Friendly Fire by Gavin Smith

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Friendly Fire is the second book in Smith’s Bastard Legion series, started earlier this year with The Bastard Legion (formerly The Hangman’s Daughter). I loved that first book and thought that there was much potential going forward with both the characters and world-building. Suffice to say my expectations were met as I read through Friendly Fire rather quickly…

friendly-fireFollowing on from the end of The Bastard Legion, Friendly Fire takes no time in re-introducing us to the world of the Hangman’s Daughter and her somewhat unbalanced chief, Miska Corbin. With her dead father the AI in charge of training the coerced inmates that form Miska’s mercenary force (Miska has a quick kill in place should the inmates turn rogue), we get a first hand look at how that goes, and just what can happen when things go wrong. And that sets the tone for the novel perfectly.

With a new job on the books, along with the need to re-stock and re-supply following their last mission, the Hangman’s Daughter docks where it can get the service it needs, but not without Miska walking right into the aim of an FBI team sent to track her down, led by her none-too-happy sister. With a family reunion cut short, and Miska left rather displeased, the Bastard Legion commence their next job of retrieving an alien artifact, but the planet it’s on is the former home to some of Miska’s unwilling crew, and that in itself is going to cause her problems…

I think what makes Friendly Fire such a good read – aside from the superb action sequences – are the characters. Not only is Miska such a huge grey area in what she does and how she’ll react, but the members of the Bastard Legion on her squad this time get some good characters development. While these are proper bad guys, ranging from mafia boss to yakuza assasin, we get to see different sides to them that make then both endearing and frightening in equal measure.

If I had one complaint it would be about the sub-plot about looking for Miska’s fathers killers. Actually, it’s not even a sub-plot, it’s the whole reason Miska created the Bastard Legion in the first place, and there isn’t much momentum on it in Friendly Fire. But despite that, I can’t wait for War Criminals, the next book in this series, to come rocking along, guns blazing!

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