The sequel to A Hymn Before Battle, this book takes place after the events of the first. The Posleen are on their way, and it’s up to Mike O’Neal and the rest of the military of Earth and the Galactics to defend the entire galaxy from their invasion. Unfortunately, their path leads them straight to Earth.
Gust Front is an interesting form of military science fiction, a book that takes the combat and strategy seriously in the face of fantastical scenarios. Ringo knows about the military, being a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, and it shows. The combat is realistic and the jargon used is effective in conveying a living military.
The story is that the impending invasion of Earth is coming, so the forces of the planet focus on defending large fortresses while essentially tossing away sections of the country. The planning as far as deciding how to defends specific regions of the United States are interesting, and show a knowledge of military tactics missing in other books of this genre.
However, the book does get bogged down in battle so much that it seemingly forgets about characters or certain storylines until the end of the book. Mike gets stuck away from the battle, and the focus switches to the battle in Virginia. The entire plot thread following Mike’s wife on a starship is essentially forgotten about until a short sentence is thrown in at the end of the book mentioning it.
Without spoiling too much, the story develops exactly as expected, and certain things from the first book are brought back for lighthearted effect. It works well, and is a fun addition to see elements from the previous book. Mike is still an interesting character, though I felt like he’s almost “hero man” without flaw or development. However, that’s not so much a detraction if you know that he’s that type of character.
I should also mention the book is over 700 pages long, but I read through it in about two weeks. It’s captivating, interesting, and a perfect example of how to do ground combat right in military science fiction.