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Review of Skystorm by Steven Konkoly

The most recent book in Konkoly’s Ryan Decker series, the first three books of which are The Rescue, The Raid, and The Mountain, is Skystorm.

Similarly to the other novels, Skystorm focuses on the private war that Decker, his friend and lover Harcourt, their PI company, and Senator Steele are waging on a think tank and PMC company called The Institute.

Far from being the typical Beltway think tank, the APEX Institute has access to some of the most brutal and effective mercenary groups in the world, access it uses to hire men that can hunt down and silence its enemies.

In The Mountain, Decker and his friends run afoul of the mercenaries hired by the APEX Institute without knowing what the Institute is or why it would be engaging in highly illegal activities. It’s only toward the tail end of that novel that they find out what they’re up against.

But, in Skystorm, they’re fully cognizant of the enemy they face; they know ahead of time about its vast array of resources, deep coffers, and highly motivated private army. When Senator Steele accidentally provokes a renewal of hostilities between the two groups, Decker and his team are forced to take on the APEX Institute and its allies head on.

The storyline is reasonably good. It’s fast-paced, full of action, and the characters continue to develop. Furthermore, a central piece of the storyline, one I’ll have to avoid mentioning to avoid spoiling the plot, is based on one of Erik Prince’s more infamous projects.

That little detail, one which grounds it in reality and shows just how out of control the PMC business has gotten (from Konkoly’s perspective; I’m generally a fan of PMCs), significantly adds to the book. It helps the reader remember that while Konkoly’s stories might be fun, they’re about important, real-life issues. Love them or hate them, PMCs probably shouldn’t have the amount of power Konkoly depicts some of them as having. Imagining a world in which they go rogue and act against the interests of the US helps even more with putting their power in perspective.

All of that combines to make Skystorm a reasonably strong novel. Being exciting and rooted in reality, it’s fun to read without seeming like a total waste of time. I’d classify it as slightly-informative entertainment.

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The only real weakness is that it’s so similar to the rest of the series. What made The Rescue, The Raid, and The Mountain great is that they were about new topics. The bradva, mercenaries, drug smuggling, and much more were included in new and interesting ways, drawing the reader in and letting Konkoly tell a good story while also, indirectly, opining on some subject.

The problem with Skystorm is that it’s quite similar to those books. The previous three are about mercenaries. The APEX Institute has already been introduced. Except for a new group Senator Steele hires, pretty much all of the characters are the same as in The Mountain. The general threat facing Decker and way of combating it is so similar. That similarity isn’t enough to make it a bad novel, far from it, but it is enough to make it not as good as it would have been were it a standalone novel.

So, while I did enjoy reading Skystorm, Konkoly needs to change topics, at least slightly, for the next one in the series (if there is a next). That’ll keep readers interested while allowing him to use a great cast of characters to address yet another important topic.

In any case, if you want a fun series of novels to read, I highly recommend Konkoly’s Ryan Decker series. You’ll enjoy them.

By: Gen Z Conservative.