Those of you who have been readers for any length of time know I’m a big fan of Mike Williamson’s work. It’s not because we’ve been friends for more than 15 years, or because I loved “Freehold” before it was ever published – I loved the concept, the universe, and the characters well enough to be a fan before being a fan was “cool.”
For a while, I had this license plate – before the van it was attached to was totaled on black ice in the winter of 2004. Mike recently sent me a photo of it. I never had any.
I think what Mike does better than most authors is character development. He has this innate ability to become the character – to crawl into their skin and speak in their voice, regardless of whether male or female. It’s something I appreciate, and it’s something I’m learning to do myself as I develop my writing skills. Mike does it effortlessly. His work doesn’t feel like an author writing in first person, or from the perspective of the character. It feels like you’re inside the character looking out, whether it’s a female facing a complete change of life, perspective, and environment, or an arrogant, testosterone-filled young guy, developing from an snotty, conceited kid into a lethal weapon, into a cold, calculating defender and patriot, into a father, into an old soul with a conscience. He does it effectively – almost as if tossing aside who he is and becoming who they are.
His latest “Angeleyes” is no exception. It will be available in hardcover on November 1. I wanted to get this review out before that time, so if you were trying to decide whether to purchase this book, you could make a somewhat informed decision. The blurb is pretty straightforward.
Angie Kaneshiro never planned to be a spy. She was a veteran of the Freehold Forces of Grainne, and was now a tramp freighter crew-woman who hadn’t set foot on the dirt of a world in ten years. Angie was free, and that was the way she liked it.
Then the war with Earth started. One thing Angie knew was human space. She knew where the UN troops garrisoned, the methods they used to scan and chip their own to control them. Even better, she had a mental map of the access conduits, the dive bars, and the make-out cubbies people used to get around restrictions.
The UN forces may hold most of the stations, the docks, and the jump points, but now the Freehold of Grainne has its own lethal weapon. The Intelligence branch sends a freighter crewed with Blazers, special forces troops. All Angie has to do is lead them through the holes. Responsibility for the explosions and wreckage will be theirs. But war is complicated, and even the most unwilling of heroes can be forged in its crucible.
I will not reveal a whole lot more plot than that, but I will say that “Angeleyes” is much more than what is written here.
Yes, it’s told from Angie’s perspective, but this book is not about Angie per se. Yes, she develops as a character and as a person from a selfish tramp to a true citizen of Grainne who is willing to sacrifice it all for the ideals on which the nation has been founded, and from someone who spent a whole lot of time ensuring she was never close to anyone to someone who found family in the unlikeliest of scenarios.
Yes, it’s Angie’s story and her development as a person. But it’s also a close examination of heroism, sacrifice, patriotism, rules of engagement in war, the warrior ethos, and the mentality that is necessary to protect the ideals you truly hold dear.
It’s a look – from one character’s perspective – at those who are willing to sacrifice everything for those ideals.
I’ve often asked what you would do in a zombie apocalypse – how far you would go to protect yourself and your loved ones?
“Angeleyes” examines those ideas through a wider aperture.
How far would you go to protect real freedom, your way of life, and your home? What would you sacrifice for your team, your military family?
Most of us would reply that we would sacrifice everything for our country – especially those of us who volunteered to serve in the armed forces – but can you really imagine what that could involve?
“Angeleyes” explores those ideas in very detailed, painful, personal ways, and aside from the action and the fascinating examination of the Freehold war from yet another perspective – one we haven’t yet seen – it’s those ideas that touched me most as an immigrant and an Armed Forces veteran.