Gust Front
by John Ringo

Hardcover - 608 pages (April 3, 2001)
Baen Books; ISBN: 0671319760
Review by Dave Goldfeder

Check out this book at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Jim Baen has always had an eye for talent and a desire to take a chance. Seven months ago, Jim took a chance on John Ringo, an ex GI computer geek, purchasing his first book, A Hymn Before Battle and putting it out in hardcover. This was such a poor risk that the sequel, Gust Front, comes out this month.

Warning: if you didn't like Hymn, stop reading now. If you did like Hymn, Ringo has given us more of the same and better.

When last we left the story, Our Hero, Lt. Michael O'Neill, had single
handedly defeated the evil Posleen at the battle of Diess by dropping a
mega-scraper on their army and blowing up their ship with an anti-matter
limpet mine. The remnants of the Barwhon scout team had been evacuated, and
Earth was readying for the Posleen invasion. As Gust Front opens, two years
have passed. Battles rage on Barwhon, Diess has been pacified, and war
preparations continue on Earth.

Mike O'Neill earned the Medal of Honor Diess. After spending a year on a
bond tour, he was promoted to captain and given command of Bravo Company
First Battalion Five-Fifty-Fifth Fleet Mobile Infantry. He's fighting
desperately to get his company ready for battle over the opposition of his
commanding officer. The arrival of a new CO, a rejuvenated Vietnam vet,
changes this. The CO's an experienced officer. Knowing nothing about the
new tech, he's grateful for Mike's expertise.

Combat is the O'Neil family business. Mike's wife, Sharon, is executive
officer of a Fleet Corvette. She has to get an old, worn out ship ready to
perform a mission it was never designed for; combat. Mike's dad is a
Vietnam vet who was a little too good at what he did and was dishonorably
discharged. After the war he went to work for the CIA doing things he
doesn't talk about. He gave that up long ago to return to the family farm
but Sharon O'Neill has put her daughter, Cally, in his charge. He's going
to keep his granddaughter alive and teach her what she needs to survive;
marksmanship, explosives, booby traps. Whatever it takes.

Preparations are finally going smoothly and look like hey will be completed
on schedule. There's only one problem. The Posleen aren't following the
schedule. Their early arrival throws everything into confusion. For the
first time since the Civil War, there's combat on American soil. It's not
the first war for the cities involved. The initial targets are
Fredericksburg, Richmond, and Washington. If the concept of a pitched
battle on the Mall doesn't interest you, read elsewhere.

Gust Front follows the basic format laid out in Hymn, four principal plots
and a few sub-plots. Mike O'Neill is again our principal hero. His wife,
Sharon, his father and his daughter, anchor others. Sergeant Jake Mossovich
and General Taylor are back in strong supporting roles. John Ringo takes a
page from Lois Bujold's school of storytelling. He figures the worst
possible thing that can happen to his characters and does it. He's created
an interesting universe. There's a lot going behind the scenes. We can't
see it but we know it's there. Our allies are not our friends and we are
more like our enemies then we care to admit.