Review: Behind the Lines by Chris Fox (Ganog Wars Book 1)

Behind the Lines CoverBehind the Lines is the first book in a sequel trilogy to indie military science fiction author Chris Fox’s Void Wraith trilogy. In this book, the new Coalition of the three races featured in the Void Wraith trilogy attempt to find the rest of the Gorthians (the main enemy of the previous trilogy). In doing so, Nolan and his crew stumble upon a new hostile race, and become stranded on one of their planets. The book details their attempt to survive and escape.

I was hesitant to pick this book up, because I had greatly enjoyed the first book of Chris Fox’s previous trilogy (review here), but hadn’t enjoyed the other two books (review here). It was impossible to know where this book would fall between those extremes, so I hesitated; in the end, it was the curiosity to know where this book lay between those two extremes that made me pick this book up.

In terms of the writing and the characterisations found in this book, Behind the Lines matches well with Destroyer. That is to say, the writing is serviceable, never calling attention to itself (neither because of its quality nor lack thereof) and away from the plot of the book. Moreover, the short chapters in Behind the Lines did not induce the disjointedness that I felt with Void Wraith and Eradication; undoubtedly because Behind the Lines is once more a rather narrow story (ie, few POV characters and no large jumps forward in time) like Destroyer, and unlike Void Wraith and Eradication.

The characters in Behind the Lines are equally serviceable. There are no complex characters to be found here, but the characters do have clear and distinct personalities that remain consistent throughout the novel. Like I said in my review of Destroyer, I find this to be sufficient in such a plot-driven book as this one.

In terms of this novel’s plot and action, however, Behind the Lines is completely different from both Destroyer and its two sequels. All three of those books featured moments of spectacle in their action set pieces. Here, the amount of spectacle used has been cranked up to the point of ridiculous. This is particularly true of the final moments of climax in the book. At multiple points during this climax, I had to pause to laugh out loud at what was happening. While not as bad as the frustration I felt with Void Wraith and Eradication, I did find this highly immersion-breaking, and not something I look for in the books I read.

So, would I recommend this book to others? If you enjoyed Chris Fox’s Destroyer, and think yourself the sort of person who enjoys over-the-top spectacle (I realise that my own reaction to it is a subjective one), then I think you would like this book because of its sound writing and characterisations. In all other cases (if you either did not enjoy Destroyer, or have not read Chris Fox before), I cannot recommend this book. If you have not read Chris Fox before, I suggest you read Destroyer to see Chris Fox at his best to see whether you might enjoy his other books. Personally, I doubt I will continue reading this series.

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