“The Mortalis”

Rating:

4 Small Stars
The Mortalis

This should have been titled, “The Life and Times of the Former Lieutenant Colonel Marion Stefanova”, but that’s a little too long. Still, the book is really about this single character who isn’t, in my opinion, very smart or very military. I don’t know if the author has been in the military or not, but it appears to be the latter. The rank of Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) isn’t achieved overnight. You have to earn most ranks and to get to LTC, you have go through the ranks of Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Captain, and Major, and then if you are still around, you might get promoted to LTC. Now, obviously I don’t know how the military in this book works since the people here live almost indefinitely, but it can take upwards of 15 to 20 years to make LTC and that’s provided you get promoted every single time your due a promotion. Usually one mistake and it could be the end of your career.

So, why do I bring this up? Well, LTC Stefanova is in command of a Black Knights Battalion which is heading for the stars. She and her battalion will provide security for the new colonist once they reach their new world. They get there after a very long trip and she sets about doing what she has to do to get the new colony secured. Then she’s invited to a meeting between the colony President, the Mayor, the local Chief of Police, her Executive Officer (a Major), and the colony Preacher. They have decided that some of the things she was doing, should have been discussed by the colony leadership before they were done. So, they have decided, behind her back, that they like the Major better and have arranged with the Headquarters back home to have her relieved. Additionally, the Major is promoted to LTC and they make him the Battalion Commander. Now, I don’t know what kind of military this is, but this kind of stuff isn’t done unless you have really, really, really just cause to do so. They didn’t and don’t, but HQ bought in to what they told them and now she has new orders. She’s to remain where she is, but is now demoted to Captain, with the new LTC (her former Executive Officer) now her boss!

And what does she do? She just acts like its not a big deal and that she has other more important things to do! How stupid! It wouldn’t happen this way, never, ever in a million years. Here you are on a new planet in a different star system, you’re just about the most senior ranking military present, the base commander, the battalion commander and you let a bunch of pompous civilians get you demoted while your smirking Executive Office gets promoted in your place. Realistically, you would have told them to stuff their demotion and talked directly to HQ to find out what’s going on, hopefully with someone who had your back in the HQ. Secondly, you would have told them to get you transferred out of there as fas as possible to another command, another unit or back to HQ staff until you decide to retire. And your third option, would have been to just shoot everyone in the meeting, tell the colony to elect a new President, and Mayor and to get over this little difference of opinion. You’d also have to find a worthwhile new Executive Officer since you shot him too! I think the latter solution is probably the best under these circumstances.

The rest of the book is about what Marion, as she’s now called, does after she’s been demoted and told to go do whatever. She just accepts the new order of things and goes off and does her duty, which is pretty boring if you ask me. A love story evolves between her and a President of another colony found on one of the moons of the new planet. Her colony gets attacked by some other aliens, but they manage to run them off. The whole book is written kind of strange in that Marion does this, and then Marion does that. None of the other characters are described or give much background. They keep talking about her “commission” being taken away, which is another reason I don’t think the author has ever been in the military. A commissioned officer doesn’t loose their commission just because they were demoted. These kind of things in the book really irritated me. If you’re going to write a military science fiction book, either do it with some resemblance to our existing military structure or take the time to explain how and why your new “alien” military structure exists and operates.

Oh, and the thing about “The Mortalis”. It’s barely explained in the book and doesn’t have a real significance to anything. Marion is just over 300 years old, but there are a couple of Privates in the battalion (and probably others) who are over 100 years old and nothing really is made of it. They all appear to be in their 20’s or 30’s. It’s mentioned that they get this longevity by eating some kind of plant, but nothing much more is ever explained. And a long life doesn’t seem very germane to this story, either so I’m not sure why it even comes up.

There appears to be another book in this series already on Amazon, but I for one will not read it immediately. I just find this main character a little too spineless for my taste.