I will attempt to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. I read this book years ago when I was working on Betrayal of Ideals. I got to read the first two books of this trilogy and really enjoyed them.
This books begins at the start of one of the biggest events in BattleTech history, the Exodus. Handling General Aleksandr Kerensky is treading on sacred ground. Loren Coleman as done it well, and Randall does a fantastic job of showing us the man in his later years.
This is not his story – it is the story of his boys, Nicholas and Andrey Kerensky. Two wacky kids who get into crazy antics….no, not at all. Andrey is young, impetuous, idealistic, and stunningly naïve. His older brother is not exactly cuddly. Nicholas is…well, dark and stunningly manipulative. Randall captures him perfectly as we see with the Prinz Eugen incident. Nicholas comes across as having such intense focus that it overshadows everything and everyone else in his life.
When I read the novel, it didn’t have a chapter on the finding of the Pentagon Worlds. This new version does and it really adds to some context that was welcomed.
This is not a plot-driven story – the Founding of the Clans has long been established in BattleTech lore. This is the story of two young men, one in particular, who grew up in the shadow of a great leader. Like so many stories of this type, great men do not necessarily make great fathers. Sibling rivalry and an upbringing during an oppressive occupation makes you wonder how much of a person is their genetics, and how much is forged in their environment. Randall dips his toes in that complicated pool with Nicholas and Andrey.
What this novel does is fill in some gaps in that history, making it much more complex, and far more interesting. Randall’s writing style is crisp and he knows his characters and all of their idiosyncrasies and strengths. The flashback sections are wonderful, giving us a view of Terra during the occupation – and also help us gain a grasp of at least one of the characters.
This has become one of my top novels now that it is finally out in wide-release. I can’t wait to re-read the next one. Easily five out of five stars if you are BattleTech fan in the post 3050 eras.