VICTORY by Christopher Hoare
VICTORY is the second book in Christopher Hoare’s conflict-ridden
series starring Gisel Matah, a top Iskander agent. She’s a character
readers will love.
is the first installment of this three part series. Here’s the blurb
Gisel Matah is the Iskanders' top agent, but often her commanders' chief
pain in the neck. Sometimes passionate, sometimes tough, sometimes acerbic,
she's clever and always ready to twist their intentions to meet circumstances
as she sees them.
Escorting young Yohan Felger across a haunt of outlaws to an enemy city
was already a daunting task, but when her commanders changed her mission
to include sounding out the leaders to switch sides it became a Deadly
On Gaia, an alternate Earth, the crew of the lost starship Iskander
find themselves working for and against the inhabitants of a different
17th Century Europe. Building themselves a place in this world by promoting
social change and an Industrial Revolution, they become enemies of the
Trigons - also marooned star travelers, who now rule the Empire. But
an enemy can be defeated with humanity when the person in charge is
a rebel at heart.
In THE WILDCAT’S
VICTORY, it opens with the murder of Durden, an Iskander agent posing
as a technician with Gisel tracking down the killer. From the start,
the story has a Battlestar Galactica feel to it. That said, if science
fiction isn’t your thing, don’t shy away from this series. The reason
I say this is I don’t usually read books in that genre. In fact, I
usually refuse to read them at all.
I’m not sure
what attracted me to the book. It might have been the cover. Take a
look. (You can click on the cover to enlarge.) Doesn’t it look different?
The book is published by Double Dragon Publishing. They carry science
fiction, fantasy and horror titles, which this series is a blend of
both science fiction and fantasy.
Now that I
think of it, I don’t usually judge a book by its cover. That’s not
always a good indicator the book is worthwhile. I think it was the blurb
that made my decision. Here’s what it said:
Follow Gisel Matah and the thunder of hooves as she strikes back at
the Imperial armies that threaten all she has worked for. She must defy
every established world power to bring justice to common peasants and
workers in societies now ruled by greedy aristocrats. Her covert activities
require her to protect her fledgling Radical movement from both friends
Risking her life and her love, Gisel negotiates even greater hazards
in a wide ranging adventure. Her partner, Yohan Felger, becomes a problem
when the Baron has him smuggle a steam engine to the Empire. Gisel knows
of the subterfuge but cannot admit it, while Yohan is almost torn apart
by the need to deceive her. Faced with removing the pressure on Yohan
as he moves his contraband engine, she accepts the offer of General
Lord Ricart, an ex-lover, to command a cavalry unit in battle. Her reckless
courage is needed to carry out missions against two Imperial armies.
The fight finds her opposed by ever increasing odds until in the final
confrontation she must outwit two enemies who vie to dominate Iskander.
New friends, allies, and enemies as well as all the old ones fill the
pages when Gisel Matah sets out to gain "The Wildcat's Victory".
huh? I do want to add that I have the hard copy of this book. If you
have an eReader, something I have vowed to get one day, you can head
over to Double Dragon Publishing where you can purchase Deadly Enterprise
and THE WILDCAT’S VICTORY in ebook format for only $5.99 each.
downside to this post. I won’t be raffling this book off today. The
reason is Steve (the hubby) wants to read this book too. But first,
he wants to read DEADLY ENTERPRISE I do too. When I post the review
for DEADLY ENTERPRISE, I’ll raffle off both books.
As always with
these types of combo raffles, I’ll combine the posts here with the
posts for DEADLY ENTERPRISE. But first, tell me, how many of you like
SciFi books? Any favorites? I am curious to know.
So until the
A kickass female protagonist
leads the charge in this alternate-earth fantasy. The Wildcat’s Victory
is the second in a series (the first being Deadly Enterprise) by Christopher
Gisel Matah is not only beautiful,
she’s strong and smart as a whip. She knows more than she’s
letting on as the book opens. Through slow reveals we learn the
backstory of the novel (for those that haven’t yet read Deadly Enterprise),
and see the deception behind every character as they try to protect
their own interests as well as the interests of their superiors.
At first I found the book confusing,
but within 10 pages I was hooked and reading more to clear up any remaining
confusion I felt. Christopher shoves you knee-deep in intrigue
and action and doesn’t let you go until the last page of this spell-binding
See an earth locked in a time
of near-progress, hindered by sins of the past and present, a war of
wits and weapons.
Get The Wildcat’s Victory
and prepare to sit on the edge of your seat, using your own wits to
keep up with Gisel’s.
The Wildcat’s Victory
Written by: Christopher Hoare
Science fiction / Fiction /
Rated: Very Good (****)
Review by: Lisa Haselton
Gisel Matah is back! Still
in her early 20s and now a Major, she’s still an Iskander operative
to be reckoned with. Her hands are full with balancing a love life,
dealing with an operative’s murder, and preparing soldiers for battle.
The Iskanders have an alliance
with the Felgers, a Gaian merchant and banker family. Yet there are
still areas where the trust wanes. Gisel’s engagement to Yohan Felger
hasn’t helped matters. Each has to balance duty to their people with
their desire to be honest with each other. The challenges they face
on a daily basis test their limits. How can she fully trust Yohan, when
he’s loyal to the Baron who has yet to accept her? What drew Yohan
to Gisel is now the same thing he has the hardest time accepting, especially
when her newest assignment has her directly reporting to her former
Life on Gaia has improved and
progress is being made, but with the murder of an undercover operative
and a radical movement that needs tempering, Gisel is not bored. In
addition, she is asked to command a cavalry to support the rear of a
battle line which has recently lost its commander. She hesitates to
accept, but is pulled into the role and quickly learns the challenges
ahead of her. A sadistic Skathian prince uses the battlefield for his
own enjoyment and strives to learn how to defeat both sides in order
to obtain total control.
The story is engaging and intriguing.
I liken it to an intense chess match. It’s interesting to see how
actions cause reactions and know that there is a third party lingering
on the sidelines about to blow all the strategies off the board. Gisel
trains her young cavalry men as best she can with the limited time they
have. At the climax, their lives hang on her quick thinking, negotiating
skills and ability to remain calm under pressure.
Christopher Hoare’s second
novel, The Wildcat’s Victory, picks up eighteen months after
Deadly Enterprise. The strong female protagonist, Gisel, is solid
and well-crafted. The author manages to keep the character’s voice
true to a young female officer with a lot of responsibility in a male-dominated
field. She comes off feminine yet also a strong warrior. The tight writing
and focused attention to detail keeps the reader engaged.
I recommend reading The
Wildcat’s Victory, especially if you are a strategist, chess player,
or war enthusiast. The battle scenes are succinct, yet detailed enough
to appreciate a commander’s skill needed for success. The pacing is
quite in tune with the scenes so the reader feels part of the action,
whether it’s calm or full of motion.
Robert Matah looked up from the keyboard when he heard a warning chime transmitted from somewhere in the bowels of the starship Iskander. A caution signal - with the overhaul of the Intruder complete, the workers were clearing the hangar in preparation for a launch.
He stared at the viewport across the empty control room. Below the starship’s stationary orbit the distant globe of Gaia shone like a turquoise jewel in full sunlight. It looked a lot like his Earth, but with a few big differences - no signs of space traffic, no huge grey blotches of cities, no Twenty-second Century bustle. This Earth was primitive, a world cast back in time -- the nearest guess they’d been able to make suggested five hundred years back. Nothing but sailing ships and cannon here, until his father got the steelworks and factories going.
Robert hated visiting the surface, resented losing the sophistication and stimulation of the world he’d grown up in. He and his sister, Gisel, had come along with their father on a mission to develop industry and resource extraction for a new colony called N-3 in their own galaxy. Intended as a ten-year stint, they’d go home with enough salary banked to set up any career they desired. Instead, they’d wound up here -- another Earth, but one with a different history. Five goddam years wasted so far! Somehow the Iskander had jumped right out of their own reality and wound up in something he’d believed was only a wild theory -- an alternate universe.
He glanced at the Situation Screen, almost the only instrument in the control room they hadn’t transported down to their base on the surface. It showed a map of the world, oh so similar to the map of home, but with enough differences in place names and coastlines to make it foreign.
He’d built up the map with individual strips of spectroscopic imagery from the low orbit satellite system he had charge of. The Intruder would launch one more of the satellites on its way down to the surface. One more with imaging capability as well as communications and navigation systems -- all brought from Earth to be used around N-3. Hope those folks were okay without them. He’d had to calculate an orbit that would allow this satellite to keep checking on a huge army headed their way from the Skathian heartland.
More goddamn trouble, it looked like -- as if they hadn’t enough. Gisel, the crazy one of the family, lapped this world up. Who would have thought the gawky little gymnast kid would blossom into their best agent, and damn-near best officer too? He had to admire her, if only begrudgingly. She’d switched from competition gymnastics to foils when she hit thirteen. Talk about landing in a pile of gold dust. Turned out, swordsmanship was the one damned thing they’d needed to make their way when they arrived. She’d been every crew member’s instructor. If you could carry a rapier, and at least keep from getting spitted, you were counted a gentleman among the locals. Lady? Not so sure, but Gisel carved her own way. Status was everything -- too bad he couldn’t even draw steel without damn-near cutting his own fingers off.
He stared down at the jumble of numbers on his computer screen, that he’d hoped would show how they’d wound up here. Another false trail -- nothing here to explain the jump out of their own universe. Best he get back to his other priority project. He was debugging the routine he’d written to decipher the Trigon Empire’s primitive radio messages they’d intercepted. It had to be in some language nobody had heard of. If only he had the key to it.
President Scopes -- plain old Dirk Scopes, intended to be N-3’s administrator five years ago -- had given him the task of piecing together all the data they’d gathered on the mysterious rulers of the Empire. He was damned certain the Trigons were also off-worlders who had wound up stranded on Gaia as well. Hardly anyone believed him, except Gisel. She’d sent him an account of an empire based around the Mediterranean, that the Trigons had conquered two hundred years ago.
That empire had probably descended from the Carthaginians -- seemed there’d never been a Roman Empire here, nor any of the institutions that had grown out of it. Nobody knew where the Trigons had come from, but rumors of some weapon called the Sky Thunder abounded. A spaceship? If it was, it seems it had crapped out in the intervening years; the Trigon Empire now enjoyed the same technology any other Seventeenth Century nation would have -- except for their analog radio.
The Emperor and his Trigon cohorts ruled this Empire with a heavy hand. They allowed no one to make a voyage of exploration or invent anything -- not even a mousetrap -- without Imperial say-so. Until the Iskander arrived.
As a team of resource scientists and engineers sent to develop the technical infrastructure on N-3, it had been a foregone conclusion they’d set themselves up to do the same here. They’d landed in Sweden -- called Tarnland on Gaia -- and intervened in a war of independence to ingratiate themselves with the Autarch and his nobles. Now his father, Henrik Matah PhD PEng, ran a modern steelworks and factory complex -- well almost modern. The Old Man had decided on a gradual development in order to train the locals to carry on the Iskander legacy. These people could learn steam engines and iron founding; whereas semiconductors, nuclear physics, and bioengineering were right out of everyone’s league. Damned hard to find enough of these dumb Gaians who could learn to swing a wrench without stripping every thread in sight. And even half the Iskanders were lost in anything more complex than matrix algebra.
So the Empire was out to get them. Gisel had experienced trouble with some heavy called Zagdorf, and the Imperial army had intervened in the war Iskander was helping its Tarnland ally win. Whomped the bastards at sea, though. The Empire ships were small sailing ships armed with a mess of mismatched cannon, so Father’s updated warships from the Napoleonic era had swept them from the Inland Sea. Baltic, that was. Yeah, sailing ships -- all the locals knew, except for the few steamships Iskander and the Felger Partnership had put to sea in the past eighteen months.
In the past year they’d made a big jump in production, now they had the Felger family enterprise to help move the products of Iskander factories. The Felgers were locals who owned the biggest trading, banking, and mining business in European Gaia. Gisel had been instrumental in getting the family on their side, probably because she could twist the Baron and his nephew Yohan around her little finger. Yohan was her new lover, the third she’d had since hitting the planet, and she insisted she was going to marry this one. She’d said that before. Good luck to the girl. She certainly carried more than her share of the load down there on the surface.
The warning chime came again; that meant the Intruder was about to launch. He’d better get back to work and quit staring out at Gaia floating amid the stars. With only six people who could work on the space plane, out of a hundred off-worlders, it had taken two months to complete a thousand-hour overhaul. Intruder was their lifeline, the shuttle between the Iskander in its stationary orbit and the surface. He hated the surface, so why did he feel so claustrophobic whenever Intruder left? If anything happened to it, he’d be even more stranded than his sister below, immersed in Gaian society.
Iskander had no fuel to move out of orbit, and couldn’t enter the atmosphere. Father had said it would take at least ten years to build and send a rocket up from the surface -- and he had no people to spare to work on such a project. Every person they had was stretched to the limit keeping what infrastructure they already possessed working. With only a hundred people trying to make over the whole world, they hit their heads against a wall as often as they made a breakthrough. Every small movement was a victory.