Bennett R. Coles – Ghosts of War

Spectres born of combat

The Terran military has defeated the invading fleet, but the war is far from over. As a covert agent embeds himself on Earth, advanced Centauri technology enables him to pry into the military‘s most secure files, accessing secrets that could lead to millions of deaths.

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Kane, Lieutenant Katja Emmes and Sublieutenant Jack Mallory again find themselves at the forefront of the planet’s defences. Yet terrorism isn’t the only threat they face. Given what they’ve experienced, their greatest challenge may be defeating the memories of war.

Spoilers! So proceed with caution. 

As I stated in my review of Bennett R. Coles’ Virtues of War, I wanted to read the next instalment in the series, Ghosts of War, to see if my impression would change for the better. Unfortunately, after rereading my comments about that novel, it has not. The combat is excellent, the rest good and the moral and philosophical layer is a bit lacking for me. On top of that this story takes one turn that made me go “huh”. This book is still a solid read, but to me it averages out to the worst kind: an average book.

The most interesting story line is once again that of Katja Emmes. In the first part of the novel she suffers from PTSD, so no action scenes from her. But this is an interesting new angle to explore with this character. The solution to her problems, however, is not character growth, emotional healing or treatment. The solution is to put her back in uniform and suddenly she is all right again. There is much more, good world building and the introduction of an interesting opposing side viewpoint in the form of an agent from Centauri.  Also there is some exploration of the other characters from Virtues of War, but in the end none of them grow beyond what they were in the first novel. The second half of the book saves the first part where they build up to the finale. Again the action is very well written, but in total it left me a bit disappointed realising that it did not live up to my expectations of improvement.

Wiebe van der Salm

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