A novel about an all-encompassing future world war from Ehrlich (The Seige of Khe Sanh 1967-68, 2012, etc.).
It’s the beginning of the 22nd century, and Gen. Scheubner-Richter finds himself involved in a war between East and West that has raged for nearly 80 years. With the face of Earth nearly unrecognizable after the last world war (WWIII, which lasted from 2017 to 2023 and resulted in a variety of consequences, including the fall of most countries and a nuclear-scarred landscape), Scheubner-Richter’s world is one of violence, desperation and shifting alliances. As a high-ranking member of the Western Army, Scheubner-Richter knows that the greatest dangers do not necessarily come from its main opponent in the East. Though the East is hated for its people’s non-Christian ways and goals of world domination, the West is rife with internal conflicts, such as the simmering plots to overthrow the Western political and religious leader, the Vice Cardinal. Attempting to navigate this world of highly trained assassins, vicious cartels, genetically mutated animals and Raiders (“basically the uncontrolled and uncommitted segment of the population of each continent”), Scheubner-Richter must use his training to defeat enemies both within and without. Juxtaposed with frequent allusions to history both real and imagined (such as the First Crusade and World War III), the main conflict gains a level of military authenticity by borrowing from age-old strategies. At 700-some pages though, over-explanation tends to run rampant; characters wordily state the obvious (two young women swear to keep their fledgling love affair a secret—“Let us then draw a pact together that we shall keep our special friendship hidden and subtly disguised so that it may go unnoticed before those that may wish to ridicule or destroy it”). Such dialogue fails to generate as much sympathy as the worldwide conflict all the characters endure.
A believable futuristic vision of endless war muddled by undeveloped characters.