Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor.com (August 28, 2018)
Length: 112 pages
My Rating: 4 stars
War Cry is a short, action-oriented novella by Brian McClellan. Like his previous works in the Powder Mage Trilogy universe, the author mixes magic and more modern methods of warfare together to create a unique world; a tantalizing backdrop for this tale of soldier Teado and his small band of soldiers caught up in a brutal conflict. Here shape changers, illusionists, and fire wizards fight side-by-side with men riding motorcycles, flying World War II era fighter planes and bombers, and waging war with rifles and handguns. And while the narrative itself doesn’t vary far from the tried-and-true narrative of a classic war tale, War Cry is fast paced, filled with action galore, has several nice twists, and is addictive entertainment like all McClellan’s stories up to this point.
The war began before Teado was even born. The dark, horrific embrace of the endless struggle branding every one of his memories from earliest childhood to the present. All rumors of peace ridiculous lies to be scoffed at. The brutal, nearly forgotten struggle of his platoon the only real thing left in a world filled with shadows. His nights spent listening to the enemies radio broadcasts causing him to wonder if he should give up this fight, desert his comrades, and see if the promises of amnesty, food, and a soft bed are more than just lies. Yet Teado fights on, because his only family is the men and women whom he fights beside every day, and he cannot bear the thought of forsaking them or bringing them harm!
As I’ve already mentioned, War Cry is a rather short (112 pages) novella; its sole desire to tell an entertaining war story in a limited page count. To accomplish this feat, McClellan quickly introduces the main characters, sketches in a world caught up in a decades long war, then drops his readers into a non-stop, action-packed adventure. All of which means this isn’t a tale filled with penetrating introspection, detailed descriptions, endless commentary, or fully developed characters, so no one should pick this one up expecting all that.
Many reviewers seem to have issues with the complexity of War Cry though; its supposed failure to “flesh out” all the characters and fully reveal the world viewed as failures by the author to take full advantage of this premise. My response to these criticisms is that War Cry is not only a damn fun war story to read, but it’s exactly the type of fiction SFF needs more of these days. No, the novella doesn’t preach at its readers like it’s a holy text. Nope, it doesn’t endlessly expound upon meaningful social commentary. What it does is entertain its readers. And I, for one, am very happy it does, because we all need an escape from reality from time to time, and War Cry is exactly what I personally was looking for.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.