David Gunn is back with his third Death’s Head novel and it’s a good one. Lt. Sven Tveskoeg finds himself on some downtime after the conclusion of Maximum Offense resting at the home of Debro and Aptitude Wildside. Of course this being a Death’s Head novel the tranquility lasts about four pages. A message comes from Sven’s commander and he’s off with a new group of supporting characters through his home city Farlight as it is torn asunder. Political intrigue, the nature of what exactly Octo V is and the sheer brutality of war are all explored here. Sven is a great narrator, he doesn’t pretent to know more than he does and the layers are peeled back for the reader as they are for Sven.
Much of the dangling plots in the series are tied up. We get the first real glimpse into what exactly the Octavian Empire is and who is ruling it. We also get some tantalizing glimpses of what Sven himself might be. Gunn’s writing is crisp as ever and Sven’s voice is a fun one to spend time with. This time out Sven does get pushed to the limit. He’s without his combat arm and his AI guided SIg handgun for much of the book but it works. Gunn also introduces some freakish creatures called Furies which are as much machine as anything else that drink blood through their fingers. The scope of the game has expanded in each installment and in this one the full board gets largely exposed. Gunn leaves the series at a really interesting point where he can go off in an entirely new direction if he chooses. Rumor has it he is working on a fourth installment. We can only hope.