Review: March Upcountry (Empire of Man Book 1 of 4)

March Upcountry - John Ringo, David Weber

I had trouble getting into this book, and even considered abandoning it early on because it wasn’t holding my interest.  However, I did become more interested in it as things progressed.

The story is that a group of space marines are escorting a prince to an event on another planet.  The prince is the younger son of the empress.  He’s spoiled and rather arrogant, and he’s been kept largely ignorant of the greater political machinations that have always been going on around him.  Most people can’t stand him, and they aren’t even sure if he’s loyal to the empress, but it's their duty to protect him and they're determined to do so.  En route to their destination, their ship is sabotaged and they’re forced to take escape shuttles to a nearby hostile planet.  From that point, it’s a combination military/survival story as the company of soldiers and the prince try to make their way across a planet with hostile animals and hostile people and limited supplies.

The story started to get more interesting to me once they landed on the planet, but the story never gripped me or held anything special for me.  It was pretty straight-forward, and never really presented me with any questions or major surprises.  There was a huge cast of characters and this is one of those third-person omniscient point-of-view books where the reader is bounced around between various characters’ heads from paragraph to paragraph.  It wasn’t too difficult to follow, but it did occasionally give me pause.  At one point, the authors even told us what a pet lizard was thinking…

The prince was a somewhat interesting character, and he grew more likeable as the book went on.  A couple of the other characters were pretty likeable also.  However, I never felt heavily invested in either the characters or the story.  It wasn’t a bad book, and I was mildly entertained by it, but I could easily pick it up and read for just a few minutes and then put it down again.  I don’t plan to read the sequels.