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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 November 2014
As others have noticed, this book contains various themes that can be found in previous pieces of military science fiction and that are pulled together here. The themes are inspired by the works of other military sci-fi authors, such as Robert Heinlen, Joe Haldeman and John Scalzi, which are explicitly listed in the book’s commercial blurb, but there are others as well. One scene (the battle of Detroit) is even inspired by Black Hawk Down and the battle in the streets of Mogadishu. For those who have read these books, you may get the impression that this one is bit of a “pot pourri” at times, with lots of ingredients thrown in and mixed up. To be fair, however, the mix works out pretty well, most of the time and there are some interesting comparisons to make, with Marlo Kloos’ universe of the “welfare rats” being much grimmer than the original that inspired it. Nevertheless, at times, the book may seem to border on the caricature.

You get the theme of over-populated and largely polluted Earth, with the “North American Commonwealth” (the NAC, a substitute for the countries that actually belong to the Alena treaty: Canada, the United States and Mexico) alone packing a population of three million and the whole planet an (implausible?) thirty billion. The population is divided between those that have jobs and earn a living for themselves and the “welfare rats” living in crime-ridden and crumbling welfare tenements and receiving two thousand calories of tasteless processed food a day. Our hero, one Andrew Grayson, is one of these second-class citizens and comes from one of these depressed neighbourhoods in Boston. His only way out, since winning win the lottery by drawing a ticket for a colony ship settling off-world is a pipedream, is to join the armed forces, and its supposed privileges.

This where the theme of the brave, loyal and dutiful “grunts” and their NCOs, all of which are let down by their mostly scheming and/or incompetent officers, except, of course, those which have risen from the ranks. They are the “silent heroes” who get handed hopeless jobs and, at best, token rewards for having accomplished them against all odds or used as scapegoats by “pencil-pusher” officers when something goes wrong and there is “bad PR” as a result.

You also have the theme of the space colonies on painstakingly terraformed planets. Here again, the interpretation is a rather grim one. It costs a fortune and takes decades to make each planet habitable. It also costs a fortune to transport people in space and populate the planets and cryogenisation does not seem to be on the cards in this series. The point here is that, far from alleviating Earth’s over-population issue, the colonies are one of the major drains on the resources of the major powers, and on the NAC’s in particular.

A fourth theme is that of human pan-continental states waging a kind of “tepid war”, neither really “cold”, because they go up against each other and attack each other’s space colonies, nor “hot” because the conflict does not erupt into full blown (nuclear) war on Earth. The conflict has been opposing the NAC and the Sino-Russian Alliance for the last half century, and it is a second source of government spending expenses, with the welfare spending being the third.

A fifth theme is the arrival of unknown, near invincible and all-conquering aliens also looking for new “real estate”. Apart from their appearance, which is deliberately at odds with their advanced technologies but which I will refrain from describing in order to avoid spoilers, they are deliberately shown as inhuman. They are neither “nasty” nor “nice” aliens. They just come in huge seed ships and take over the new colonies one by one, filling them up with carbon dioxide, destroying the human settlers directly if they resist and making the planets simply inhabitable to mankind.

The main value of this book for me was that the story was entertaining, exciting and easy to read, even if quite predictable. The “military action” is rather good, even if the characterisation does include a number of stereotypes (the “no messing” Sergeant Fallon, in particular). As long as you do not start probing too much and wondering to what extent any of it could really happen in a century or so (the action takes place from 2108 onwards), you will spend a few pleasant hours, or at least I hope you will. I did and this is my reason for rating this book four perhaps generous stars.
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on 1 October 2014
I read this in short order as I wanted to see the ending. It is not a very sophisticated narrative style, but very engaging none-the-less. It tells of a poor, slum dwelling kid, who joins the military to get a decent life and hopefully get off planet. Initially he gets put into the earth bound army and excels in combat duties before being transferred to the space faring Navy.
The characters are reasonable and I liked the descriptions of the army actions. They have the feel of Iraqi-type urban fire-fights we've heard about and I guess that is what the author has based those sections on. The soldiers kit is futuristic but not overly so and the tactics seemed realistic. As do the inevitable failings in the urban operations. However, I couldn't help wondering about some obvious methods overlooked, especially regarding air cover that seemed not available in the earth operation but was readily deployed on the colony planet.
I also had a bit of problem with the aliens as described on the colony. Spacefaring and able to terra-form (not really terra, I suppose) a planet, they seemed to act like a herd of elephants. However, the story stops before we know for sure that these creatures are the technological beings responsible or whether they are just there as part of the terra-forming process carried out by another species. Book 2 will hopefully clear that one up.
And on that note I'm off to start book 2......................
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on 12 April 2017
I had no idea how big this book was until I started reading it. There is a lot of material here, far more than the paltry price on Kindle would suggest, and it's worth more than twice that.

Trying to escape a fate of living in a hellhole on earth, one of ten billion lost souls with nothing better to do than watch TV and collect government handouts, Andrew Grayson decides to join the navy. Unfortunately, he gets assigned to a less-than-salubrious mission: as a member of the army assigned to keep the self-same hellholes that he was living in, under a tight thumb. Things don't work out as planned, and he goofs big time, earning him a discharge into a different service, which is where things start to get really interesting.

I absolutely loved this book, and after reading it instantly bought the whole of the rest of the series that was available. Nothing in the book comes across as a coincidence, and the author doesn't use deus ex machinas to solve crises, nor does he visit a constant stream of woes upon them, to seem like the ordeal of Sisyphus. The whole storyline plays out very naturally, and nothing feels 'forced' in any way. I was extremely impressed by the accuracy and the pacing of the military action parts of the book itself.

Although some of the settings may seem a little derivative, when everything is put together, this is a truly unique journey. It tells the rise, fall and rise of the protagonist, and shows it through the lens of an unfolding sequence of events that eventually leads to the disastrous discovery of an alien menace which is wonderful in the lack of actual information which is given about them in the book. They remain mysterious and inscrutable, which is perfect for a malignant enemy.

The characters are all very well crafted, and each has a flaw, or a strength which gives them a roundness that makes them interesting to read about. The book starts off right at the beginning, with the cadets going through basic recruitment, and follows them as they find themselves tossed around as military and political pawns, until they come face to face with the new threat.

I loved this book, and it's a brilliant start to a new series!
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on 3 March 2015
I am a very long term fan of science fiction but rarely enjoy the military S.F. stories. So, despite good reviews, I was not expecting much when I purchased Terms of Enlistment and added the audio version also for a few extra pennies.
The action blew me away.
The book is well written as a first person narrative and the reader is carried through the fears and excitements as our main protagonist joins the military as a desperate measure to escape the terrible tenements in which he lives and from which he can see no other means of ever leaving. We follow his training and first experiences of military action, culminating in a traumatic space encounter, and we meet his friends, some of whom will continue to play a part in his future life.
The descriptions are detailed but never boring. The tension is constant and ever building. The encounters are often surprising, always terrifying. Once I started to read I was unable to break out to return to my mundane, everyday world. So I was delighted to be able to stay with the story by listening to the excellent narration on the accompanying audio book. It even added to my enjoyment as the voice so perfectly fitted with the main character and his reflections and actions.
Buy the book. Buy the accompanying audio download. Sit back and be taken on a fast track journey of excitement from the comfort and safety of your armchair.
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on 19 April 2017
I'm now finishing up the third book in this series and I'm really enjoying them so far. So the writing isn't stellar and there are a few inconsistencies but the characters are well sketched and, on the whole, believable. I think one of the traps that new authors often fall into is writing about a character who becomes a sort of superman and thus more-or-less invincible. I like the hero, Andrew Grayson, because he's just an ordinary guy in extraordinary circumstances, very far from invincible and who also makes mistakes. The only thing that doesn't really ring true is the military paper-pushers being such utter numpties but since Marko has been in the military himself I'm guessing he writes from personal experience.
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on 27 April 2017
good storyline
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on 15 March 2017
Enjoyed this book very much, the story flowed well and as an ex soldier I emphasized with the characters. We are now well set for the continuing saga. On to book 2.
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on 30 September 2014
I found this novel absolutely awesome ,well done Mr.Kloos ,it had me page turning well into the night. I like the way you write and will be downloading the next novel of frontlines asap.
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on 9 March 2017
Good read
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on 19 March 2017
Maintained my interest right through with taut plots.
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