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Review of Into the Battle by James Rosone

The first book in James Rosone’s “Rise of the Republic” series, Into the Stars, was, I thought, absolutely fabulous. Like Heinlen’s Orphans of the Sky, it imparted an important message about space travel (if a good bit more subtly) and the conquest of the stars while remaining highly interested and a thrilling read. Into the Battle, the next in the series, is both better and worse at the same time; it magnifies both its predecessor’s strengths and weaknesses.

I’ll begin with the positive attributes. Into the Battle is, even more so than the first in the series, a book with some excellent action scenes. The battles envisioned by Rosone, terrifying and adrenaline-spiking events in which all manner of spacecraft assault each other with missiles carrying nuclear weapons, lasers, and futuristic railgun-type weapons while their infantry forces slug it out on the ground or in boarding parties on disabled vessels. There were many points when I couldn’t even think about putting my book down; I desperately wanted to know how the battle would end and which characters would manage to survive. As in his other series, Rosone does his action scenes well.

Additionally, as hard as it might be for those that read the first in the series to believe, his imagination only expanded for this sequel. Humanity, after desperately fending off a major attack, works to explore yet more of the galaxy and comes across a potential ally that shatters the reader’s notion of the nature of the in-novel galaxy. Humanity must decide whether it will unite to win the galactic conflict it has found itself in or it petty quarrels will keep it from winning. From the new species to the war they describe to the ships Rosone imagines Earth building in its darkest hours, each new plot point or world-building aspect of Into the Battle is fantastic and fills the reader with just as much a sense of space-focused awe as the best of science fiction novels.

But there are weaknesses that, at times, are hard to look past.

The main problem is the writing. At points, it’s just not good. The dialogue, although it gets better toward the end, is often sloppily written, nowhere near believable, uninteresting, cartoonish, or some combination of the above. Much the same is true of how Rosone describes the non-combat events; they’re bland, boring, or overly cartoonish at far too many points. Characters act simplistically, plot points aren’t adequately explained, events are far too predictable, etc. Much of what could be brilliant science fiction world-building is lost thanks to subpar writing.

The question then becomes if the Rise of the Republic series is worth sticking with. So, it is?

I’d say yes, but only for two reasons, and neither is that the good outweighs the bad in Into the Battle. It would be hard to say that it did.

The first is that I’ve read many of Rosone’s other novels and they’re superb. While hints of the simplistic writing in Into the Battle are in some of his prior works, they’re never more than a slight and rare annoyance. Based on those other novels, all excellent works of fiction, this one appears to be an anomaly that can be looked past.

The other reason is that, by the end of the novel, most of those mistakes were corrected. Perhaps he was “warming up” with the first two-thirds or so and didn’t edit thoroughly, perhaps he didn’t notice the shift, or something else, but the last chunk is significantly better than the rest. While the dialogue is a bit wooden, the other errors are hardly noticeable. That gives me hope that the next books in the series will be better than this one.

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By: Gen Z Conservative