I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
dystopian, science fiction in Hardcover edition that was published by Baen Books on February 7, 2012 and has 432 pages.
Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.
Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Invasion, Silence, Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar, A Scandal in Battersea
Second in the Secret World Chronicle dystopian comic in text form.
Based on characters from the MMORPG game, City of Heroes.
It’s like reading a comic book but without the pictures. A sea of superheroes, some of whom manifest with special powers brought on by traumatic events, and they all have typical superhero crazy names. The majority are bent on protecting the world with a few on the other side. Naturally, the bad guys have too much strength and superior weaponry.
It’s lot of action with a fascinating blend of real world tactics and superhero exploits.
LMLG have created a nice bit of tension with the various factions: there’s the American company of metahumans, Echo, with its wimpy leader, struggling to battle the bad guys; the CCCP are Russian metahumans rejected by their homeland, struggling to hold the party line and protect their neighborhood; Domenic Verdigris the multibillionaire psychopath representing the baddest of the bad…humans; and, finally, the Nazi-like Thulians, an alien race who interfaced with the Nazis in World War II and have attacked earth.
The authors take turns creating the chapters and do a wonderfully seamless job of it; admittedly, Lackey is a partner on most of them. I do love how well they maintain the various characters’ accents and speaking styles. Very impressive.
The missions Bulwark’s Misfits take on allow us to see them grow as a team. Right up until the end.
I gotta confess that Verdigris is pretty funny to read even as his attitude disgusts me.
“Verdigris had written some of the Evil Overlord lists; he thought they were hilarious.”
Bella has an interesting — and practical — approach to PTSD. I suspect a lot of people can empathize with the kind of care Mel has received and would appreciate Bella’s honesty. It’s possible that soldiers won’t want to read of Mel’s ordeals as a POW. Too many bad memories.
I think Khanjar is missing the point of balancing her karma.
Whew. We get John’s backstory on how he became a meta as well as Vicki’s childhood history and what led to her current disabilities. Jack has some beans to spill, but for all his smarts, he’s kind of dumb in where, when, and how he spills it. Red Djinni leaks his story with all that thinking and regretting he’s doing.
I hate that I’m gonna have to wait for book 3 — this is a fun read, if you enjoy dystopian, militaristic, sci-fi, that is.
After the Thulian attack in Invasion, the world has fallen apart. Many of the meta superheroes are dead. Cities are in ruins. And the pieces are being picked up by the underworld. Crooks, Verdigris, Blackstone.
Seraphym visits Verdigris and shows him the future awaiting him. One so terrible, so invasive that he willingly changes his direction. But, hey, he’s a super villain…
Bulwark’s Misfits are expendable enough that Echo sends them into the Goldman Catacombs. A possibly mystical storage area of the Thulians. Then there’s John’s interaction helping to protect a nuclear power plant. A wood-fired one. The battles with the Rebs. All sorts of betrayal at Echo Ops.
And a somewhat expected pairing.
John Murdock is an enhanced human who is much stronger and faster than the average human and can shoot fire from his fingertips. He was Delta Force before he volunteered for the enhancement. Now he’s allied with the CCCP.
CCCP and its operatives
Kicked out of Mother Russia, these superhero rejects are determined to battle for America and life while they protect the people around their headquarters. Red Saviour is their leader, a.k.a., Commissar Natalya Shostakovich. Jadwiga is the doctor, a.k.a., Soviette; Gamayun is CCCP’s answer to Vickie; Chug was a brilliant scientist before his accident, now he’s an incredibly strong rocklike creature; Georgi Vlasov, a.k.a., Untermensch; Perun has an affinity to electricity; Rusalka; Vladimir Pavlovich Polokhov, a.k.a., Soviet Bear, knows all about the ancient Soviet generators the CCCP uses; Mamona is a psionicist; Sirin forces the ground to erupt; Alkonost “dazes targets with her ear-piercing shrieks”; Striborg; Fei Li uses swords; Zmey wears a hydrocephalic flame-producing helmet; Upyr is a botanist and has a vampiric power in which she takes people’s energy and can pass it on to others; and People’s Blade. New arrivals who just get a mention include Molotok. Seems the Soviets don’t want any metas who don’t toe the party line or whose powers aren’t up to snuff.
Echo and its operatives
Victoria Victrix Nagy (for some reason Saviour calls her Daughter of Rasputin) is a crippled techno-mage with a penchant for hacking. She sets up Operation Overwatch with Blue. Grey is her psychic cat. Herbert is an earth elemental friend of Vicki’s. A very useful friend to have.
Belladonna “Blue” Parker was a blue-skinned empathic medtech with the Las Vegas Fire Department before the invasion. Now she’s an Echo Operative in Atlanta. And one of the pivots around which the revolution will swirl. She and Vicki are secretly allied with the CCCP. It’s that attitude of hers that keeps bringing Sera around.
Bulwark is a legit Echo Op and incredibly strong. He believes that there is no useless metahuman and takes on the misfits, Bulwark’s Misfits. Red Djinni was a thief and brings those successful skills to the team, his power is growing a second, almost impervious skin. Harmony is a spineless wimp who can enhance another operative’s powers. Scope‘s ability is to sight with her eyes, and Bruno Acrobat has the abilities of a circus acrobat enhanced with superpower. And, boy, does this guy bounce! Bulwark’s Misfits are one of the teams Vickie equips with her gadgets.
Flak, Motu (he can transform his skin) and Matai are Samoan brothers, Corbie transforms with big, black wings, Leader of the Pack interacts with dogs, and Silent Knight uses sound to disable or kill. Granny Aiken was a World War II vet (Pretty Sally back in the day) — she throws things with her mind. Little Dolly is five-foot-six with 48 DDs and she’s always packing. The list of the weapons she normally carries sounds like they weigh more than she does. Her superpower is intuitive marksmanship. Jamaican Blaze has some nice fire control. Spin Doctor is mentioned.
Corbie usually works with Handsome Devil, Einhorn, and Shakti. Speed Fiend is an Echo OpOne operative wearing a “Max Max, junkyard version of a salt-flat racer” — this boy can drive.
Alex Tesla is the leader of Echo. And, man, is he ever falling down on the job. He’s so freaked that he’s useless. His father is Nikola Tesla, one of the brains at Metis. Yankee Pride, a.k.a., YP, is second-in-command at Echo and very by-the-book. He’s also the public persona with his handsome American patriotic looks. Detective Ramona Ferarri is fed up with Tesla’s cowardice. The Ides of March are the precog writings of an autistic man, Matthew March. Their contents have Tesla cowering beneath his desk.
Seraphym is one of God’s angels and forbidden to interfere in man’s free will. Most can’t see her; a few will. She also feels the need to protect John Murdock for the part she senses he must play.
Kara Kane, a.k.a., Barbara Kronstein, is working as a stripper but can amplify sound, and she’s desperately in need of rescuing. Melisandre Gautier was discarded by Echo when she was too damaged mentally after an op went bad.
Sergeant Lawson commands a small National Guard squad protecting a nuclear power plant. Gilly, Jackson, and Fieldhouse are some of his men.
The janitor, a “cleaner”, is a government type with a very suspicious agenda.
Dominic Verdigris III is a multibillionaire, a sociopathic psychopath, and a super genius. The Lex Luthor of the Secret World Chronicle. He’s even got his own shark tank to tidy up those messy leftovers like Karamjit Bhandari. Khanjar is a metahuman, Verdigris’ chief of security, personal bodyguard, professional assassin, and his lover.
Thulian metahumans, a.k.a., Kriegers
Doppelgaenger can change himself to look like anyone. The Thulians use Death Spheres that are practically invincible flying machines using antigrav which flattens ANYthing underneath them to transport metal-clad troops, which the Death Sphere can also pick up via magnetic attraction.
Think of the Rebs as the bad guys from Mad Max. They run around on motorcycles and try to intimidate everyone. Bad Bowie is the first bad boy leader in World Divided. Rebel Yell sets up a pretty nasty ambush.
Metis is a hidden, “forbidden city of innovation”, a pure democracy filled with brilliant, terrified scientists. Rick Poitier, a.k.a., Mercurye, is their welcome prisoner. Nikola Tesla and Enrico Marconi are still alive, technically, but without much power.
Blacksnake is the evil twin to Echo. They also provide security, but they’re very comfortable destroying people to gain businesses and new employees, like Kip. Jack, a.k.a., Rancor, is the guy who betrayed Red in Invasion. And the new Blacksnake Commander.
The Cover and Title
It’s definitely a Baen cover with its comic graphics and intensely colored title. One of the Thulian wolves in the underground lair is snarling on the metal-tiled floor, swishing its nastily barbed tail.
The title doesn’t begin to explain the problems in this installment of the Chronicle. This is a World Divided into so many factions with most warring against the other.