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on 31 October 1998
"The Forge" is the first of a five volume set that details the conquest of an early industrial age planet by a brilliant military commander. The planet Bellevue is a colony world that is sinking into barbarism after an interstellar civil war has cut off all travel between worlds. Each successive cycle of time drags civilzation further and further back. But the one remaining operating computer on the planet has taken on the task of reversing this entropy, and raising man back to his former power - with the help of Raj Whithall, the youngest military commander in the army of the Civil Government.
I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series, and have re-read it at least three times. The characters are engaging, the environment is seamless, and the action will keep you up late into the night. At least you don't have to wait for the next volume to be released like I did!
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on 28 October 1998
The Forge begins a fascinating and tremendously enjoyable collection of five books, continuing with The Hammer, The Anvil, The Steel, and the Sword. The lead character, Raj Ammenda Halgern Da Luis Whitehall is a military officer in a society living on the planet Bellevue which was cut off from the rest of interstellar civilization when civil war destroyed Man's ability to travel between stars. The chaos that followed drove the succeeding generations further and further toward barbarism. During Raj's time, the technology of the ancients is worshipped as holy. Now with the help of a still active ancient computer, Raj is tasked with reuniting his world and reversing the social entropy.
These novels have some of the most entertaining prose and most convincing battle scenes I have ever read. I have read this series at least 5 times. Thankfully, you will not have to wait for the rest of the series as I did.
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on 1 August 1999
Having read this series only weeks after Forstchen's Lost Regiment tour de force, I was not prepared to be so impressed by the tremendous stature of these books. Aficianados of military science fiction will not be displeased at this cycle nor its sequel, The Chosen.
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on 19 January 1999
This book, and the following series was incredible. The whole concept was fantastic and the way Drake and Stirling put everything together and with such incredible attention to detail really makes this THE book and THE series to read!!!
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on 6 May 1997
The first of a very good series. It is based on a historical character, but I won't give him away, its much more fun to figure it out on your own. Hint: Robert Graves wrote a novel about the person who's life is the basis for this series, the initials of Graves book are "CB"
Once you figure out who Raj Whitehall is based on you really begin to worry about how it is all going to come out. I figured it out one book before the series ended. For military history buffs and anyone else who enjoys a good story.
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on 1 February 2007
Brilliant original military science fiction!!!

This book was surprisingly good, I did judge the book by the cover originally and was not keen but liked the idea and I am sooo glad I tried this because it was brilliant!

This was Volume 1 in the Raj Whitehall series so after finishing this one I quickly bought up the others and went through them too. Its so good. I would recommend this to anyone who likes military science fiction. I love the Sharpe series about the Napoleonic wars and this felt very similar with set battles and tactics and great characters. So if you like Sharpe too you should love this as well.

I love all of Stirling's books but this series is one of my all time favourites. If I had to quickly pick 10 books to take with me to an isolated island I think I might take this series its that good.
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