanted to be that wasn't about a record or power or a rank or some...delusion I was chasing. If all that was gone and stripped away, the man I am, I am because of what you did, what you made me feel all those years.”
It's not an easy journey for Dan or Vadim. It was never meant to be, it was always going to be a hard won victory to find peace, understanding and acceptance. Love was always there, the binding kind that seemed to conquer it all. That was never the question, was it? But would it ever be enough?
Because it had all been a motherfucking nightmare and the solution was so simple, right there and under their noses. It had just been hidden: Love. Fair and square. Just love.
! This book would have been the perfect closure for me, if it hadn't been for certain events in the end. You see, I think I have come to understand what has happened here. Why I feel the way I do. The authors have changed the rules. It's quite simple. The rules of contemporary romance do not apply here. Certainly not when it comes to sexual faithfulness and exclusivity, and some other things too. Christ, there are no rules! My preconceived safe and sane romantic ideals have been beaten into submission with words and actions that defy my very moral and monogamous view of the world. The rules have been deleted and inscribed with a great big 'screw you, put this in your pipe and smoke it, this is what happens in a gay man's world' Now maybe I'm wrong, I don't know many gay men, but that was the message I got.
I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who held my virtual hand while I read these. Thank you for putting up with my tantrums and foul language, my gifs and my tears! I couldn't have got through it without you. You know who you are, I won't name names cause I scared I'll forget someone. But love to all.
I might not have loved all these books equally, but the series? 5 STARS!!
Thank you to Mr Voinov and Marquesate for giving these books to us for free. I haven't spent a cent of my book budget this month and have decided to donate it to the Red Cross:)
Done. I feel like I ran a grueling marathon...and came in first place! That exhausted. That elated.
I will miss you Vadim and Dan. You’ve changed my life…seriously.
Sorry to friends and family and DVR who have gone neglected. Sorry to Goodreads community for being such a basket case. Sorry to books and ARC’s and Buddy Reads I passed over. Sorry to the exclamation point for overusing you in every update, comment, and review.
Veterans was the perfect ending to an amazing series. It felt like a salve, a balm, to roughened, raw, and damaged skin. It soothed all the parts that Soldiers and Mercenaries left damaged and scarred. And, again, in the end there was love. Love hard-earned - surviving Dan’s downward spiral, Vadim’s PTSD & therapy, a stalker, a pain-in-the-ass (I’m referring to Jean...ha!), additional sexcapades, children, old wounds, new wounds...
After 25 years, rape, torture, killing, war, injury, deception, lovers, manages, fights, and fisting…we finally get their Happily Ever After…till death do them part…
Thank you, Marquesate & Aleksandr "The Genius" Voinov for this masterpiece. I only wish that I had been one of the first to have read it so it wouldn't feel so "ordinary" and "expected" when I say how AMAZING Special Forces is and what a DEEP IMPACT it had on me.
What’s left to say after the first 3 reviews, really?
More of the same maybe?
I just finished the book, and I have to admit I’m a bit disappointed with the ending.. I would have liked.. Well, just a bit more than what we got..
Considering how the series begun and how many emotions, both good and bad, that we got through the whole series, I think its weird how little emotion we got in the end, which should have been a really big thing.. A really big moment for them..
And if you’ve read my reviews of the first 3 books, you’ll know how much I’ve cried over Dan and Vadim.. Nothing less than bawling my eyes out.. I’ve grown so close to these two guys, so the fact I didn’t even get teary eyed at their wedding, is quite a statement to how much I really didn’t feel it.. Or feel them, I should say.. I would have liked.. I don’t know, just something more, I guess..
And if you’ve read my reviews of the first 3 books, you would also know how much I didn’t like, how much I despised and hands down hated, how they slept with their “buddies”.. Well, I could handle Vadim and Hooch for some reason, but Dan and Jean? Jesus Christ.. I hate Jean..
He’s supposed to be one of the good guys, but I hate him more than I’ve ever hated a villain in any book.. Just. 100%. Pure. Hate. Cheating bastard!
The fact that Dan, after getting proposed to, by the guy he’s supposed to love more than anything, goes straight to the phone to have phone sex with Jean, pisses me off to such a degree, I can’t even begin to write it.. It makes me growl, grind my teeth and yeah, well, if you could see my face as I’m writing (and thinking) about that scene now, you would know how much I hated it.. That’s just fucking pathetic and so disrespectful I can’t even stand it..
After book 3 I was worried that I wouldn’t get the ending I wanted.. I wanted some kind of “I love you, always you and only you”- hint, no more buddies - which I definitely didn’t get, considering they were screwing everyone during their wedding days..
Anyway.. The last 3 books in the series, I’m glad I read, could have done without them though I think.. They made me more angry and full of aggression than anything else.. They definitely re-kindled my hatred for ‘sharing’ in stories, which I had overcome at one point.. Not so much anymore though.. Thanks for that guys!
I did give 2 & 3, 5 stars because they got to me, even if it was with negative feelings more than positive, but this one I can’t give 5 stars, which is a shame, but hey, that’s life..
The first book in the series though.. That one I’ll take with me everywhere I go.. I’ll cherish it and cuddle it, and keep it in my heart forever and always.. And in my Dan and Vadim world, there will always be them, and only them..
2 men, 2 soldiers. 2 lovers.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Veterans is the fourth book in the epic Special Forces series and it’s the final part of Dan and Vadim’s story. Unfortunately: it wasn’t the ending this series deserved. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a bad book. And it breaks my heart to give it 3,5 stars, but Veterans just did not come up to the standards of the previous three books. It didn’t show the same level of enthusiasm, attention to detail, depth or nuance as the rest of the series.
My major problem was that Veterans felt like an epilogue. A mellow epilogue. There was a lot of telling in stead of showing which decreased the intensity of the story and it seemed like a lot of loose ends needed to be tied in any way possible. To me, the rawness and honesty of the Special Forces series got lost. In this series full of extremes, the authors always still managed to maintain some nuance and a vast amount of gray. Actions and characters were layered and often (morally) ambiguous. This time some things were overdrawn, black and white, out of left field or downright over the top. The story just felt a little rushed and unfinished at times.
I also had trouble recognizing the characters in the beginning. Partly because of slight changes in writing style and partly because of some out of character actions. I understand that times have changed and the men’s change in age and lifestyle validates changes in thoughts and behavior, but the shift -to me- was very sudden.
So, it took me a while to get used to the new feel of the book, but once I did, I really did enjoy the story. Dan and Vadim are such phenomenal characters and it was great to be part of their journey in life, in a stage where they’re getting ‘old and decrepit’, as Dan put it. We revisited a lot of old characters and met some new ones, which all served its purpose in the development of the characters of the men and their relationship. And eventhough I have the unreasonable wish for Dan and Vadim to stay young forever (as in their Soldiers time), there’s no denying growing older becomes them.
It was truly exhilarating to be able to follow 25 years in the lives of Dan McFadyen and Vadim Krasnorada, and it is with an ache in my heart that I say goodbye to them.
Prayer beads, energy bars, boots, scars, blades, and a bullet.
I hope I’ll be able to find coherent words for a review. Looking back at 25 years in the life of these two completely different men who found love in a world of blood and gore completely swept me off my feet. Consider this a spoiler-laden (!) review of the whole series, not just the last book.
Personally, I would have preferred to see Dan and Vadim deal with their families and children in more detail and following them on that path, but instead, the story mostly centered on sex whenever and with whomever the plot made it possible.
Still, I am so in love with the story and the many years that it encompasses. Although I hated Dan’s promiscuity, his lovers actually grew on me over time, especially Matt and Hooch (whose book I’m gonna read asap). I never grew fond of Jean, though. I disliked him and how he treated and cheated on his wife Solange . I also totally disliked Dan’s closeness with him, telling him things that went on between him and Vadim that should have *stayed* between him and Vadim. He had no right spilling everything to Jean.
So, Jean, this is for you:
And finally, I need to confess that Vadim Krasnorada is definitely my favorite character. I mean, of all time. I don’t think I ever got to know a book character as thoroughly as him. His past, his thoughts, his motivations. He stands out like a gold coin in a treasure chest filled with silver.
Yes, he has dark sides. He’s a – but still I love him with all my heart. Is this Stockholm-Syndrome speaking or what, LOL? I spent more than a full year reading this series, giving rather low ratings to the Mercenaries books (or to be more precise: to Dan) and I will never be able to fully understand characters having an open relationship like Dan and Vadim have (I am convinced that this will wreck an intimate relationship sooner or later), but still this series is the most intense epic you will find in this genre.
It gave me depression at times, made me question my own attitudes at others. I can only recommend this series with all my heart.
And now I just *have* to read every single book by this author. I hope they’re not all multi-thousand pages novels like this masterpiece here. 5 stars and a Federal Cross of Merit for Vadim, but need I even mention that? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
4.5 stars for the book but 5 stars for the series.
I just finished Veterans and what a sad day it is. I can't believe my journey with Vadim and Dan is over. Twenty-five years of passion, anger, violence, loneliness, torture and above all LOVE. I miss them already!
Veterans is the final book in Special Forces and although I did love it, I had a few problems with this book. My expectations were higher mainly because it was the last installment and I wanted everything tied up but it didn't quite reach that point for me.
In the beginning, Veterans gripped me and drew me in. Vadim and Dan had gone through so much over the years but to see them so emotionally disconnected was heart-breaking. They always had something between them even if it was anger but for them to be so estranged and practically accept being this far apart was horrible. Although, Vadim's outdoor excursion was perfect (took him long enough to get off his ass)!
The biggest problem was the ending. I was so happy they got married but I needed more and Vadim and Dan deserved more as well. The wedding was simply beautiful but not being able to see them make love for the first time after getting married really struck me in a bad way especially since this book severely lacked private Vadim and Dan time. Why not show more of Vadim and Dan and leave out some of the non essential people, such as Beauvais?
This leads me to my second complaint. Much of the book was focused on Dan and Jean's relationship. Dan and Jean have always irritated me but when I don't get more of Vadim and Dan and combine that with the ending, it puts me off in a very bad way. To see Dan fucking Jean and then to have Jean tell Dan he loved him was too much to take. Thank God Dan never said it back or elaborated on his feelings because that would have been the end for me.
There were many missed opportunities to see just Dan and Vadim together. Not only on their wedding night but also when Dan had to leave Vadim so he can begin his therapy and he asked Vadim to make love to him but we get nothing. This wasn't acceptable especially for the last book. Sorry, but I felt a bit cheated.
There were however, many beautiful moments: the tent scene, Dan wondering if Vadim will love him after his 3 month therapy, Dan meeting Kisa, Vadim resolving things with Nikolai, Dan telling Maggie he loves her, Vadim's reaction to Duncan calling him brother-in-law, and of course their wedding with the steel rings and Vadim's blue cufflinks.
Best LOL moment hands down goes to Hooch when he asked Jean at their first meeting "Did you cry?" Love Hooch and Matt but I thought it was so out of character for Hooch to make up with Jean.
And I couldn't believe Vadim's run in with Konstantinov. Wow, I really felt for him and never saw that one coming.
I thought the proposal was absolutely perfect. I loved how Dan was genuinely shocked and would only say yes if Vadim was marrying him for love and no other reason. I loved the part when Dan was staring at Vadim, thinking of the past..."Vadim still was the man he'd always wanted. Everyone else, no matter who or where and what, paled in comparison to Vadim. His Russkie. His cunt. Dan smiled at last."
This was quite an intense journey. I cried, laughed out loud, got pissed (more times than I wanted) but as always I loved every moment with Vadim and Dan. Whenever I hear the words, lapis lazuli, the Afghan mountains, energy bars, and Russkie I will always think of Vadim and Dan and smile.
Thank you for one of the best series I've ever read!
I don't know. I really wanted to like this book. I basically finished the series as I had read the first two and wanted to know how the story would end. I still hate Jean and he was in this book a lot. He just rubs me the wrong way, which is great, if Dan hadn't kept sleeping with him. If Dan had stopped sleeping with him, I actually think I would have liked Jean more.
I'm peeved that Dan and Vadim weren't monogamous. I know this might be just me and yes perhaps I am all about the happy ever afterI thought the book started off really well. I was rivetted by the start and I did have a moment where I thought, this is going to be great, but once it got to the point where Dan and Vadim went to visit Jean after Pascal's death, I thought well the greatness in this story is gone. Then it felt to me like it descended into one big how many times can we fit sex in.
It angered me that even when Vadim said he didn't like them having sex with others, it carried on as apparently agreeable to both of them. Grr. Yes I know strong feelings.
I'm still a little shocked as I really loved Soldiers and now part of me wishes that I had stopped reading after the first book and just imagined my own ending. I think that would have made me happier.
Oh well, in my imagination I can pretend it never happened. I will definitely re read Soldiers again in the future, but won't be going back for another serving of Mercenaries or Veterans.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
That's it! The journey of twenty five years is over. No, that's not true, for Vadim and Dan the journey of their life together isn't over yet, but we are leaving them in the confidence that they'll manage their best years without us watching over them!
I totally agree with Suec (she buddy-read Mercs II with me - thx sweets:). Every emotional heart string has been pulled. Love, fear, pain, longing, devastation, euphoria, despair, anger, desperation and again and foremost, love.
Veterans is a worthy finalization of a life story that begins 1980 in the mountains of Afghanistan. Vadim and Dan have come a very long way from the two soldiers they have been when they first met.
They were both so fucked up in their own ways. How they cope and help each other in the end is so heart warming..
The first half of Veterans deals with what happened in Mercs II, and the rest of the book is concerned with wrapping up the plot lines of not only our main characters but also of just about everyone we’ve ever met along the way.
It's wonderful to see Dan and Kisa finally meet. They are honest with each other from the very beginning. And Vadim makes his peace with Nikolai and they become really close. I'm looking forward to read his story in Gold Digger and hope with all my heart to meet Vadim again. :)
Jean... I feel so sorry for him. All the years he's in love with Dan and despite the sex and the deep affection and friendship, he'll never get the chance to win Dan's heart over Vadim. Dan may need the open relationship, but emotionally he's monogamous. He loves Vadim, and no one else.
Hooch... how I love this guy. Our outward tough Delta Force soldier with the wounded soul and his loving and understanding partner Matt.
Maggie, the Baroness... a true friend to Dan and Vadim for nearly twenty years. It is so heart melting when Dan finally breaks down, hugs her and tells her he loves her.
Never in my life a story has left such a mark in my soul. The characters will live in my heart forever. It was epic, just epic...I can't recommend the series strongly enough.
Aleks (and Marquesate), thank you for one of the best series I've ever read!
but I'm crying because I have already missed them, the most unforgeable characters ever, two men to die for, my Dan and Vadim...
My first spontaneous desire after I've turned the last page was to go back to Soldiers and start the whole epic from the very beginning. I have never had this urgent uncontrolled desire before and I read a lot. I am still not ready to say goodbye to Dan and Vadim. Will I see you again?...
Thank you for the 25 years of the heartbreaking, emotional journey...I will always love you...
"A hard beginning maketh a good ending." - by John Heywood -
"...I promise to respect, support and care for you, to honor and encourage you." "...I will respect you as an individual and be true to you through all the changing scenes of life - in good times and in bad. I undertake to fulfill this promise until life's end." "I give you this ring as a token of my love and a lasting reminder of the promises made between us today. I promise to care for you above all others and cherish you throughout the rest of our lives together."
After the re-read & buddy read I'll be editing my review.
Well, Veterans was better than Mercenaries, but still no where near as good as Soldiers. There were parts that I chose to skim due to either aggravation or boredom, but there were some really touching, important moments as well. Here are my thoughts:
It is very difficult to put in words everything that these books gave to me! There were so many different emotions, some good, some not so good, and others devastating! Pain, sorrow, joy, happyness... love... and every one of these emotions are nailed in my heart and my soul, and forever they will be!
I was, once again, drowned in a sea of feelings while reading Veterans! There were no more wars to fight, but there were fightings with traumas and depression! Dan and Vadim's love overcome everything... their beautiful, strong and powerful love!
I will never forget Dan and Vadim, one of my favorite couples of all times! They deserved HEA and they got it! The ending was so sweet... so tender... and there again were my tears... but tears of happyness!
Aleksandr Voinov and Marquesate are brilliant, they wrote an epic story, memorable!!!
A special thanks to my GR friend Shakisha, who gave me the motivation to read this series!!!
The thought of letting go and saying goodbye to Vadim and Dan is just too painful to face. I thought the longer I put off this review the more time I had with this story, characters, and emotion running through my blood. Stalling is a skill. ;) But then it hit me. *slaps hand to forehead* Vadim and Dan are not going anywhere! They will forever hold a place in my heart and mind. This epic tale consumed me, made me laugh, cry, crave, scream, think, feel, and love.
This story left a mark. One I will carry with me for strength, courage, love, and inspiration.
Veterans, the final book in the Special Forces series, depicts life after the soldiering is done. Vadim and Dan are forced to find a new career, new life, and meaning without war and soldiering. But how? Soldiers live, define, and take purpose, pride, and meaning from their duty and job. Once the job and persona are gone though, what then? This can be true of any job or role in life. We all must face the time when how we define ourselves changes or shatters. Vadim and Dan must learn to live in peace time away from the killing and war. Can they find and fight for a new way of living without losing themselves or their love though?
This leg of the journey opens with the most powerful, painful (tore my heart out with a spoon type pain) and realistic passages found in this series. Have you ever lost someone who was sitting right in front of you? My heart aches and chest tightens just thinking back on this time between Vadim and Dan. Hurt feelings, assumptions, and miscommunication can lead to pain atop of pain. Time and pain build to form this impenetrable wall that feels so big and cold. Everything feels lost and out of your control. Even the love feels lost. The beginning of this book broke my heart because it felt so terrifyingly real. We can lose the ones we love even though they are right there. If you know what I mean, my heart goes out to you. It hurts like fuck!
”Alive. The word had taken on a whole new meaning over the past year. He’d been existing, side by side with Vadim, but more separated and hopeless than he’d ever been before. Alive but not living.”
But as only Vadim and Dan can—they seem to find a way through all the pain and hurt. I jumped up and down (no lie) when Vadim found a way to break through the wall.
Which brings me to one of my biggest loves and impacts from Vadim and Dan’s story—strength. The strength they found in battle, each other, life, friends, family, and love continues to awe and inspire me weeks after reading the last words. Vadim’s strength specifically will remain with me forever. His power and strength to stand up and fight for who he is and will be as an individual was courageous, beautiful, and heartbreaking. I have lost count how many times Vadim has shattered my heart and stolen every last one of my tears—but his battle to live and fight back against the torture simply took my breathe away! Right then and there Vadim earned all of my respect. I adore the man.
Which is why…..DO NOT READ THIS if you plan on reading this series some day. This is a true spoiler.
These characters made me feel included and a part of their lives, family, friends, and battles. And that is the key to this story for me—to be a part of life. They found a way to be a part of something, feel something, and be truly alive. These men found love and life with each other, but also surrounded themselves with people that became a part of their healing and happiness. One of my favorite parts of this story is the message and idea of giving back in life. Special Forces encourages giving back to a charity, nation, community, veteran, family, friend, or stranger. The thought and image of Vadim teaching little ones self defense makes me smile! It is just one of the heart warming moments of this series that shows huge heart. One I will take to heart.
So this is it…Goodbye. Thank you Vadim and Dan! I feel like I have spent a life time with you, but hell…I want more!
Thank you for the words, emotion, and inspiration.
Christina! I really can’t thank you enough. You kept me sane through this journey. Thanks for always listening. Here’s to many more reading adventures, my friend! :D
The view from Calton Hill of the Balmoral Hotel and Princes St, Edinburgh.
Wow, what a book, loved it! I shall have to start again with 'Soldiers' shortly or I shall feel bereft...
"Holy Fuck." Dan exhaled, "it really is real, then, aye? What the hell happened to us along the way? We used to be so cool and reckless." "We grew up, got modestly well-off, and somehow stood each other for twenty-five years."
I went through the last lines of Veterans a few minutes ago and I feel I've reached the end of the toughest journey in my life. I can't believe I'm done...
This last installment was a lot different. More mellow, more emotional, the characters more introspective. The pace was much faster and there was much less dialogue. But it didn't matter. It was alright. Like the last leg of any journey, it slowed down. After all, you need to move to shallower waters before reaching the shore.
Some small things that stayed with me:
The first part, with Dan and Vadim having become almost strangers. It was almost as excruciating as the first part of Mercenaries. Almost.
Dan wondering if there was any love left in Vadim for him. I loved him again after that. I came this close to forgiving him for his Mad Dog period. It didn't happen though. Sorry Dan.
Anoushka. She was an interesting character and I would have liked a chance to understand her better.
Americans and British English. Having Hooch consider taking a kip instead of a nap, for example, felt strange. Could you imagine him commenting on the weather, having his toast well done and his tea with lots of milk? No way!
The prenuptial fuckfest. Again, I don't believe I'm saying this but there was just too much sex there. Though I have to admit I enjoyed the Hooch-Matt part of that foursome. I developped a thing for Hooch for a while after that. But then he went on to make up with Jean and I went "meh" about him all over again.
Beauvais. I didn't like the guy in Mercs and I didn't like him in Veterans either. But something about him in this installment made me feel like pating him on the shoulder and "there there-ing" him. Well. You know what they say. God works in mysterious ways and all that.
I would have liked to see how Dan and Vadim went on with their lives after their partership. See how it worked for them. And small things like if they let Vadim be on Dan's side after Dan's second knee replacement operation. Or how were Dan and Vadim with their grandchildren. But then again maybe things like that would have been overkill.
Special Forces has been hands down the most intense experience to come out of any book I've ever read and I cherish it for that. I bid farewell to Dan and Vadim with bleary eyes knowing that they will stay with me forever.
This is not my review of Veterans. My review of Veterans was written in my usual snarky fashion, full of similes and metaphors, conveying the very similar sentiments that I expressed in my Mercenaries reviews. I threw out my review of Veterans. You get that I feel the SF sequels are a passable three stars. Entertaining and recommendable, but not exceptional. This is what I produce after days of stimulating, healthy discussions that burn the midnight oil and make me question, “What is it about the sequels that kept me engaged while I read them, but made me feel, ‘eh,’ upon finishing them?” This is what happens when you make me think. This I blame solely on my good friends at Goodreads. So here it goes.
Believability. It all comes down to the believability in the writing for me. How does an author “make me believe”? I can’t quite pinpoint it, and my mind is too boggled right now to harp on it, but in essence it is in the sales pitch.
Since I love my metaphors so much, let’s go with a car one to assist in this explanation. Soldiers was like a BMW - a hideously orange one. I wanted a beautiful black BMW, never would have looked at an orange one, but Voinov and Marquesate insisted that I not take my eyes off the glowing sparkle of the orange. And I didn’t. I was mesmerized by it and drove it off the lot - fast.
So my lease runs out on “Soldiers” and I return to the lot. Voinov and Marquesate are waiting for me (looking dapper in John Varvatos suits - that’s how I picture them, thought you’d want to know) and they lead me over to a shiny, black car, named Mercenaries. Ah, what I wanted. There is a silver one too, they call it Veterans. BMW’s in colors I like. I can immediately tell they are lacking some sleekness, but essential lines are all their so I start to inspect them. It looks good for a while and then I recognize the logo on the trunk. KIA. Not BMW, KIA. I start looking to Voinov and Marquesate for answers, but Voinov is just staring across the lot at some unknown point and Marquesate is mumbling something I can’t understand while avoiding eye contact. Black and silver aren't BMW's and Voinov and Marquesate are still trying sell me them, but I am only going for an enjoyable test drive. I decide to keep the orange BMW and make an exit. I linger by black and silver a while just to be sure, but I’m sticking with orange.
When Voinov and Marquesate work as a team of sales pitching smoothness - I buy. When they each come at me from different directions - I don’t. Voinov and Marquesate made me engaged in a story about a homophobic alpha male who falls in love with his rapist - and I bought and I loved it. Equally incomprehensible plots continue in Mercenaries and Veterans, but Voinov and Marquesate just can’t seem to close the deal with me in regards to the believability factor in them.
Concluding that the plot in Soldiers is as hard a sell as the continued plot in it’s sequels, why did I “buy” Soldiers, but not the rest? I have suspicions. However, I am not quite bold enough to come right out and state these “suspicions,” but I am the right amount of bold to tip toe around them for a while ….
By the time I heard the call to hop on the Special Forces: Soldiers band wagon, there was a post from Voinov on the Director’s cut page stating:
“This is the vision that represents my version of the text.”
Not our. My. That was my first, “Hmmm.”
He follows it up with:
“In terms of changes, the text ends a little earlier than the original "Soldiers", so it can stand on its own.”
I thought, “What author would do that when the element of a cliff hanger would ensure more traffic to the sequels?”
I think I might get it now.
My suspicions harbor on the feeling that as I read through the series, I not only was reading the disintegration of the relationship between Dan and Vadim, but also their creators.
Now I do not personally know either of the authors. I only know them through their work and what I can discern through their interaction on Goodreads, which I am sure is a professional, public façade version of them. But what I infer from their separate websites, near complete lack of mention of each other and the quality of Soldiers verse the quality of the sequels - I am getting that their working arrangement may have become unpleasant.
When reading SF, the ICoS series was comparatively in my mind. The two series are as similar as they are contrasting. Their similarities lie in their ungodly length, total engagement of the reader, unforgettable characters and simply, epicness (epicness? That might not be a word, but I want it to be). It is where they contrast that I believe is key. Sonny Hassell and Ais’s cohesiveness as a team translated to their work. They hit their own bumpy roads with Afterimage and for a while I held my breath while Boyd went on a “Dan detour,” in his selfish escapades and temporary break from who his character had been. By keeping Boyd relatable, even when he wasn’t likeable, Hassell and Ais’s team effort kept me wanting more. Boyd recovered, Dan never did for me. Hassell and Ais share a group message board, Voinov and Marquesate don't.
Whether I am out in left field on this, I will never know. For all I know Voinov and Marquesate are best friends forever. But I do know they couldn’t keep their chemistry going in the work they produced.
For me the moment the sales pitch could no longer be believed, the five star rating was gone. Mercenaries and Veterans were entertaining, but not exceptional. It was not a five star love, but a three star working arrangement.
Special Forces in 3 parts, Soldiers, Mercenaries and Veterans.
I am not sure that I can do this book justice. It grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let you go until the end; and then stays with you.
Above all else, this is a love story; a very passionate love story. We are made to feel, no, obliged to feel, all the joy and ecstasy of love, all the pain and agony of love. It is a love that tears you apart, heals you, wounds you and makes you whole. If you have never had this love, the next best experience is to read about it and try to live it through the two main characters.
Two men, soldiers, rather warriors, share 25 years of their life with us. It is not a pretty story; made even less pretty by the inescapable ugliness of war and the unfortunate, and often inevitable, dehumanisation of fighters.
The psychological ramifications of being homosexual in an unaccepting and unforgiving world and the horrific effect of torture and pain are dealt with superbly; as are the healing processes and the accompanying catharsis.
In all of this, the soul is never lost entirely and the strength, and sometimes burden, of a deep love endures.
I can not recommend this book strongly enough. Yes, it is often harsh, bloody and savage. The abundant sex scenes are often rough rather than tender. If you are looking for a sterile and sweet story, this book is not for you. But if you are looking for a provoking, emotional and gripping read, this is one of the best.
Right away the authors took my soul, slammed it down, hard. Ripped me apart, tore me, exposed me and continued to destroy me. Then little by little they began piecing me back together again but not without letting me slam back to pain, weakness and deep depression over and over again. All without losing me anywhere along the way. In the end, they were kind enough to reassemble all the parts and re-fill my soul with hope and happiness but not without leaving a deeply affected core that is very sensitive to entirely new concepts and experiences that I never thought I wanted or needed to have.
A beautifully written love story, so much more than a romance. It has been said by so many reviewers but these books have changed me. That is something very rare. Exceptional story telling, character development and continuity. I can not emphasize enough how much I recommend this book (these books) and hope the interest continues to grow.
Special Forces is still my absolute favourite m/m series of all time, there's just no getting away from it. After a 4 year break I've read the entire series again with my initial 'buddies' Steph and G, and actually think I enjoyed it even more this time around. Last time I was so worried that Dan and Vadim wouldn't make it to the end that it sort of ruined my enjoyment of Veterans. I could relax a bit more this time and really take the time to enjoy everything and take it all in.
The last 25% especially was so much fun and so enjoyable, as Dan and Vadim got to meet up with long lost acquaintances, friends and relatives, and relax and enjoy themselves as only they know how to!
Unfortunately it's now hard to find a book that satisfies me and pulls the emotional heartstrings quite as much after reading this series.
"There be dragons, and he’d been riding on one for too long."
So it comes to an end. I am currently in mourning. I was desperate to get through Dan and Vadim’s story because I needed to see how this epic love story ended. Now that it’s over I want to start all over again. I miss them.
Special Forces put me through the wringer. I am, at this moment an emotional basket case. Honestly though? It was worth it. Getting to see the development of a relationship that spans 25 years with beautiful highs and soul crushing lows was just amazing and ‘Veterans’ made it all worth it.
"Separated not by war – but by peace."
Now to get to the good stuff you need to go through the tough stuff and the first 2/3’s of ‘Veterans’ is the tough stuff. Both Dan and Vadim need to face their demons, learn to live with all that has come before and most of all they both need to heal. That healing is not easy for either, their inability to communicate makes it all even more painful to witness. But ‘Veterans’ is very cathartic and even though it felt like my heart had yet again been ripped out things never felt completely hopeless. The gift of a bullet in the Kuwaiti desert gives you something to hang onto and a love that was forged in hell fire seems able to withstand just about anything.
"Pain always brought relief in the end. Even if it was only the relief of its absence."
There are still things that I don’t understand. Decisions they have made along the way and things they do that I still don’t get but Dan and Vadim are not perfect, not by a long shot. Like us all they are flawed and those flaws make what they have even more wonderful. This series has poked at a lot of soft spots for me, it has also thrown stuff at me that has made me feel deeply uncomfortable and previously would’ve made me stop reading. I’m still not comfortable with some of the things that happened but for some reason I’ve learned to accept the things they did to each other and those around them.
"Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real".
Without a doubt my favourite of the 3 cycles has been ‘Soldiers’ even though they cause each other the most damage in it we get to see something amazing happen. We get to see two enemies, two wild animals find something that is beautiful and fragile in events that are ugly and cruel. That something somehow continues to grow even when neglected and the results are truly epic. I really miss them.
WOW!!! 25 years and it’s over 😪. While I’ve had my hair pulling issues with this series, as a whole its a 5 star. I made myself go into Veterans with a more open mind regarding Dan and Jeans relationship. I needed to really try to understand it instead of just hating the whole situation and what they were doing to Vadim. Jean and Dans relationship caused me so much anxiety and I mean that literally. I was so tense just anticipating the moments when they were going to be together and I was always heartbroken when I saw how intimate they were on a level deeper than sex and how Dan didn’t save anything for just him and Vadim. A part of my heartbreak was the fact that Dan kept insisting that he was not in love with Jean when obviously their friendship was more than just that. But I realized at some point that Dan was not in love with Jean. It was just that Jean gave him something that he needed but could not get from Vadim. Dan was a ‘carer’ for Vadim. He had to be strong for him because for a while Vadim was weak. With he and Vadim it was ALL about Vadim and what he was dealing with. But what about Dan? Jean provided a relationship that was light, without pain and with a tenderness that He needed. I don’t think he and Vadim would have lasted without Dan having Jean. But I hated how Dan did not save anything for just he and Vadim. I also hated that in Veterans, his passion was more intense and loving with Jean. I would have liked to at least feel like ‘well at least the sex it better with Vadim’. But I didn’t feel that with this book. I also understood why Vadim told Dan no he didn’t want Dan to stop sleeping with Jean. I hated it but I got it. Just like Hoosh gave him something Dan couldn’t...well vice versa. But at least with Vadim and Hoosh it was obvious who was most important in each of their lives. I also like that the last quarter of the book mostly told the reader what was happening instead of showing us. I say this because I was sick to my stomach with Dan and Jean and was happy to not have to ‘see’ them having sex. So the fact that it turned to just mentions that they were meeting up was enough. Also the drama for the MC’s was over. It was long over due. They deserved to just happily drift through the years with no more challenges. I loved this series. It will be in my heart forever.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I don't think I can put into words how I truly felt about this story. If you're reading reviews on the final chapter, then you probably already know what you've gotten into.
All I can say, is that after 25 years with Dan and Vadim, I've been shown depths and complexities of human emotion and desires that I never knew before, including some I never thought I wanted to understand. There is a quote in Soldiers, in which Vadim explains to Dan why reading is important to him. That it is about discovering truths.
“What good has the truth done you, eh?” Uncapping, he took a swig of water, feeling better with every gulp.
“At least I know that there are many truths. It’s about learning to think different thoughts. Know things that you never felt. You could know what being rich feels like, or being in love, without ever getting real feeling."
And that is why I read. For stories like this one. It will be with me forever and always, and I am incredibly grateful for the authors for having shared it.
I really can't believe it's over. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
Maybe laugh, because I made it through all those nights of staying up until stupid ‘o’clock. Reading until my eyes burned and being woken up by my Kindle smashing me in the face because I fell asleep whilst reading in bed again. Honestly though, I think I'll probably just cry. This series was so much more than I ever could have expected and I am devastated that I've finished...
************** Spoilers Ahead *******************
I will admit, the first 10% of this book was a complete slap in the face. I had to stop for the night at 5% because I was so emotional and angry. After having the knee replacement that he stupidly put off for over six months, Dan is completely lost. He feels he has lost his purpose in life.
'The hole that nothing could fill. No future. No more 'Mad Dog'. Mad Dog was dead, he's died on the operating table.'
I think the reason I found this part so difficult was because they both had genuine reasons for acting the way they did. Dan deserved to feel this way, to have time to grieve for the life and the job that he loved. But I also felt so sorry for Vadim. He has been doing everything possible to make things easier for Dan, whilst waiting for him to come home. The six months apart has been absolute hell, so lonely and sad.
'Welcome home, Dan. I only waited six months or so.'
He kept busy by doing up the house and making sure that he has work, money and a life to come back to. But Dan just feels lost; the house is nothing like he had imagined it would be, he feels he has lost his home, his job, his old life. Dan just shuts down; he doesn't talk, doesn't laugh and refuses speak at all. Their sex life becomes non-existent and the whole between them just grows and grows. That's what broke my heart. Dan doesn't think Vadim could possibly love him or want him anymore so he just keeps pushing Vadim away. Vadim just becomes more and more furious. He feels Dan has had enough time to come to terms with his new life and is angry that he still won't talk to him. His plan to get Dan back was incredible. To take him into the mountains, away from the house and everything that puts space between them.
'Most of all, keep him from the whiskey, fucking force him to sleep close, exercise the hurt, the rage.'
And holy shit does it work. It was incredible to see them reconnect, some of the most amazing scenes in the entire series. Vadim, you are a genius.
This book sees Dan and Vadim make some massive changes in their lives, but for me, unfortunately some things never change and that brings me to Jean. I was one of the few people that actually liked Jean, but after his actions in the last two books, I just want someone to punch him in the face. I still don't hate him, but the way he behaves is appalling. The one thing I hate the most is the way he is with Dan and Vadim. He jumps into their bed and thinks he can call all the shots. Who does what, what he wants, what he doesn't want. Dan and especially Vadim apparently just have to do whatever he wants, which is bullshit! On more than one occasion, Dan and Vadim argue about Jean and what makes it worse is that Vadim has sacrificed so much for him but Dan always protects Jean and doesn't seem to care about what Vadim wants.
"He came into our bed, and whatever his intentions, that wasn't completely innocent." "No, but you know that he really doesn't want to get fucked." "Yeah, like he's straight."
What he wants? Again? Come on Dan. I'm sorry, but if you don't like it, Jean, get the fuck out of their bed! I think Vadim's reactions are totally justified. 'It wasn't all sun and light what he was feeling for Jean. In a way, it was payback, he wanted to get Jean to lose it, to want to get fucked, wanted to humiliate him and fuck him raw.' Vadim is just sick to death of Dan allowing Jean to get in their way, which he has no right to do. Why won't anybody believe that I'm straight? It's because you're a bit of a whore, who every time your lovely wife's back is turned, you're shoving you dick in another guy that will start to fall in love with you. Who you will then tell to get over it because you're straight. Bollocks! It's the biggest lead of bullshit, and I think he's just taking the piss out of Solange. Which is not cool. Anyway, enough of Jean because I am starting to get pissed off. LOL
It was wonderful to see Dan and Kisa finally meet. I thought it was so sweet that they met up for ice-cream and that they are so blunt and honest with each other from the very beginning. '"You look nothing like a father. Nothing like my friends Dad's." Dan couldn't help but laugh. "What the fuck did you expect me to look like?" Wincing. Damn! He hadn't meant to swear. She laughed, seemed it was funny that an old geezer talked that way.'
I was also glad that Vadim made peace with Nikolai (love that name, one of my favourite names ever) and that they became really close. Even though it work out so well with Anoushka, the man-hating lesbian. (Vadim's words, not mine LOL).
I loved that in this book we got a huge update on some of the characters that we have met throughout this incredible journey, at Dan and Vadim's wedding. Yes, I said wedding! Which resulted in a very unattractive happy dance from me. LOL With the likes of Maggie who has been such a brilliant friend and who took great pleasure in planning their wedding. Dima and Markus, Manke (the guy who helped Vadim after he was released from the Lubyanka), Beavuais, the couple from London, all the Krasnorada's, Duncan and his family and many may more... Just showing how many lives Dan and Vadim gave touched. It was so beautiful.
Hooch and Matt played a big part in the second half of this book, which was fantastic. Getting to see things from Hooch's POV was amazing. We saw how much it hurt Vadim to let Hooch go, he knows that they will be together and the unrequited love is just too painful. Hooch thinks the world of Vadim, but he's in love with Matt and seeing Hooch realise that was one of the most breath-taking moments I have ever read in this series.
"If I told you that I wanted to spend my days and nights with you, live with you, as my partner, because out there, In Hell, I realised that you mean the world to me? That you are my sanity, my laughter, my lust, my love, my comfort, my day and my night, my heat my cold and everything? If I told you that, would you think that translates to 'convenient?'" Matt swallowed, staring at Hooch wide-eyed. "N...no." "Damn right. Now shut up, Donahue, and tell me that you'll spend the rest of your life with me."
I know I have talked on forever about this book, as I have done with all the others before it, but there is so much more I could say. No amount of words could ever explain the way I felt once I read that last page. This journey has been heart-breaking, gut wrenching, devastating, infuriating... touching, eye-opening, and so much more than I had ever imagined it could be and I am so sad that the end has come.
I want to say a massive thanks to everyone in the group read thread... You all know who you are. This wouldn't have been the same without you all holding my hand and talking through everything as we went along. Last, but certainly not least, to you Aleksandr Voinov. For letting us all read your beautiful words and for allowing me and my friends to crash-land in your wonderful group and set up camp, where we could all go through this together. And for being a pretty awesome guy :)