The IX by Anrew.P.Weston
Soldiers from across several different timezones, amongst them an entire Roman legion and an army of U.S soldiers from a period during the Wild West, are all snatched away at the brink of death and transported half-way across the Galaxy.
To fight in a war on an alien planet, billions of light years away, that is currently under siege and whose inhabitants are in danger of being wiped out. They have been selected by a vast Artificial Intelligence known as The Architect and are considered to be that planets last, best hope...but all is not as it seems.
They are the ninth group of warriors to be selected after all of their predecessors have failed before them.
They are the IX.
When I started this book, I really wasn't sure what to expect. The story goes into some detail describing all of the various timezones our protagonists are taken from and by the look of it, the author has really done his research. I really felt I was there, walking amongst these characters in their own unique periods of history. It is only later, when the action moves to the planet of Arden where the rest of the book takes place, that I began to feel a little bit overwhelmed and more than a little out of my depth as the main part of the plot took over.
This is proper, serious, hardcore science-fiction and not for the casual fan. Weston's writing and the story he presents here has a lot in common with such classics as Arthur.C.Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama series or Greg Bear's Anvil of Stars, exploring similar subjects and themes - namely how, even far removed from their original place in time, humanity still struggles to get on and unite together, even in the face of extreme adversity.
There were while moments where even I, a long-time fan of such epic and grandstanding novels as those already mentioned, found myself almost skim-reading and not entirely sure what exactly was going on but confident that all would be explained in time.
I tend to enjoy stories that are more character-driven and this I almost felt was not the case in this book. It felt a little plot-heavy and once they were removed from their time, I found little to distinguish one character from another.
All this makes it sound like I didn't enjoy the book, but I did. I just found it a little long-winded in places unfortunately and that there was sometimes a bit too much going on - eecially when you begin seeing the war from the perspective of the alien horde that are the main threat in this book.
It was a pleasant enough read, and I certainly couldn't put it down - as I was so eager to find out what happened next, so it's a win from that respect - but I don't think I would read it again which, for me, marks the difference between a really good book and a really great one.
I wanted to give this 4* but really didn't think it quite deserve it, so instead I have given it a 3* on the understanding that really, it is more of a 3 1/2.
I have another of this author's books to read and have high hopes for that one, as I did for this before I started it.
Like I say, it's not that it's bad, but you DO need to have a bit of dedication to see this through to the end....