Mechwarrior: Dark Ages #28 - Fire At Will: ** 1/2 (out of 4)
(I'm going to start posting reviews of the various Mechwarrior: Dark Ages novels, as I read them; I've been posting them on Amazon for a while, but that seems less helpful than posting them to Usenet. It's going to take a while to figure out how to balance the various audiences, but I'll do my best.)
Fire At Will continues the focus of the MW:DA series on the actions surrounding the borders between the Lyran Commonwealth, the (formers) Free Worlds League, and (to a lesser extent) the Republic of the Sphere. This is a marked departure from the start of the series, which focused on the Republic alone; but this also has made for more interesting books, with more politics and wider-scale action, more along the lines of the Battletech novels published just before the MW:DA time jump.
In this case, the novel focuses on the Lyran invasion of the FWL. As we learned in Pandora's Gambit, the League is finally beginning to re-merge into a single political force once again, after decades of internal fighting; but the associated saber-rattling has offered a much-desired excuse for the Lyran government to pre-emptively invade their neighbours.
I was somewhat surprised at how well this novel fit in with its predecessor; we don't often get both sides of the same general war in such quick succession. Both the Lyrans and the various Marik factions came across as sympathetic and thoughful; only the main villains' plans (Duke Brewster) really came across as ludicrous.
I still wish it was as good as Surrender Your Dreams, Pardoe's best work to date. But this was pretty good. I didn't feel like I wasted my time...