Better to Beg Forgiveness...
by Michael Z. Williamson
Review by Steve Sawicki
Baen Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781416591511
Date: 24 February 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This is another entry into the grunts know better than administrators genre of military SF. In this case Celadon, a poor nation on a poor planet is engaged in a civil war. The president of Celadon is trying to fix all the problems and has been given a group of mercenary bodyguards to protect him while he works his magic.
The President does not prove to be very pliable however and shortly afterward it is decided that a different President would be a better option so the contract for the mercenary bodyguards is canceled. They decide, since they know best, that the President is the one who should be protected and decide to stick around even though the odds are greatly stacked against them. Mayhem and chaos ensue as they have to fight their way from one place to another while lugging a non-combatant with them. On the other hand when everyone is against you trying to decide who to shoot becomes much easier.
This is a very fast paced novel and while the size seems a bit large for the plot, it all works to come together for an entertaining read, albeit you have to either fervently agree that the grunt on the ground always knows best of skim past those parts because they come fairly frequently. There is some interesting technology and there are enough tactics and strategy for most military sf fans. There's plenty of action as well in a number of different venues.
I find myself of two minds with this book as there were some things that I felt (see above) drew me out of the universe. On the other hand I liked the characters a great deal and, for the most part, found the dilemma the characters found themselves in and their solutions to their problems very entertaining. This is a fairly quick read, even for being a large book, and there's pretty much non-stop action from the first chapter to the last. Certainly if you like Williamson's previous work you will like this one. If you like Baen entries in general then you will like this one. The rest of you will have to find out for yourselves but if you like military SF set on the squad level then you'll probably like this too.