Review: The Ember War by Richard Fox

March 27, 2017
Book by:
Richard Fox

Reviewed by:
On March 27, 2017
Last modified:March 30, 2017


An authentic sounding sci-fi military romp. It's the familiar humans versus aliens scenario with a heady jingoistic beat. If this is your genre you'll love it. It's a sufficiently non-offensive, well-paced precursor to the rest of the series and will keep you turning those pages, that's for sure.

The Earth is doomed. Humanity has a chance.

The basic premise of this is that an alien probe lands on Earth and befriends a local boy. This boy, Marc Ibarra, then becomes the Elon Musk/Bill Gates of his time with inventions gained from his knowledge of the probe affording him enough money and invention collateral to fund and implement the probes plan to save Earth from a deadly armada. Bad Things happen resulting in only some humans being saved and the story continues from there in an epic military survival quest.

Sixty years is too short

As mentioned, Marc Ibarra gains knowledge from the probe and provides a whole host of inventions that benefit mankind. This is really tantalising stuff and the interplay between Marc and the probe shows some genuine promise. Unfortunately we are whisked past all of this in Chapter Two jumping sixty years to a point where we get introduced to some new main characters. Later in Chapter Three we meet Marc again but he’s become a very disagreeable character. Maybe I’m just being a little harsh here but I felt as a reader that I’d been started on a journey and then told to go somewhere else and there’s little rhyme or reason connecting the apparent changes in character. Further references within the book indicate the success of these inventions though and there’s a hint that Marc’s irritability is due to his guilt at relying on the probe for his breakthroughs.

Game over, man. Game over.

Jumping ahead once again and within the realms of military prose you can tell that the author is more comfortable. Infantry battle scenes are full of action but sometimes feel a little flat to me. I have spoken to others and some seem to like them so maybe I’m in the wrong. Dialogue is quite witty and the terminology used, to a layman like myself without U.S. military experience, seems authentic enough. Space battle action scenes are fairly detailed and that part of the story progresses at a very quick albeit perfunctory pace. What is missing is some depth to some of the characters giving you the nagging impression that the book itself is lacking overall depth. On saying that, the characters that do matter have just enough development to keep some of that interest alive.

It’s the beginning

We start to get some answers later in the book but I feel we don’t get a satisfying amount by any means. I know I’m sounding harsh and to be fair it’s an entertaining enough book, it’s just a little too generic for me and a little heavy on the jingoism. Only you can decide if this book gives you a sufficient enough hook to make you want to buy the rest of the saga.

You can buy The Ember War from Amazon by following this link.

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