Terminus Fringe Worlds #1 by Kevin Hardman

3.5/5 Stars – A Space Marine Adventure

So I was trawling for my next read and fancied a military Sci-fi and Terminus popped up on my feed. Was it fate, destiny calling? Errr no, it was Amazon analytics. Why not, I thought, it’s got an armoured cyborg man dual wielding assault rifles whilst the world burns on the cover. Yep, as shallow as that I picked it up. I wanted a Diehard esc action set in the future and this would do nicely.

I guess I got some of what I asked for. Arrogant Maker our protagonist is a disgraced former special-ops marine living a peaceful life on an out-of-the-way planet minding his own business with no one but an alien called Erlen for company, which is not his pet, though everyone seems to think it is.

Into his world steps a former commander a doctor and a politician (No this is not the start of a joke). It seems they need him for a mission and he is the only man for the job. This reminded me in a small way of Aliens. You know, that scene where Ripley tells them about the alien and the world they found it on and the powers that be ignored her warnings before dragging her ass in to fix it years later when it all went a bit scooby-do, that one.

I won’t give too much of the story away, suffice to say it gets a bit Dirty Dozen (although it is more half-dozen to be accurate). Maker of course gets tempted back in, he is a soldier at heart and this is his chance to step back into the ring, so to speak. He cobbles together a team of misfits like him who struggle to fit into the military machine and after the shortest of introductions they are off, time is of the essence you see.

There are lots of guns and action. An evil alien race, led by a sinister alien commander with high-tech weaponry. Things are not always what they seem, however, and it is quickly apparent that the only people Maker and his team can trust are themselves.

I thought the story was okay but it never gripped me as I wanted it to. The science was pretty loose (that is being generous) but I wasn’t reading it for that and it wasn’t the type of story to bog itself down in scientific jargon or exposition. The depiction of the military was also simplistic and the act spent at the military base felt a bit more like boarding school than it did an actual military camp. That said the writing itself was fine, the story moved along at a fast pace and the descriptive narrative flowed well and I was able to picture each scene easily. The opening scenes I was not a fan of though where Maker recounted the mission that got him booted out of the military to a couple of people he didn’t know. It was a clever way in some respects of providing perspective and a back story for our hero but it was, for me, a little cumbersome.

Overall, the story was a bit formulaic and predictable. Our marines felt more like a bunch of mercenaries than a military unit. Maker did his own thing and half the time so did the rest of his unit. The bad guy was a bit of a cardboard cut-out. I think a scene from his perspective doing something sinister and evil would have cemented his badassery more in my head and make me care about Maker bringing him down. There is more I could say but it would give spoilers. I think as an opening novel in a series of ‘space marine’ adventures it was okay. It is suitable for YA readers and may indeed be targeted more at that audience but it did not give me enough to want to read the next in the series.    

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