Living in her war-hero father's shadow, Lieutenant Katja Emmes was transferred last minute to the craft Rapier - she is fully trained in combat and has the ability to run airship attacks, but she has never led troops in a real assault before, so it's understandable that she could be nervous about following in her father's footsteps. Jack Mallory, her sub-lieutenant is as fresh as she is and tries his hardest to do his duty in wartime, but his mind isn't on the job as he is the type of man who dreams of being a fighter pilot, yet he could be in for a shock. Lieutenant Commander Kane is up for promotion and he thinks he might be setting himself up for big things being a part of the Rapier's men. He gets to grips with the politics of the profession even if he has to realise that there are people around who pretend to be noble, and inside are brutally evil.
In Virtues of War, these are three of the ten men and women who will run the Rapier and find out that life isn't what it appears to be when they are on the front lines of battle. The story follows Emmes, Mallory and Kane into a mission that could make or break them as key personnel. Their leader, Katja has her doubts about her leadership skills as when they are out there on the mission, she has no chance to call on her own superiors. She is alone and she doesn't know how well she will perform in the thick of battle. These doubts have her thinking whether her men will respect her, or be inspired by her. She hopes she can keep them alive long enough for that. Katja is obviously new to being in this situation, but she does make decisions that might make her seem more battle ready than she thought. A tomboy image and guts to boot give her the edginess needed to lead. Sub Lieutenant Jack Mallory has a touch of pilot envy as he has no connection to the Hawks he flies, he just flies them. He has aspirations to be a Strike Fighter Pilot, but doesn't know how that will happen. Lieutenant Commander Kane isn't so sure of he can do it, believing that ten years ago he might have been up to the task of running a ship, but is seriously unsure of how he would approach being a leader now.
Coles has used his military knowledge to create a military novel set in a higher tech universe which concerns three different officers who have the potential to do well in the future, yet even in a future setting, humans have their flaws and setbacks. Coles is a supporter of Canadian and American writers through the publisher Promontory Press. Readers will be amazed at the ferocity, the battles and the bravery of the three officers concerned who perform their duties to their very best to help save the people from other planets.
Review by Sandra Scholes
by Bennett R Coles
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