As mentioned in previous posts, Scribd has an excellent selection of Battletech novels. However they are somewhat out of sequence as I’ve discussed earlier and this book which I think should be the first or at the least one of the earlier titles, is considered #24 in the Legends imprint.
Book #1 in their consideration is Wolves on the Border which I shall talk about in a future post. I could see why they consider this #1 as a portion of the story takes place in 3023 … this is a very small piece though. Decision at Thunder Rift however is entirely set in 3024 which I believe warrants its inclusion at an earlier stage.
This title covers the founding of the Grey Death Legion – a famous Inner Sphere Mercenary Unit – by Grayson Death Carlyle. Carlyle is nothing more than a boy when his fathers mercenary regiment is destroyed by traitors and sabotage.
Forced to surive on a world that has become hostile to offworlders and without a mech to his name, Carlyle needs to learn how to survive. When the forces that attacked his father set their sites on the local cities and towns, Carlyle comes to the determination that even without a mech he can still defend the people.
When he joins forces with local militia to attack and kill a Wasp, Carlyle is able to rally the defenders even further. Driving off another Wasp, he manages to capture a Locust and its pilot – Lori Kalmar. This victory propels Carlyle into the limelight and he is hailed a hero by all and sundry.
Forced by the situation to come up with a plan to push the raiders away, Carlyle coopts Lori and trains a ragtag team of infantry anti-mech specialists to take the battle to the raiders.
The betrayal that initially plagued Carlyle while his father was the leader continue to plague him however as his force is trapped and ambushed. Managing to turn the trap around on the bandit forces, Carlyle escapes with his fathers Shadowhawk. With his forces almost destroyed however, Carlyle has limited options available to him when Kuritan forces under the command of the Red Duke land.
The Kuritans quickly “subjugate” the bandits leaving the citizens of the planet to believe that they are the their saviours. With Carlyle captured and imprisoned, it looks like everything is lost.
Lori however believes in Carlyle and is unwilling to let him rot in jail or in the hands of Duke Rikol. Breaking him out of his cell with Locust, Carlyle manages to once again regain control of his Shadowhawk and a running battle ensues.
Carlyle eventually escapes to the Thunder Rift – a series of caverns where his force manage to hold off the attacking Kuritans. Fortunately for Carlyle he has an ace in the hole and the arrival of Steiner forces end the stalemate.
As the story progresses Grayson Death Carlyle continues to grow into and develop his own character and style. It’s a good introduction to the Battletech universe as it gives a brief overview of the current political situation and history of the Inner Sphere without getting bogged down in the details. Mechs are mentioned with descriptions so that they easy to visualize and while later books actually include brief black and white sketches of the Mechs, there is enough detail here to know what they are capable of.
The underlying plot itself is somewhat overcomplicated and convuluted in all honesty but it’s a good way to introduce some key characters that will carry forward for a few books and story arcs. Similarly the politics on Trellwan and the local lords and ladies are a bit transparent in their plots.
These small negatives aside, it was a good start. If you don’t have a Scribd membership, I highly recommend that you consider one. For a fairly nominal fee you can access new and old books and audio books.