The Cobra Trilogy
by Timothy Zahn
Cover Artist: Kurt Miller
Review by Andrew Brooks
Baen Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781439133187
Date: 03 November 2009 List Price $12.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The super soldier. There have been tons of books and movies that revolve around a soldier, or group of soldiers, that are the best of the best. Universal Soldier, the Halo franchise, even the Star Wars universe has its own super soldier in the clone troopers. There's something that fascinates those of us drawn to this type of tale, of the warrior of all warriors, and while Timothy Zahn's Cobra Trilogy delivers somewhat it is a mixed bag.
It's the twenty fifth century and the galaxy is in upheaval. Troft forces are sweeping through human space with ease, gobbling up colony worlds and leaving humanity increasingly worried that their technology is far superior. Thus the creation of the Cobras - humans with augmentations that turn them into one man armies that can kick some serious tail. Jonny Moreau is one of the men selected to become a Cobra, and the first book in this cobra trilogy reads like a series of vignettes of his experience in both becoming a Cobra and fighting the Troft threat. It's the usual fare for this type of book. Soldier joins elite group, goes through the process of being transformed into a super soldier and then is let loose on alien forces with mixed results. Zahn handles it well, incorporating believable characters and technology into his far future world. It's exactly the type of novel fans of military fantasy will recognize and feel right at home with. It feels a bit disjointed at times, jumping around as it does, but the first book in this trilogy is solid if a bit predictable.
The second in the trilogy, Cobra Strike, follows the Moreau family after the Cobra war with the Troft as Jonny's son Justin joins the Cobras just in time to fight a brand new alien threat that is set against both human and Troft space. This one has a bit of a different feel from the first in the trilogy, but it's still worth reading. There are more political elements, so don't go in expecting to read solely about battles and the experiences of super soldiers. It's a good blend of both, and this one reads like a novel instead of the pieced together first book. Justin is mostly indistinguishable from his Cobra father, but there was still a lot to like in this one. Solid action, more great technology.
The third installment in the Cobra trilogy is Cobra Bargain, which further deals with the Moreau family and their role with the Cobras. Governor Corwin Moreau's niece, Jasmine, is attempting to become the first female Cobra in this one. I thought it a little odd that no women were serving in this elite force and wondered at why Zahn wrote the group as male only, so it was nice to see the feminine side in this one. But honestly, at this point the Cobra universe had grown a bit stale for me. Don't get me wrong, Zahn writes a brisk and lively military adventure, but at times the dialogue is very wooden and the characters move through the plot simply to be moving. Of the three this was my least favorite, although it was still a serviceable read.
Timothy Zahn's Cobra Trilogy is feeling its age, as the abundance of military science fiction these days offers better fare for those jonesing for their super warrior fix. It's not bad, but there's nothing new here for those who've read it all already. If you've blazed through them all, though, you might pick this one up. It's a solid, if slightly flawed, effort.