I only recently became aware of Harvey Black (after the publication of his second book) and, although I have since got to know Harvey through the medium of Twitter, I was still a little daunted by the prospect of Devils With Wings. My area of interest is very much ancient and medieval history, and WW2 is somewhat out of my comfort zone (though I enjoy a good war movie as much as the next man).
It turns out that I waited with unneccessary trepidation. I'll forego the plot rundown as it's given in other reviews. I'll focus instead on strengths and weaknesses.
The strengths of the novel are:
The characters, who are believable and sympathetic and have an excellent interplay and arc. Their cameraderie and humour is just what you might expect from such a unit and shows elements of the author's past and knowledge. Choosing to write a story from the persepective of the Germans in the war is a brave move, I think, and to make them reasonable and sympathetic (which I realise many would have been) despite all the prejudices of the reader is a masterful feat.
The story. The story and the pace at which it is told keeps the reader turning to find out what happens next. At no point did I hit a lull that gave me pause. For me, regardless of the training and the actual assault that form the bulk of the book, the best (and most tense) part was the flight of the gliders and the build-up to the main show. The main strength within the story itself is the sheer detail, which most clearly of all shows the author's astounding knowledge and understanding of the subject.
The weaknesses for me were:
The editing. This is something I am aware that I suffer from in my own work and is the bane of almost all self-published and small press publications. Though the failure in editing did not ruin my enjoyment of the book and certainly will not put me off reading the sequel, it did jar at times. Having now spoken to the author, I believe that this may be corrected in a future edition and is not the case with the sequel. It is the editing that knocked off the otherwise-deserved 5th star for me and if this is changed in the next imprint, that extra star will be added.
A little confusion (though this has not impacted on my star rating as it is more my failing than the books for my lack of understanding of the period.) I felt at times as though the book could have done with a small section at the beginning on the organisation of the units involved and the ranks (which are given in German throughout.) In addition, a map or overview of the princpipal locations (including a schematic of the fort) would have been amazingly helpful to me.
All in all, a big well-done. I look forward to reading both Silk Drop and, when it comes out, Frozen Sun.