Saturday, 13 July 2013

Book Review: Opening Moves (Red Gambit Series Book 1)

I finished reading this novel earlier today and I have to say this is one of the best Alternative History I've read - I was hooked from page 1. It has a well written and researched plot complete with a large cast of believable characters (though admittedly some don't last very long once the shells start landing!). It isn't a short book (some 800 pages) but is well worth reading.

The book is written around a fictional Soviet attack on her former Western Allies in August 1945 and follows the actions of various officers and the men under their command. These characters come from a wide range of Nations and backgrounds which are further supported by an accompanying biography that is available as a separate book (which I've not had chance to read yet as I didn't want to accidentally learn something that would spoil the narrative for me).

I'm sure that there will be people out there who will disagree with the authors representations of the various weapons and tactics. However I didn't come across anything that I would strongly disagree with or thought implausible. The descriptions of combat were in line with descriptions the various personal and unit histories that I have read over the years - in short they are very realistic, bloody and brutal so definitely not for the faint hearted!

The author doesn't skirt away from the atrocities of war so be warned that this book does contain such things. Although this sort of thing isn't what we would necessarily want to read about it is unfortunately a feature of war throughout the ages and shouldn't be glossed over or forgotten.

The book in its self is broken in to multiple time line based sections and you do jump about from place to place but this doesn't affect the flow of the narrative. It also allows the author to give you different viewpoints of the same event without having to recap on what's happened or break the flow of the narrative.

Also included at the appropriate points in the narrative are plenty of maps detailing the events in the text, unfortunately with the Kindle version these maps aren't brilliant once you zoom in but are still understandable. I believe that versions of these maps are available from the authors website.

From a wargamers point of view there are a considerable amount of detailed scenarios that could be easily extracted from the text. As most of the weapons used are those available to late war armies, assembling forces suitable for recreating the events of the book wouldn't be difficult at all. There are one or two weapons that appear that didn't see service but they can easily be converted or already exist as models in various scales (e.g. IS-3 tanks). As I understand it more of this type of equipment appears in the later parts of the series which may possibly make recreating scenarios from the later books more of a challenge.

I would thoroughly recommend this book and I look forward to reading the next 5 books (of which 2 (Breakthrough and Stalemate) have already been published).

Full Title: Opening Moves - The first book in the Red Gambit Series: 1
Author: Colin Gee
Paperback: 802 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (31 Dec 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1468145134
ISBN-13: 978-1468145137
Price: £13.99 ("real" book) or £3.38 (Kindle)

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  1. Thank you for your kind words. Whilst I am a wargamer, I have not set out to create a wargame scenario type book, neither have I gamed any of the scenarios. My wish was to create a work about war without glorifying it, and to present the premise that there are no bad peoples, just some bad people. The maps issue haunts me but, as you say, all graphics are available for free download on the website. Book 4 will be out before Christmas, and I hope you also enjoy that. Thanks again for your review.

    1. Hi Colin,

      Thank you for your comments. I think you have succeeded in creating a work that does avoid glorifying war and I look forward to the next instalment.