Author: Robert Buettner
Publisher: Orbit Books
Second Book in the Jason Wander series
Different Plot. Different Location. Different Mission. Same Jason Wander. - 4 stars - a book review
"A Confederate sharpshooter's ball slew our drummer today, as he took breakfast on a fair July morning. The lad joined up when his parents died, and had not passed fourteen. They say it is a soldier's lot to die young and unexpectedly. Or to live and forever question God why he was spared. For me, should I live, I shall ask what cruel God makes death an orphan's destiny."
-True Occurrences During the Great Battle at Gettysburg; Recountings of a Soldier of the Sixty-first Ohio Infantry (excerpt from the opening of Orphan's Destiny).
After eradicating the slug force on Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, Jason Wander returns to an earth on the brink of economic collapse. The leaders of earth are declaring that the slugs have been completely annihilated and pose no additional threat; thereby transitioning to a post-war economy of reconstruction. Needless to say, Jason Wander is a General out of his comfort zone (if he ever had one). Then, the slugs come back with an armada for a full scale assault on the planet earth. The problem? Earth is not ready to fight another war and has only limited resources and no options to possibly win. Sounds like the odds Wander is used to.
ORPHAN'S DESTINY is drastically different from its predecessor, ORPHANAGE. This addition to the series focuses a bulk of the prose toward politicking and the things that Jason has staunchly stated he cares nothing about; however, duty is duty. The final act focuses on what ORPHANAGE was all about: the infantry men doing whatever it takes to get the job done. While the plot elements may be different, the voice of the story is largely commentary on military issues and personnel. It is refreshing that despite the change in locale and mission, the story remains relatively comfortable in the tradition of military science.
While the reader must suspend some belief at the areas of science and realism, there is a wonderful tale woven on earth and in space. Some areas of science (especially in space travel and engine capacities) were only glossed over and not given proper face time, it is forgiven as I wouldn't expect such from a purely militaristic science fiction story. This book is not about science or space travel or futuristic technologies; it is about the personnel that harness these abilities; and for that alone, Buettner exceeds expectations.
Wander is one of the most interesting characters, and his development (along with the development of characters introduced in ORPHANAGE and a host of new characters) is remarkable. At every turn Wander reinforces his ideology while still learning and growing every step of the way. Obviously reading ORPHANAGE will prove to provide a better reading experience, but this book is one that shouldn't be missed.
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