The Silent Warrior by L.E. Modesitt Jr
Warning: This review will contain spoilers for the previous book, Dawn for a Distant Earth.
The Silent Warrior is the second book in L.E. Modesitt Jr’s FOREVER HERO trilogy. Published in the late 1980s, this series is about a man named Gerswin who grew up in the harsh environment of the ruined Earth. He was picked up by the galactic empire, educated, and enlisted in their military. He has been a successful leader for the empire, but his real dream is to restore Earth to her former glory. At the end of the first book, Dawn for a Distant Earth (which you really must read to appreciate The Silent Warrior), we saw that Gerswin is even willing to break the law to force the empire to contribute the funds and equipment necessary to reclaim the Earth.
Because of his illegal actions at the end of Dawn for a Distant Earth, Gerswin has had to leave Earth in the hands of the Devil Kids he trained. The military would like to file him away somewhere safe and innocuous but, as you might guess, that doesn’t work and, once again, Gerswin shows the empire how he’s so much smarter and better than every other human in the galaxy.
But how will he be able to help Earth? The answer comes when someone dies and leaves him a ton of money and a secret research foundation. Gerswin hires an administrator who starts awarding grants to scientists who are trying to develop technologies that could be used to clean up Earth. Meanwhile, Gerswin uses the commercial applications from these technologies to get more money for the foundation. This goes on for many years while enemies try to thwart him.
After the environmental themes of Dawn for a Distant Earth, The Silent Warrior takes an unexpected turn. I was anticipating that the focus of the plot would be on Earth’s restoration, but I was mistaken. Instead, the emphasis is on Gerswin’s personal development as struggles to right some of the wrongs he sees in the military and in society. For example, he turns around a poorly performing military repair depot and takes on an entire guild of assassins. The narrative sometimes feels episodic and unfocused as Gerswin moves from one project or conflict to the next.
At first Gerswin is like a superhero — he’s strong, fast and clever, but self-deprecating. Women adore him and men are in awe of him. People cry when he gives speeches. Later, though, after some personal losses, his character darkens. Eventually he becomes a rogue vigilante who, in a Machiavellian manner, takes matters of justice and morality into his own hands. Will this lead him down a dark path? That is the big question.
I struggled to admire Gerswin as much as I think I was supposed to, even at the beginning when he was definitely a “hero.” He felt cold and distant to me. I also thought he made choices that didn’t make sense or that were too drastic for the situation — choices that served the plot better than they served Gerswin’s ultimate goals. Still, I enjoyed being surprised by what Modesitt did with this character and look forward to the resolution of Gerswin’s story.
Again, I listened to Tantor Audio’s version, read by Kyle McCarley. I have the same comments as I did for the previous novel. McCarley’s voices for some characters (especially women) are unpleasant, but other than that he does a great job with the narration of The Silent Warrior.
Yep, which is why I'm willing to give a sequel a shot
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