Unbreakable (Chronicles of Promise Paen)
by W.C. Bauers
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Mel Jacob
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765375421
Date: 13 January 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
A new heroine in a new war using many tropes from the established science fiction literature fights a war against overwhelming odds on a Rim world in Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers. On the border between the Republic of Aligned Worlds and the Lusitanian Empire, Montana is ripe for a takeover. Largely ignored by RAW, the Montanans have had to fend by themselves. Given her first command, Lieutenant Promise T. Paen, a former citizen of Montana is sent there to keep the planet secure.
The novel begins with a pirate attack on the Gration homestead and the killing of Promise's father. She vows to destroy the pirates and see the RAW-Marine Corps as the means. Two things accompany Promise as she leaves Montana for training: her mother's Glock and her ghost.
She undergoes basic training and is tapped by an Admiral to go Montana to help win over the planet's loyalties. However, on the way, their shuttle craft is shot down by the Lusitanian pirates and the admiral is killed. Sergeant Promise survives planet fall in mechsuit and lands amid marauding pirates holding hostages. She kills the pirates and frees the hostages. She suffers injuries and is hospitalized as a hero. Other Victor Company marines soon arrive. Because of other casualties, Promise becomes the officer in charge.
The action is driven by the egos of the ambitious Lusitanian Commodore Samuelson to capture Montana and Promise's determination to keep it and her Marines safe. A sneak Lusitanian attack on the Rock, a mining community in an asteroid belt draws the battleship Absalon and the marines to a rescue effort. They discover two Lusitanian ships hiding nearby. The Absalon comes under fire and destroys one, but is left a broken wreck by the other.
Promise isn't ready to surrender and she works with the miners to enable the remains of the Absalon to ferry them back to Montana. She also learns the minors have a modified ship with a mini jump drive and sends that to alert RAW and ask for reinforcements.
The novel offers little new, but provides an exciting adventure nonetheless. For some reason, Bauer jumps from basic training to Montana and later provides a few sentences to indicate how Promise acquired other knowledge, which may confuse some readers. A second novel, Indomitable, will be released in July 2016.