Author: Robert Buettner
Publisher: Orbit Books
Notes: Third book in the Jason Wander series
The Hero We Deserve and the Hero We Need - 4 stars - a book review
"Patton, himself, pinned my Purple Heart on my pillow today. I told him our Shermans were coffins. Undergunned, underarmored. The gasoline engine makes them rolling bombs. Still, I took on a German Tiger. My boys burned alive. I cried, and I thought he'd slap me. But he patted my shoulder and whispered, "Son, the army's a big family. But command is an orphan's journey." Then that SOB cried with me."Brief Synopsis:
-Tank Commander's letter from France, December 1944 (an excerpt from the beginning of Orphan's Journey)
The hero of Robert Buettner's military science fiction series returns in the fourth installment of the Jason Wander series. ORPHAN'S JOURNEY begins right where ORPHAN'S DESTINY ended: with the capture of a slug vessel. Jason Wander's godson appears to be the only human that might have the reflexes to pilot the alien craft. In a test run, everything goes wrong and Jason is once again thrust into a situation that is beyond his control; but not beyond his command. The vessel essentially goes on autopilot and crash lands on an alien planet that seems analogous to our own earth. As Jason and his small crew learn about the cultures and battles occurring on this planet, the slugs make yet another appearance and Jason must once again rally the troops in a battle that seems unlikely to be won.
Out of all the Jason Wander books so far, ORPHAN'S JOURNEY is the weakest; however, it is still a worthwhile read and creates a beautiful story arc as to where the series is going. There is less internal struggle portrayed in the mind of Jason Wander, now that he lacks a Commanding Officer. Some of the best and most classic moments of the first couple of books were the commentary about the nature of command, and ORPHAN'S JOURNEY lacks this aspect. However, there are several comparisons drawn and examples from our history. Eisenhower is mentioned several times, and I view this as Jason Wander growing and maturing. The coming of age story is really starting to become much more prevalent. At the conclusion of the book it becomes obvious where the series is going and the impending war between man and slug.
Jason Wander is a hero in every sense of the word; and, one of the most thought provoking themes in this series is the price of heroism and the nature of being a hero. Jason often appears to despise his acts of heroism and almost attributes them to shear luck or to the units he commands.
ORPHAN'S JOURNEY is an authentic work of human compassion and it triumphs in the glimpse portrayed of the fundamental necessity to survive.
It is also impossible to deny the cover art by Calvin Chu.
Plants and Books