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A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo

Published by Baen Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Mike O'Neal was a successful Web designer and aspiring science fiction writer in Atlanta, Georgia -- until the day his Airborne past came back to haunt him. Off he went to a super-secret meeting, where he learned that humanity had just been contacted by a federation of peaceful aliens. However, they were doing this not out of good-will, but desperation -- they had been struggling unsuccessfully for centuries with a race of rapacious aliens, and their only hope against these Posleen was humanity's warlike ability. However, they also feared the social consequences of interacting with humanity, and thus had delayed first contact until they had no other choice. Humanity is next in line for Posleen invasion, so it's use it or lose it for the Galactics.

However, nothing comes for free in the Galactic Federation. The only way to gain protection for humanity is to buy it, and the mysterious Darhel control all Galactic finance. O'Neal and his fellows are going to be designing the new weapons that the Galactics will be building.

Then it's off to an alien world under Posleen assault, where Mike O'Neal must lead a force of Mobile Infantry against seemingly hopeless odds. Under this strange alien sun O'Neal gets first-hand experience in just how nasty the Posleen are. But he also gets plenty of evidence that Galactic society is a pretty horrible place in its own way, comparable to some of the worst excesses of colonialism.

Meanwhile, things are not going well back home on Earth. As word leaks out of the imminent Posleen assault, panic begins. Discipline breaks down among the very people who are supposed to be training to defend humanity from the Posleen horde. Can an experienced but aging Marine gunnery sergeant weld these frightened and rebellious young men and women into a viable fighting force?

Review posted April 8, 2003

A Hymn Before Battle (Posleen War Series #1)