Over the last year, I've read the Frontlines series by Marko Kloos. Here's my review of how the entire collection of military science-fiction novels stacks up.
The year is 2108. A young Andrew Grayson is a welfare rat living in one of the North American Commonwealth’s many Public Relations Clusters, PRCs. It’s a overcrowded, crime-ridden, community where day-to-day survival is the main focus for most people. There are only two ways out. You can hope to win the lottery and draw a ticket on a colony ship settling off-world, or you can join the service in the war against the Sino-Russian Alliance.
Andrew decides to enlist in the armed forces for a shot at real food, a retirement bonus, and maybe a ticket off Earth. This decision puts him on a decade long path from welfare rat to experienced military officer. Crushing welfare riots as a foot solider in the Territorial Army, or battling the SRA for off-world real estate is a tough and grueling job. But it’s a walk in the park compared to the dangers Andrew faces when blood thirsty aliens suddenly show up on humanity’s doorstep.
The Author: Marko Kloos
Marko Kloos is a German-born science-fiction author. Raised in and around the city of Münster, he now lives in New Hampshire, USA. Marko writes primarily science fiction and fantasy, his first genre love ever since his youth when he spent his allowance mostly on German SF pulp serials.
Over the years, Marko has worked as, among other things, a bookseller, freight dock worker, and corporate IT administrator. But then he decided to try his luck as a full time author. His first novel, Terms of Enlistment, was published in 2013, and is the first in the Frontlines series. In the series, he draws from his experience from when he served as a soldier in the German army.
The Frontlines series consists of six novels, with a new novel being published by 47North every year from 2013 to 2018. Terms of Enlistment (2013), Lines of Departure (2014), Angles of Attack (2015), Chains of Command (2016), Fields of Fire (2017), and Points of Impact (2018).
The novels are mostly fast-paced, and packed with military and fleet action. There’s little downtime and unnecessary descriptions of the smell of the flowers, or romantic dialogue. But there is, of course, a love story going as a common thread through the series. It’s not overwhelming, however, and Kloos doesn’t fall for the temptation to go completely off the rails with zero-gravity romance.
I sincerely enjoyed all 6 novels in the series, with the third one, Angels of Attack being the highlight. In the fourth novel, Chains of Command, Kloos uses too much time on talk, and not enough on the action. It’s not that the less action-packed parts of Kloos writing is bad or boring, it’s just that the parts with pod drops, spaceships, and nukes are so much better. In my simple mind, Chains of Command is the weakest link in the Frontlines chain. Pun very much intended.
If you’re into science-fiction that doesn’t demand much of the reader, the Frontlines series is right up your ally. I read the Kindle editions of the novels, and some of them were dirt cheap, costing less than $2 at the time. That’s an incredible value for money. Even at $15 a pop you wouldn’t have felt cheated out of your hard earn money.
More To Come?
Is the 2018 Points of Impact the last novel in the Frontlines series? it’s hard to tell. I can’t find any information about any new Frontlines novels in the works. The ending of Points of Impact works both as an ending for the entire series, and as a segue to a new book.
One possible sign that Kloos is done with Andrew Grayson and the Frontlines universe, is that he will soon be publishing the first novel in a brand new series. In July, you can read Aftershocks, the first novel in the Palladium Wars series. It’s set in another fictional universe, but from the description, my best guess is that the series won’t be very different from Frontlines.
Kloos has, perhaps unintentionally, opened up for the possibility of a spin off novel. In between the fifth and sixth Frontlines novel, Andrew spends 18 months on Earth in the Lazarus Brigade. Something happened to him during his enlistment in the brigade. Andrew becomes a darker, more cynical man.
It feels like a story I’d like to read, so I’m hoping Kloos hasn’t abandoned Andrew Grayson and the Frontlines universe completely just yet.