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5.0 out of 5 stars A good start for a new era in the BattleTech saga
Since WizKids bought out the BattleTech/MechWarrior franchise from the now defunct FASA, they have pulled a number of surprises on me. The nastiest was going into the local bookstore, checking out the latest MechWarrior book, and seeing the date "3132" in the first chapter's header. I nearly passed out.
But after recovering from the shock, I picked up a...
Published on April 20 2004 by Iron Mike

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Start
I believe that when a person picks up a book like this they are looking for military sci-fi and for the most part the Battletech/Mechwarrior books have been just that. Interesting characters and plots should be a central part of such novels but what we all want from military science fiction is some good old battle action to go hand in hand with it.
Mechwarrior Dark...
Published on May 6 2003


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2.0 out of 5 stars The new Battletech universe is wasting Stackpole's talent., May 19 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
I'm a great fan of Michael Stackpole, but his talent was wasted in having him write in the new Battletech universe.
The first half of the book is basically a poor introduction to the new battletech universe, which is starts off 60 years after the last book. The explanation for the new political revolution is muddled and vague The main characters of the previous universe and their fates are brushed off. Only one character has been brought back, briefly, but that appears to be a forced attempt to link the old universe to the new. But the worst sin in attempting to explain the new universe, there is no mention of the clans nor their fate. The biggest influence on the battletech universe is unacknowledged.
The second half of the book does picks up quite a bit, but not enough to overcome a lackluster first half. There is a great resemblance to the actions of the assassin in his previous battletech book, Natural Selection, which makes for enjoyable reading, but that period is too short. The greatest disappointment to this book is it's limited scope. Like another reviewer wrote, there are hints of a greater conspiracy, but they never develop and most of book is limited to actions that take place and only influence a single planet. Nothing like the galactic scale of Stackpole's previous battletech books.
In the end, I'd have to recommend against reading this book and definitely have no interest in reading any Mechwarrior Dark Age book. Stackpole is the best of the battletech writers and a great writer on his own, but if this is the best that the new universe can offer, there's no hope that the rest of the Dark Age books written by other authors will be any good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A good start for a new era in the BattleTech saga, April 20 2004
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
Since WizKids bought out the BattleTech/MechWarrior franchise from the now defunct FASA, they have pulled a number of surprises on me. The nastiest was going into the local bookstore, checking out the latest MechWarrior book, and seeing the date "3132" in the first chapter's header. I nearly passed out.
But after recovering from the shock, I picked up a copy of what was apparently the first novel in this new series (they need a better way to show what order they were in, although I had no trouble figuring it out from Amazon.com). Though initially skeptical-- I mean, I liked the old era and its characters!-- I was not disappointed.
Ghost War is very different from previous BattleTech favorites of mine, but it is still BattleTech. The first major change is that it is told from a first-person perspective. This was vital to the story, I later came to understand, but still somewhat of a shock. It is different stylistically (due to the entire story being colored by the perceptions of the main character, Sam Donelly). And finally, the new era still threw me off a hundred pages into the book. But after the shock of the surface differences, it becomes clear that not only was the move sixty-five years into the future a good idea, but having Stackpole handle it was also a good move.
The plot is twisting and convoluted, almost (but not quite) confusing at times. There is plenty of political intrigue and an element that has been a strong and important part of BattleTech, the concept that mankind will never cease to fight amongst themselves, is still preeminent. Stackpole handles the introduction of the new time period very well, and the main character, Sam Donelly, is well-constructed and entertaining. The use of humor through Sam's eyes is very well done also. Finally, the appearance (I won't call it cameo because I have a feeling he will be back) by none other than Victor Steiner-Davion was well appreciated and a good way to connect back to the old era.
If I had to complain, I would note that, like others have said, there is too little 'Mech action, but there is a reason for this (and there will be more action later on in the series). Also, Sam seems to be a little too perfect in some ways; it's not that he isn't flawed, but he is extremely versatile. Nonetheless I found myself rooting for him the whole time.
Another thing that bugs me is that Stackpole seemed to slip back into Star Wars at least once in the book, referencing a "holdout blaster" when the rest of the time they are "holdout lasers". But this minor editorial issue can be forgiven.
Overall an intriguing and entertaining read. I'll certainly buy more in the series, and I am anxiously awaiting MechWarrior 5.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My first Battletech reading experience, and I'm impressed, March 1 2004
By 
Daniel Jolley "darkgenius" (Shelby, North Carolina USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
I came into this book knowing absolutely nothing about the Mechwarrior or Battletech universe, and I naively had my doubts about the caliber of novels in this specific genre. Maybe it's the fact that I associate Battletech with PC and console gaming, but I was afraid this was just going to be a rather simplistic novel that served little purpose beyond framing a context in which huge metallic monsters can go at each other tooth and nail. My doubts turned out to be incredibly unfounded. I found Ghost War to be a complex, surprising, challenging read that combined action, drama, and well-placed bits of humor in a finely crafted package.
I did worry that I would be at a disadvantage here, not having read any of the earlier Battletech novels, but this first entry in the Mechwarrior: Dark Age series may well have posed fewer problems for me than for many of the Battletech gurus out there. Knowing nothing of the earlier history, I had no worries or questions about changes that had taken place in the Battletech universe during the preceding and apparently murky Golden Age of Peace spoken of here from the vantage point of 3132-3133. Much of that earlier history would seem to be minimized, in fact, because the computer network basically holding the Republic together over "the missing years" has now been taken out by unknown offenders, doing much to isolate the individual planets. With interplanetary communication greatly reduced, society's unsavory forces begin to climb back out of the shadows. Racial and cultural tensions increase, and greedy men seize the opportunity to play their little games of power. With internecine conflict simmering on a number of planets, the Republic finds its golden era of peace greatly threatened from within.
Fortunately, the Republic has certain individuals trained to observe, report, and work to forestall messy new conflicts in its sphere of influence. Special operatives dubbed Ghosts can be sent to infiltrate questionable planet-based organizations and work to ferret out the identities of the true bad guys out there, and the hero of this novel is one of the best. The story actually threw me for a bit of a loop about one hundred pages into it. I would like to say that Ghost War kept me guessing, but in all honesty I was so unprepared for what happened that I wasn't aware I should have been guessing in the first place. Battletech and Mechwarrior veterans are far too knowledgeable to fall for the plot device that zinged me, I imagine, but I did indeed get zinged. For this reason, I will refrain from really going into any detail about the plot.
I have sort of looked down upon series books of this type in the past (it's shameful, I know), but I vow to change my attitude from this point on. Ghost War is an intricate, carefully woven story that keeps the reader on his toes until the very end. My first Battletech novel will not be my last, and I can only hope that other Battletech authors can rival the talent of Michael A. Stackpole.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where did they hide all the mechs?, July 16 2003
By 
"willcortez" (Beaverton, OR United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
I was absolutely excited for this series to start as I have been following battletech for quite some time now and hundreds of dollars later. Anyway, I'm pretty well read in BT (I own 60+ novels & field manuals) and had a lot of expectations for this new series.
The premise for the whole new series is absolutely captivating with this idea of a Republic now in ruins because of some secret & coordinated breakdown of all but a few hpg's. Unfortunately, that's all I have been excited about thus far. One of the things that kept me reading BT so much was having the TRO's on hand so I knew what the mechs were and what their capabiliities are. Now with all those damn vehicles & infantry running around, it has become very confusing. I guess I've got to hunt down the new TRO's.
I've got too many questions still (I just finished Book I of the proving Grounds Trilogy; that title makes no sense to me either) and I'm starting to get worried that this mystery about the hpg breakdown and this business about the forming of factions is going to go on forever (much in the same way Katrina's murders were never proved for so long).
How in the world does someone get to be a Knight of the Republic? Or even a Paladin? Why is it these people are treated like gods, like they were ordained to be protectors of the universe? Where did all the mechwarriors go? Did they die of old age? Why choose Victor to be the only one alive? If the Republic can field a mech for each Knight and each Paladin and so on, what keeps them from issuing martial law and going around planet to planet stomping factions out? Why just send one person (in most cases without a mech) to "fix" things? I absolutely appreciate the political & social aspect of the BT novels but there is way too much talking and not enough mech action. Didn't anyone hide any mechs much in the way that Comstar hid warships for so long? Lastly, what is happening in the rest of the IS? I noticed in the maps that came with each MW:DA book that (with the exclusion of the Republic) none of the boundaries have changed.
All in all, I give this book 5 stars for being the first book in what "could" become a powerful and intriguing series. It also gets 5 stars for some outstanding writing by a venerable author. Go out and buy his other books; non-BT related that is! I am concerned that this series could die becuase of poor writing. WizKids, please bring back some of the original BT writers (i.e. Pardoe, Keith, Gressman, Thurston, Billis, Charette, Milan, etc.)!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Baffling at first, but stackpole's back, so I can't complain, June 18 2003
By 
Phelan Blake (Northwind, searching for those damn Highlanders) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
The departure of Mike Stackpole from the BattleTech series saddened me to no end, back when it happened. He was the one B-tech author I could really stand to read-in all honesty, Mech Combat isn't that interesting to read about, but Stackpole's byzantine plots and general COOL Political and covert-ops storylines were a joy to read, and his characters, while not all believable, were people that I found really interesting, and at times unpredictable.
Now, to my surprise, he's returned to the B-tech scene with this new book, Ghost War.
The book starts out confusing. I missed most of the rest of the books in the MechWarrior series, so I go from about 3065 to about 31something in a snap. Suddenly, everyone's dead!! Several of the main characters from the old books had kicked the bucket, Victor Davion is old and feeble, and this Republic is here again. This is dissapointing...I hated the republic.
So imagine my surprise and joy when it all starts tumbling down! I look forward to another succession war soon.
Anyway. Mike stackpole has a unique writing style that never fails to dissapoint. His interesting dialogues and humor that creeps up on you unexpectedly and evokes a laugh from you always keeps me entertained and wishing for more, and, as always, the plotline doesn't dissapoint, with just the right amount of intrigue to keep you turning pages.
4.5 stars, I give this one, mostly lacking the half for it's setting. Hopefully they'll start the 5th sucession war soon and get me really into it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Start, May 6 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
I believe that when a person picks up a book like this they are looking for military sci-fi and for the most part the Battletech/Mechwarrior books have been just that. Interesting characters and plots should be a central part of such novels but what we all want from military science fiction is some good old battle action to go hand in hand with it.
Mechwarrior Dark Age (the game on which these novels are based on) is a game about combat, about battles, about tactics and just good ol' stuff getting blown to bits. I would think if you are looking to get more people excited about this game you would want to convey that idea through these novels. Yes, its a good idea to set up the universe your dealing with, breath life into it as it were, but here with Ghost War we have too much "talking the talk" and not nearly enough "walking the walk".
Michael Stackpole has written some wonderful Battletech novels which usually start out slow and build, giving lots of backround but also thrilling battle scenes. This novel is a lot of backround and always the promise that some thrilling battle scene is just over the horizon, but its not until the very end that we finally get a battle which is too short and just leaves you flat.
I am not saying you should skip this altogether but if you do read it don't let the lack of action stop you from getting the second novel in this new series, "A Call To Arms", because you battle action fans will be rewarded with that one.
W.
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5.0 out of 5 stars There's a signpost up ahead ..., April 19 2003
By 
Antoine C. Lovell "antoine226" (Yonkers, New York United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
I've never read any of the other MechWarrior or BattleTech series of books, yet I have been very interested in the MechWarrior PC games. As a matter of fact, I have MechWarrior 3 on my computer, and I am looking forward to upgrading my gaming system to Microsoft's X-Box just so I can have Mech Assault. If there is anything that I can say about MWDA:Ghost War, it's that I love this book! I was warned (I read another review)that I would be in for a ride. And I have been on one since the first page. And it hasn't changed my opinion about the game, whatsoever. Every step I take in a 'Mech, is an imaginery walk in Mason's 'Mech. Michael Stackpole's Mason Dunne tells it like it is, and can walk the walk to prove it. Although, if you leave it to Lady lakewood, he's a bit clumsy. However, Stackpole has a good sense of deception. I was fooled by the Sam Donnelly/Mason Dunne character and his intentions. I was even more fooled by the so-called arrest by Janella Lakewood. No need to say more and ruin the story there.
Yet, I give the same warning to those who are about pick up this book: your in for one hell of a ride!
I hope that the remaining three books, and all of the others are just as exciting as this one. For a first timer, and an avid fan of Briam Lumley's Necroscope Series, this is a very decent change of pace for me. Every page read is a new lesson learned in playing the game. But then again, I'm just a junkie for this kind of stuff, and I have a run-away imagination. I'm sure I'm not the only one. Anyway, read MWDA: Ghost War. Live it, feel it, explore it, chew on it for lunch! You'll find it pleasing to the palate. Especially if you envision it with today's headlines of war here, impending war there, you'll raise an eyebrow at some of the similarities. There's a sign post up ahead - "Warning: 'Mech Crossing" Just pray that its a Ghost Knight.
I give MWDA:Ghost War, 4 stars. Add 1 because at this point I haven't finished reading as of yet. And I'm waiting for the next one to arrive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining read., March 10 2003
By 
L. Blasiman (Canton, Ohio USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
Battletech books have always been fun 300-page novels. And Ghost War is certainly that but no more. Credit has to be given to Stackpole for using a different perspective and having the unenviable job of taking the Dark Age storyline on its maiden voyage. He holds up rather well, his writing is often smart and sometimes clever even if the story isn't. But Stackpole has fun fleshing out the Dark Age universe and does a good job painting a gritty covert war undermining a peaceful era.
However the story is long on exposition and short of everything else. Many pages are chewed up by the main character explaining some plan, part of history or motives of other characters. The main character himself is almost James Bond-like. He can charm the ladies, outsmart the local government and is always one step ahead of his enemy. When all else fails, he happens to be a crack Mechwarrior. Thus since he cannot fail there is little suspense. By the end of the book the reader is still left with the big questions from the start. Ghost War is more of an elaborate prologue to MechWarrior Dark Age than anything else.
Still it's fun and it's good to see something fresh in the Battletech storyline.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some interesting parts but mostly failure, Feb. 20 2003
This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
Sam Donelly is working as a Lumbermech on the forest planet of Helen when he is thrown in major deep trouble. Across the whole inner-sphere there is no communication between planets (hence 'Dark Age') and the Republic fears that isolation and no communication will lead to worlds being overtaken by tyrants. And it is Sam's job to make sure that doesn't happen on the rainforest world of Basalt.
It sounds intriguing but there is hardly any action and when it does finally happen it's not described in a particularly engaging way which is a shame. What we end up with is a Tom Clancy novel set in the Battletech/Mechwarrior universe.
This is how the novel ends up being a real mixed bag. While it is a good way for non-fans to be introduced to the Battletech/Mechwarrior universe it isn't such a great or meaningful story. Tho Stackpole seems to think the novel should be held in higher regard and writes it in such a way that could be interpreted as arrogance.
Written in the first-person perspective the Narrator Sam/Mason makes quite a few remarks near the beginning about how we are reading a fine piece of literature. Now this may be a bit of sarcastic humor that Stackpole is playing on us but a pulp novel that is no more than a spin-off from the Battletech franchise is NOT fine literature. Trust me kids, study this for your English papers and you will likely fail.
Tho it is a BIT better written than one would expect from a novel of such origins and the 39 chapters are all separated in 7 pages slices with a small, but relevant, quotation opening each of them. And, as with most novels of this character, the first-person narrative is useless and nothing would be lost if the book were told in omnipotence. There is no REAL personal side to the narrator. He may be a cool character but there is no point in it just being HIS story.
Read if you like Battletech/Mechwarrior or want to be introduced to the universe. Stay away if you have desires to read some of the other, better, entries.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Poor start to the new series, Feb. 6 2003
By 
Joshua Duckworth (Allentown, PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War (Mass Market Paperback)
This was one of the worst books in all of the Battletech books. Not only is the only major mech battle not until the very end, but the whole Republic of the Sphere is totally implausible. The Successor States, who are in existence in basically the same form over 4 centuries, give in to a Republic that is barely 60 years old? The same thing with the Clans, which is even worse, since their whole life is bent on claiming Terra to rebuild the Inner Sphere in the image. In less than 60 years the entire face of the Inner Sphere is transformed, which could not be done in no less than 4 Succession Wars? And we get a cursory appearance by Victor Davion, the best character in the prior books? All that did was pander to the people, like me, who feared what would happen to all the of excellent storylines and characters of the previous line of books. As for the writing, it is the standard fare of the main character is on the side of right, and all other sides are therefore evil and wrong. This is evident at the very end by the words of Lady Lakewood and by the main character. At first I was sorry that Stackpole had left writing the Battletech series, but now I see why that the storyline by Loren Coleman was so much better. Stackpole should not do another story in the first person. I can only hope that Loren Coleman's book will give me some hope that the new series will turn out for the best.
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Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War
Mechwarrior Dark Age 01 Ghost War by Michael A. Stackpole (Mass Market Paperback - Dec 3 2002)
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