Retaliation

The Sol Saga Book 2

Fiction - Science Fiction
405 Pages
Reviewed on 11/09/2021
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by JC Minnaar for Readers' Favorite

War changes people. Nothing is more apparent than in James Fox’s second book of the Sol series, Retaliation. Ed McAaron has a lot to come to grips with such as his father being murdered by the corrupt Protectorate/UNIC government and becoming the leader of the Resistance fighting against this government. Keith Brennan, former general of the Protectorate, wastes away from a guilty conscience believing himself to be the cause of the lives lost during the Red Massacre. Lisa Colt, fighter pilot for the Protectorate, is out from under her mother’s wing and needs to prove that her accomplishments don’t stem from being the Admiral’s daughter. Lisa, however, cannot shake the gnawing suspicion that Jonathan Spalding’s dishonorable discharge has a foul scent to it. Hard choices lie ahead as the war for Mars’s independence rages on to a point of no return.

James Fox’s Retaliation left me shellshocked more than once as the Resistance takes one heroic step forward just to be crushed two steps back by the Protectorate military. My nerves were on a rollercoaster as warfare constantly moves from boots on the ground action to fleets shooting it out in space. The rich detail of James Fox’s writing is absolutely stunning; from detailed descriptions of how military equipment looks and operates to the environmental hazards of Mars. It's apparent that a lot of research went into Retaliation’s writing. I realized that soldiers are tough but civilians aren’t soldiers. Retaliation paints a grim portrait of the struggles, physically and mentally, of ordinary people needing to adjust to military life. Mars, along with its people, are forever ravaged and changed by politics, mysteries, and warfare going into book three of the Sol saga, Revelation.

Foluso Falaye

Jonathan had only wanted to be the best pilot in the system when everything was taken from him. His accounts had been seized, but he had no idea why. Though they blamed him for the deaths of the Legion, his memories were a mess due to his recent excessive drinking. However, if he succeeded in getting two minutes with Admiral Maureen Colt, things might turn around for him. Frankie Zoya, who becomes a Homeland runaway, is caught between her lifelong duty of protecting the world, especially Mars, and hoping for an uprising. As redemption mixes with retaliation, a battle against oppression and corruption commences. In Retaliation: The Sol Saga Book 2 by James Fox, a rebellion advances into a full space civil war rife with alarming secrets, dirty political moves, intricate strategies, and intense battle scenes.

If colonizations of different continents on earth were—in many cases—followed by civil wars for independence, the same thing is likely to happen with the expansion of human civilization to other planets. James Fox paints this futuristic phenomena with a political, action-packed story told from multiple viewpoints. Retaliation is impressively profound and consists of well-developed characters who have complex, relatable struggles hitched to quests for power, appreciation, and justice. Sci-fi fans will appreciate the intricate technical details about space and war machines. My favorite part of the book was a character's thoughts about the tendency to be too busy to enjoy life until when faced with death. In conclusion, though it could be more exciting, Retaliation gives readers an elaborate depiction of a complex, multifaceted power struggle and an elaborate space war.

Stephanie Chapman

Retaliation is a science fiction story featuring a space-age civil war on Mars. In the second book of The Sol Saga, James Fox sets the story using alternating viewpoints of the Protectorate and the rebels. Lisa, the daughter of Admiral Maureen Colt, is an elite lead pilot after her mentor, Jonathon Spalding, is dishonorably discharged. Her squadron members imply that she only received her position through nepotism. Spalding is now a target by the Protectorate after he is blamed for the deaths of his team. On Mars, Bruce Afolabi is attempting to gain power by imprisoning Governor Helena Chu. He is met with opposition from a rebel group led by Ed McAaron. Keith “Red” Brennan joins forces with the rebels, even though many blame him for the senseless massacre of innocent lives. Meanwhile, in the background, Frankie Zoya is relaying information to help the rebel forces while she is hiding from a dark past. This is the story of good and bad colliding in space for planetary domination, with no clear lines of right or wrong.

I enjoyed the suspense in Retaliation and the remarkable character development that Fox employs to bring the story to life. The internal struggles they endure are realistic. I could genuinely understand why Lisa was targeted as having preferential treatment. No matter what she did, there would always be some distrust from her wingman. Helena Chu was one of the characters I disliked. She killed one person who was trying to help her and felt no remorse. The story's pace and timeline were easy to follow, but it was hard to choose who might be a good person or not. My favorite scene was the interaction between Ed and Gregorio Helier. Helier was a sociopathic pirate with a notorious reputation. When Ed gives him a list of needed items ranging from weapons to explosives, Helier gives him a price that is extremely high. After Ed ponders for a few moments, Helier says, “Economics travel quickly during times like this, no?" The intense scenes kept me reading, hoping that the rebellion would gain the upper hand. Fox ended the book where the story could go either way. The details and realistic emotions easily earn this story a 5-star rating.

Vincent Dublado

James Fox presents Retaliation, the second book in his Sol Saga. The conspiracy and intrigue continue where it left off, as disgraced ex-general Keith Brennan sees no chance at redemption after taking the blame for a political assassination and massacre. And why should they give him a chance? The whole thing was a setup from the beginning. Someone from higher up intended it to happen, with Brennan as the designated scapegoat. Meanwhile, Helena knows that the worst is yet to come for her while she is in the custody of the new Martian government, and her health is failing. War looms at an intense degree unprecedented in the annals of history, as President Trent and his friends will stop at nothing to further their personal ambitions.

Retaliation makes effective use of the military science fiction genre to attack political issues, conspiracies, and that peculiar position of power that determines everyone’s fate. Bureaucrats and demagogues who use their power and influence to gain their own ends are largely the enemies, and as they are smoked out from the shadows, the storyline gains momentum. It’s a fast-paced story that does not hinge only on its action and battle scenes but also depends on its sense of paranoia and tactics. This is one of the reasons why this series works so well. Does it offer a formulated happy ending as it proceeds to the next installment? James Fox gives you that feeling of being satisfied with the resolution yet at the same time whets your curiosity enough to look forward to the next book.

Rabia Tanveer

Retaliation is the second book in The Sol Saga series by James Fox. There was a time when Keith was the man for the job, but now he is disgraced and has lost his reputation. He was supposed to lose everything due to political fallout, but somehow, he salvaged a part of himself that no one could touch. Now is his time for redemption, and Keith is ready to do whatever it takes to snatch it. If Keith can stop the UNIC Protectorate and aid the revolutionaries, he can just save the planet and stop the war with Mars before it is too late. He also has one advantage this time: he is not alone. With people fighting alongside him, Keith is ready to give it his all to save innocent lives before everything is lost. But will he survive long enough? Will anyone believe him or give him a chance to do so?

I was blown away when I read Revolution and had high expectations before reading Retaliation. I am so glad that author James Fox did not disappoint me! Picking up momentum from a fantastic first novel in the series is very hard, especially when the first novel was so good. The action never dies in the story, and that gave me the reason to read more. I finished this in a single sitting, and I cannot explain how much I loved each second of it. The pace of the story matches Keith’s progress. As Keith gained confidence, the pace increased and allowed readers to feel some of the excitement that Keith was feeling. The dialogues are excellent, and the descriptions transported me. There was never a dull moment in the story, and I cannot wait for the third part of this trilogy.