Aristeia: Tree of Liberty by Wayne Basta
The Tsundoku Scale: Middle of the Pile, 5 out of 10.
The Good: Tree of Liberty is a well-constructed war story. It has its moment of heroism and brashness, mostly found in the General Zeric, and it embraces the hard, grey choices of war that skew a black and white perception of good and evil. As the entire book is basically a battle and/or battle tactics, it does a good job leaving time for perception and indecision among its characters amidst the action. It gives you a truer kind of war story that leaning on realism, and stripping war of some of its over hyped fantastical idealism. I enjoyed the moments of wry humor in the story from Lochja and Maarkean’s banter while in prison, to the insufferable heat at the Dotran conference.
The Bad: As a disclaimer, I’ve never read the other two books of Aristeia and so I may have missed more story than I realized. It is certainly a compliment to that book that I was able to enjoy it without knowing two full stories worth of background. Nevertheless, if anything, the book’s problem is that it is exceedingly average in its approach. Similar to its own prose, the book’s story spares no time on extraneous details, and yet does not take the other approach of drastically cutting detail and remains right in the middle. The book is like a good soldier in war—a person well worth emulating, but not a person particularly interesting to write about compared to a more extreme, unusual soldier. What’s more, the more unique details, such as the different aliens, were never really emphasized and only mentioned in passing, which made those details feel somewhat forced.
*Please note that this is an honest review and that I received an ARC copy to write it.