Sten (Book 1) by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch [Book Review]

Reading and reviewing Battlecry: Sten Omnibus 1 – part 1: Sten

From Vulcan and Back Again

This is my first contact with Sten, his universe and the authors that created him. Sten has been recommended in comments to My Top Military Science Fiction Series posts so I had pretty high expectations going in.

Young Karl Sten witnesses his parents being killed in an industrial cover up, they where indentured workers or debt slaves to the company that runs the heavy Industrial planet Vulcan.  He rebels and has to run away and joins the youth gangs, that literary live in the crack of the system. Vulcan is a high-g world with poisonous atmosphere so the only place humans can survive is in the metal world of the company.

That part of the story is much of a coming of age story which is something I am rather fond of. The authors use it to establish Sten’s background. He is a survivor, a thinking smart survivor with a bone to pick with the company and the man responsible for his family’s death.

One night Sten saves a man from the guards and that is going to change his life forever. Without spoiling too much I can say that he takes him under his wings and bring him off planet and into the military and eventually back again.

The pacing is good and the action scenes vivid. The social structures and the characters are rather simple in comparison, some of it can be explained by the social settings on a slave labor planet and the military but I expected more. It doesn’t ruin the book for me, far from it but don’t read this expecting deep characters. This is simple entertaining action and the best parts are the battles and the suspense that builds before them.

I liked Sten. It didn’t exactly rock my world but if you take it for what it is it a fun read. It is also the first book in a concluded series, Sten Chronicles consist of eight novels and I have read three of them so far. This omnibus from Orbit is a great introduction with the first three novels I can recommend if you take it for what it is and can live with plain entertaining military space opera.

Book information

Battlecry: Sten Omnibus 1 (Sten, The Wolf Worlds, The Court of a Thousand Suns) by Cris Bunch & Allan Cole (Orbit 2010) – I bought this copy on Amazon UK

Vulcan is a factory planet: centuries old, Company run, ugly as sin and unfeeling as death. Vulcan breeds just two types of native – complacent or tough. Sten is tough.

When his family is killed in a mysterious accident, Sten rebels, harassing the Company from the metal world’s endless maze-like warrens. It’s a fool’s errand, of course – no man can stand against the might of the Company and expect to live. But Sten isn’t just any man.

From the corrupt and brutal factories of Vulcan to the plots and intrigues of the Imperial Court, the galaxy is about to come face to face with the ultimate warrior. Sten’s already learned how to survive – now he wants more; he wants control of his own destiny. And he’ll do whatever it takes to get it.

No compromise, no retreat, no surrender. Only Sten.