In Review: By Blood Alone

Dietz can create engaging battle scenes on every world known and imagined.

By Blood Alone by William C. Dietz

Published by Titan Books, October 3, 2014. Paperback of 368 pages at £7.99.

The cover: A cyborg fighter stands ready–Its five eyes checking to see that readers aren’t a potential threat. This is only the third volume of Titan Books’ reprinting of Dietz’s Legion of the Damned series, but I’m really impressed with these covers showing different fighters. This one is a brown painted solider that could be best used in desert settings, which would make a lot of sense considering that’s where most of the book takes place. Fantastic image from Dreamstime/Funny Little Fish. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “A generation after the second war against the Hudathans, discontent is growing in the Human Empire, and military cutbacks see many former legionnaires out on the streets. When Bill Booly III, son and grandson of the great war heroes of the same name, refuses to give false testimony in the military court, his punishment is being sent to the most unpopular place in the galaxy: Earth. But when a group of rogue legionnaires try to overthrow the government, Booly finds Earth the pivotal point of battle–a battle which can be resolved by blood alone.” This is an interesting direction to take the series–Earth! The previous two books dealt with alien enemies, so it’s going to be very different to see a coup being lead on the Legion’s homeworld. Overall grade: A

The characters: As with the previous two book, and the Andromeda series, there are many characters, as there should be when a book focuses on a legion of soldiers. There are essentially five key characters in the novel. The protagonist is Bill Booly III, the son of half-breed Booly II, and grandson of human Bill Booly. He doesn’t have the abilities that his father had, but he is still better than most humans for speed. He is an honorable legionnaire, and that makes him the perfect hero for this novel. The first antagonist introduced is Matthew Pardo, a legionnaire on trial for stealing and selling guns. Booly is told by superior officers to say Pardo didn’t do the crime because his mother is Governor Patricia Pardo, an up and comer in the government–one with a lot of pull. Booly, being honorable, can’t do it, and Matthew is found guilty. I didn’t think that he would be returning to the novel, but circumstances have him coming back and being the worst of all possible enemies. His mother, the governor, also has a major part in this book, as one of the leading figures involved with the civil war. She is vicious, knows how to play the political game, and her one failing is her son. They deserve each other. The last major antagonist is Colonel Leon Harco. He’s in the legion and he wants his men to have the respect and financial support the government once gave them. He has lots of pull with many men and he is responsible for the legionnaires that turn traitor. He was an outstanding character and was constantly evolving as the book progressed. The last character is deep space prospector Jorley Jepp. He’s gone a little stir crazy being the last survivor on his ship and he encounters something that leads him in a direction to change the course of human, and intergalactic, history. His story occasionally interrupts the story of the siege of Earth, but it becomes apparent by the novel’s end how important he’ll be in the next book. There are also several characters from the previous book, The Final Battle, that also appear, and they were fantastic to see, but I’ll leave them unnamed so as not to spoil their appearances. Overall grade: A+

The settings: Much of the book is set on Earth, in Djibouti, in Booly’s loyal legion outpost. It’s a great, isolated setting and there’s much that happens there. Dietz’s descriptions of this location created a solid image in my head. There are a few scenes in the underground, hidden bunker of the traitors, and it’s very close to every James Bond villain’s uber-base. It was very cool. Scenes also occur where violence breaks out, aboard ships, other bases, Los Angeles, but Djibouti gets the lion’s share of scenes. Overall grade: A

The action: I was very fearful of what this book would have for action, having had alien worlds and alien warriors in the previous two books. I didn’t know if Dietz could have the action match those novels, now settling for Earth. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If anything, having the action set on Earth intensified the action as it was “home” that was under attack. Having a squad of Naa under Booly’s command certainly added a unique element into their defensive and offensive measures. All I know is that after reading this book, Dietz can create engaging battle scenes on every world known and imagined. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: A brutal ending to a brutal war that was absolutely satisfying. It ends exactly how it should. Yet, Jorley has a new role and he could change everything…Overall grade: A+

The final line: My favorite book so far in the series. Civil war created and fought by opposing sides of the Legion is incredibly engaging. I couldn’t put this down once I started. Overall grade: A

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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