Days of Burning, Days of Wrath
I’ve been waiting for this novel nearly 10 years. Yes, I bought the eARC. Yes I know it may differ from what gets published later this year- I don’t care! I’ll buy the finished product too. This was worth it.
Days of Burning, Days of Wrath is the conclusion of conflict on Terra Nova, between the Timocratic Republic of Balboa and nearly everybody else on their planet. Balboa is freeing itself from the last death gasp clutches of the Zhong Army which invaded its shores, even as Hamilcar Carrera is making his way across the ocean, for what purpose we can only guess at.
Kratman’s character dynamics are such that no two characters are exactly alike. The Zhong Empress, consistent with what we’ve seen before, is a self-serving excuse of evil. She is static in nature, to the point that I dare say she shows no growth at all, her relationship with Wallenstein being something ongoing. Opposed to this is General Javier, the Gallic General who led the invasion of Balboa. He has changed a great deal, both in relation to the world around him, and in how he responds. At last, he is finally worthy of the field marshal’s baton which he possesses.
These varying degrees of learning (or lack thereof) are part of what makes a Kratman novel so much fun. He writes people as they are, and what they may become. The latter is the most important in my opinion- he shows us what can be. Another author might have given Moises Rocaberti a full redemption arc and a joyous ending. Kratman gives him the gallows and a pauper’s grave. Note however, that’s it’s always earned, not given out of spite or coincidence.
DoBDoW is full of Kratman’s preferred witty banter between characters, and an internal dialogue worth a laugh or three. The pacing is solid, whether or not you binge the book, reading all of it in a single sitting. It stays true to the origin story A Desert Called Peace. Kratman is organized and consistent in his continuity, something other authors struggle with.
There is also the political element present in his work. This too comes full circle, though we don’t see a complete resolution, we know it’s there. Kratman’s novels have long been a condemnation of progressivism. DoBDoW is no different. How it happens is best left to reading and learning for yourself, because I don’t feel like spoilers today. I will confess that I was saddened to not see an invasion of Old Earth. I earnestly hope Tom gives us such a novel. Or three. They, like the rest of his body of work, would be worth the shekels.
If you’re in need of a quality military SF story, stop looking and start reading. You’d be a fool to pass up this much-anticipated sequel. It’s worth every penny and then some.