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A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Big ugly aliens are conquering planets in the galaxy, and the current owners of those planets are not happy about it. They find that Earth is on the list (along with a few more of thier own planets) and decide to use humans to try to turn the big ugly alien tide.

PROS: Solid characters and great sweeping action

CONS: Uses many military terms without fully defining them (sorry I was not in the military)

BOTTOM LINE: An excellent military science fiction book that takes some lumps for using too much jargon without definition.


This is the first book in the Legacy of the Alldenata series, and is available as an ebook for free (which had I RTFB – I would have known.) Anyways, the basic premise of the book is that Earth is in the path of a rampaging alien invasion (the aforementioned aliens are called the Posleen), and another race of aliens have deemed to assist Earth defend itself against these ruffians. Mind you they are doing this since they have lost a large number of worlds to the Posleen and several others are in line after Earth, but its obvious that there are ulterior motives at work here. The book discusses the exploits of several key humans who endeavor to work to create a fighting force able to defend Earth and one that can meet the Posleen in battle. It is this discussion of the characters that I found really intriguing. John Ringo does an excellent job describing the personalities and motivations of each of the key characters without making each one a cookie cutter version of Rambo which would have been the easy out.

Its quite obvious that John has had experience either in the military or with folks who are as he liberally uses military jargon throughout the book. While this does not detract from the rating, it is difficult for those who have not had that same exposure to keep up. I had to look up several terms and acronymns to find thier meaning. A simple table of common military terms at the beginning or end of the book would have been a nice addition to keep everyone at the same level. Along that line, I would seriously suggest to authors who like to use acronyms or slang of a given timeframe that a dictionary or cheat sheet is a very very good thing. I keeps the reader in the book and allows them to understand the term in context.

The book is an excellent military SF book with rousing action and great character development. The narrative flows very well, but the action is on seperate timelines since there are multiple threads running through the book. While I would have though this to confuse the story, it actually is nice in that it really helped drive me through the book in that I wanted to see how the events played out. He does not spend too much time describing the inner workings of the technology or logistics in transporting the forces. The point is to focus on the characters and the feeling that they are facing almost insurmountable odds with the Posleen invasion. It is definitely written as a part of a series (which is convienent that it is the first in one), but works well as a standalone novel. I liked the book and look forward to Gust Front and see how events continue to turn.

2 Comments on A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo

  1. Good call, Tim. I would also rate this a 4/5. Very enjoyable.

    I read Gust Front. (Actually, I started reading Gust Front before I realized it was the second in a series. So I went back to A Hymn Before Battle and then finsihed Gust Front.)

    While I also enjoyed Gust Front, if memory serves, I thought it was a little more drawn out. Still well worth the read, though.

  2. You can get them all on Baen’s eBook service. Some may even be in the free books section, as they were on one of their CD-ROM sets a few years back.

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