DEATH’S HEAD by David Gunn


Maximum Offense
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Further adventures—bloody warfare, loyalty tests, ethical dilemmas, the plight of innocent civilians—of ex-foreign legionary sergeant Sven Tveskoeg.

Sven, now a decorated, elite Death's Head brigade lieutenant with his own squad, the Aux, receives new orders from his boss, General Indigo Jaxx: Emperor OctoV has seconded him to assist Paper Osamu, ambassador of the snobbish, highly advanced U/Free. In the blink of an eye, Sven and company are struggling to survive on a bleak, frigid chunk of rock, having been sabotaged before they could land, then assaulted by insensate savages. Naturally, when Sven finds the mission is nothing more than an elaborate test—one of his troopers lies dead—he kills the U/Free responsible. (Death, though, for the U/Free isn't permanent.) At last the real mission begins: Sven's group must recover a missing U/Free observer on a “deserted” ringworld—deserted, this is, except for enemy cyborg Enlightened, select troops and numerous hostile, savage or just plain terrified human survivors. Complicating matters, Sven must babysit and take orders from a teenaged colonel…Jaxx's son. Worse, the Aux find themselves fighting not only the Enlightened and the savages but an entire regiment of Death's Head deserters.

In the sardonically amusing first half, Sven's snarky smart gun, the SIG-37, provides plenty of verbal firepower; the second half, much darker and more ethically challenging, presents ugly truths that no Death's Head fan will want to miss.

Pub Date: April 29th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-345-50001-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2008