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Book Review:- Blood Red Sand (Damien Larkin)

Paperback 4.5*

Arc 4*

An entertaining and pacy read and like the previous book 'Big Red', ideal for fans of Iron Sky. The story works twin threads:- The initial invasion of Mars - with a plotline of more than a nod to Saving Private Ryan and a Bridge too Far - with a new bunch of international rapscallions under McCabe fighting for their lives in a strange land. And the original gang of Daz's thugs sticking their noses into Marscorps origin story.

Needless to say, nothing goes to plan as the (mainly) men fight for their lives with a desperate need to succeed. It is easy to attach similarities to war films, and an interesting take on having WW2 veterans fight off planet. Hints of Fury, Stalingrad and Downfall flit around through the periphery of the storyline, filling in the blanks and hidden past to human technological advances and the backstory to Mars.

If anything, the early version I read slightly undersold itself in infantry fighting a new enemy with armour and nowhere to run. While the desperate band dig their way from defeat in a brutal, layered story of betrayal and survival it could do with a extra hint of terror to nail the terror and claustrophobia. The paperback makes the panzer threat tighter, but as shown at Falais vulnerable to the air, with Brant seeming a nod to Robert Shaw in BotB.

Given world events and the last few years in Weimar-seeming England, a bit of Nazi bashing is no bad thing, and well worth the read. The only thing stopping a solid 5* was for me the weapon terminology could have been dialled back later on to keep up with the rush, and every so often a term jarred with me.

I'm looking forward to seeing where the story travels next, as some of the backstory is still hidden within the fog of war, in particular where and when Earth and Mars begin this conflict with the western powers before and during WW2. The opportunity wasn't taken here, and anyone familiar with a FPS will feel immediately at home on the battlefield as this book graps you by the backpack and throws you into it. In terms of worldbuilding, character and story, there is more to come and it should land on an eager audience.


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