Friday, January 10, 2014

Booktalk – Wolves on the Border

While I have written a number of stories and been involved with several sourcebooks, my contribution is but a drop in the buck in the amount of stories and source books that have been written. I’ve decided to highlight some of these earlier works, and show how they are still relevant to day. These won’t be book reviews, but why I think they’re important.

I’ve decided to start with one of the first Battletech Novels: Wolves on the Border by Robert Charrette.



Many Battletech fans consider this the best Battletech novel ever written, and it’s hard to argue with that claim. This is the first novel that the reader sees large-scale warfare. In Decision at Thunder Rift, the main thrust is small-unit action, less than a company of ’Mechs involved. In the Sword and the Dagger, it’s political intrigue. In Wolves on the Border, it’s warfare.

Minobu Tetsuhara is a loyal officer in the Draconis Combine Mustered Soldiery. When he spares the life of an enemy, he is stripped of his position and reassigned as a liaison officer to a newly hired mercenary unit --- Wolf's Dragoons. He discovers that the enemy he spared was the Dragoon's commander, Colonel Jamie Wolf.

As he works with the Dragoons and Colonel Wolf, Tetsuhara find that he is more accepted by the mercenaries than he is by the Combine. Tetshura and Wolf becomes friends, finding common ground as warriors, As the Dragoons win victory after victory, Tetsuhara finds that their success is also his success.

He is given the task of training a new division of warriors, in the image of the Dragoons. But when Warlord Samsonov tried to trap the Dragoons into becoming a permanent part of the DCMS, the Wolves refuse, and Tetshura is forced to fight his friend Jamie Wolf and his Dragoons.

It’s our first good look at two important parts of the Battletech universe: The Draconis Combine and Wolves Dragoons. The Combine soldier as Samauri is established here, and the reader see it in Tetshura's actions and manner. We also see the power games and vicious backstabbing that hides behind the image. In the Dragoons, we see a highly profession unit of soldiers, with hints of a background that doesn't become known until twenty-five years later.

The story is solid, the action well-imaged, setting the standards for every other author that follows. The events have consequences far beyond the novel, and it's after effects felt for a long time. Several major characters are introduced in this novel --  Jaime Wolf,  Natasha Kerensky, Takashi Kurita, and The Bounty Hunter. Besides the Dragoons, this novel marks the first story appearance of the Sword of Light regiments, the Ryuken, and the Eridani Light Horse.

I consider this novel to be the most important novel in the fist several years of Battletech. It is one of the foundation stones on which the Battletech legacy is laid, and without it, the Battletech Universe would have been different.

Craig

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