Customer Reviews of Paying the Piper (Hammer's Slammer's)
A young lieutenant finds himself in the middle of a hot war
David Drake's Paying The Piper presents a new 'Hammer's Slammers' novel centered around mercenaries and war. A young lieutenant finds himself in the middle of a hot war on an alien world in this story of war for pay.
This is Drake's latest Hammer's Slammers book. He does a pretty good job with it. Like many of his Slammer's books it seems to be composed of novellas. In this case it almost seems like three separate short stories that he either wrote as one larger story or wove together after the fact. He even repeats things in the second 'chapter' that seems to assume you didn't read the first. Overall it is an interesting story if not particularly deep. The focus is definitely on the action and not the politics in this one. The ending was a tad cheesy. If you like the Slammers you'll like this one as well.
Thoughtful view of a mercenary company
The planet was rich--at least before they brought in the mercenaries--and the disagreement over a puny few percentage points in loading fees at the local spaceport. But that was enough to let the locals invite in mercenary soldiers including Hammer's Slammers. And once the Slammers are in a conflict, they follow through. How they follow through may not be pretty--and may not be what the governments who invited them in intended, but they follow the money and their contracts, not some abstract ideal of good. After all, it wasn't them who started the war--they simply intend to end it.
PAYING THE PIPER follows the path of Lieutenant Arne Huber from initial landing on Plattner's World to the war's wrapup. Getting there requires Huber to fight across the planet, facing a variety of local militias (hardly worth fighting), and experienced mercenary companies. Sometimes, though, it seems like the enemy is within the nations that hired him. And sometimes, it even seems that the white mice of Hammer's police and intelligence group is the real enemy. But it's up to Huber to find a balance that leaves him loyal to contract, his men, and his unit (although not necessarily in that order).
Author David Drake doesn't delve especially deep into Huber's character, but he does give Huber enough detail to make him sympathetic and interesting to the reader. And Drake's analysis of the military is largely small unit and tactical rather than strategic. But Drake keeps the action rolling, sending Huber from one deadly firefight to the next with virtually no respite.
Although Huber and Hammer's Slammers are the heros and 'goodguys' of the story, Drake doesn't attempt to romanticize war or the military. Most of Huber's men and women are killers, pure and simple. In many cases, they kill when they really don't have to and when the killing serves no useful military purpose. Worse, Hammer command doesn't especially care whether it is supporting properly elected officials or helping those elected through voter fraud. They're there to get the job done. For me, this darker approach to the military future is interesting and timely. By the time the battle is over, everyone is a loser. And Drake doesn't even attempt to persuade the reader that all of this killing has been for a noble purpose.
If you're looking for an exciting military action SF adventure, with just a touch of cynical realism, it's hard to go wrong with PAYING THE PIPER.
Always a pleasure to see the Slammers in action
Yet another excellent addition to Drake's "Hammer's Slammers" series. The author has been in an Armored Cavalry Regiment (as have I), and he has been in combat, and it shows in the quality of the action. Personally I find the writing to be quite good, with vivid combat scenes and the occasional dark humor. Often his theme/message entails the hard decisions faced by soldiers in the field. These are decisions that those who have never been in harm's way often find difficult to understand, and which the politician's responsible for putting those soldiers there certainly did not intend, but nonetheless were inevitable.
A side note for purists: there is "combined arms", but no "air support" in his future, since powerful directed energy weapons that shoot line-straight and line-of-sight for 40km make any aircraft that doesn't absolutely hug the surface suicidally vulnerable. This is a story of small units within a Regiment (@5000 personnel) primarily containing both heavy tanks and lighter reconnaisance vehicles, as well as infantry/ artillery/ engineers/ other support