The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun

by Christopher Anvil
Reviewed date: 2005 Oct 6
Rating: 3
282 pages
cover art

Synopsis: It has been two hundred years since nuclear armageddon and the newly-arisen America decides to flex its muscle by liberating western Europe from the grip of Soviet communism. Led by their democratically elected king Arakal, the Americans make a beachhead in France and set about freeing Europe.

Meanwhile, the Soviets are divided: the military bigwigs want to crush Arakal's invading force, but the powers-that-be opt for a more subtle solution. "This is not a purely military struggle," they say. "Trust us and the Americans will be totally defeated forever." Trusting the powers-that-be apparently means giving France and Britain to the Americans.

So it's a mystery. Why do the Americans press so hard to liberate allies they haven't seen in two centuries? Why do the Soviets seem intent on ceding Britain and France when they could easily repel the invaders?

Review: The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun starts off as a pedestrian war novel replete with such overused tropes as brilliant, resourceful Yankees outsmarting the bickering incompetent Russians. Just when I thought it could get no worse, it suddenly changed: the Americans were revealed as the incompetent warriors, and the Russians--who had seemed to be bumbling fools--had a secret plan all along. But that was just the first plot twist.

In the end, The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun is an interesting book but not well written. The plot twists make for an interesting story, but the foreshadowing is non-existent and thus the plot twists are just unfair tricks the author uses to keep the reader off balance. Any hack writer can make a plot twist; it takes a craftsman to make that plot twist fair to the reader. No such craftsmanship is present in The Steel, the Mist, and the Blazing Sun. But I liked the story anyway.

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