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Out of the Dark    by David Weber order for
Out of the Dark
by David Weber
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though, after reading a preview, I knew the punch line before I started reading David Weber's new War of the Worlds (with a significant twist) novel, that in no way diminished my enjoyment in watching the story wend its way Out of the Dark.

It begins with a Barthoni Survey Team's horror filled observation of the English victory over the French at the brutal Battle of Agincourt in 1415. The Galactic Hegemony likes stability, already endangered by the recent admission to its membership of the aggressive, carnivorous Shongairi - humans seem even worse! Galactic politicians assign Earth to the Shongairi for colonization. Despite their recognition on arrival that Earth has accelerated to a Level Two civilization (making it ineligible for the Shongairi takeover), they destroy all its major cities and military centers. The Shongairi plan to turn the remaining population into slave-soldiers.

The story follows various centers of resistance around the world. In the southeastern US, former Marine Dave Dvorak, runs an indoor shooting range with his brother-in-law Rob Wilson (also an ex-Marine). When they realize what's happening they quickly move their families to an isolated cabin in the mountains of North Carolina that they had long since stocked - and armed - in anticipation of a national disaster or major terrorist incident. They figure that alien invasion qualifies for use of their bolthole, which soon becomes the center of an active guerrilla resistance movement.

When the Shongairi attacks begin, Marine Master Sergeant Stephen Buchevsky is on his way home from his fourth deployment in Afghanistan, looking forward to hugging his children - his plane crash lands in the Balkans and he takes charge of the survivors, devastated by the knowledge that his family were in Washington and that it's gone. Gradually his band grows to include Romanian civilians and soldiers they save from the Shongairi. They move, hide and fight and eventually meet another group, led by Mircea Basarab. He invites them to shelter in the mountain villages under his protection. They join forces.

Unfortunately, the human resistance is almost too effective and the Shongairi decide to develop and accidentally deploy 'a targeted bioweapon'. All seems lost for humanity until ancient protectors emerge out of the dark to 'remember the obligations of honor' and take the fight to the enemy. Though it's a wonderful standalone read, Out of the Dark also begins a new series. It ends on Year 1 of the Terran Empire and I'm very curious to see where David Weber takes his unusual storyline next. Don't miss this one.

Audiobook Review (Rating:2):

Macmillan Audio's unabridged rendition of David Weber's Out of the Dark is done in seventeen hours and thirteen CDs.

Charles Keating narrates, and though he is a talented speaker who varies his voice admirably to fit the broad range of human and alien characters, I found the choice of an older English actor an odd one, given so many young, macho American parts. Unfortunately, the English accent comes through even when Keating does his best to sound American for roles like Dvorak, Wilson and Buchevsky - and he just doesn't sound young enough.

That aside, I find that an audiobook always adds to the story experience for me, giving new insights into descriptions of surroundings and the tension of action sequences. When I enjoy reading a novel - as was very much the case with Out of the Dark - my appreciation only gets stronger after listening to it.

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