Title: Spoil of War
Author: Helena Maeve
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Release Date: February 25, 2017
Genre(s): Scifi, M/M/M
Page Count: 50
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.0 stars out of 5
One man’s prize is another’s nightmare.
When Briar’s partner Kai returns from the Federation’s latest skirmish with a handsome prisoner in tow, Briar is both envious and wary. It is common knowledge that the tribespeople of Ganymede are violent brutes who delight in murdering and enslaving their enemies, and Dallan can be no different.
As an officer with the Federation’s propaganda machine, Briar has produced plenty of material to substantiate the need to wage war in the asteroid belt. Kai, for his part, has slayed many enemies while on active duty and watched just as many of his friends perish in combat.
For a foe to save rather than end his life is unusual in the extreme. Sparing him the horrors of a prison camp seems like a fair exchange, even if the only alternative he can offer is thraldom.
Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released as part of the Brothers in Arms anthology with Pride Publishing.
Ah blurbs…love them, hate them.
The problem with short stories is they can be difficult to condense without spoiling the story. The blurb does a decent summary and I’ll just add that Kai, returning from battle, brings back Dallan as a “spoil of war”. This comes as a huge surprise to Briar, who takes this turn of events less than gracefully and takes it upon himself to rid himself of this interloper.
I enjoyed this short story with a few caveats:
I thought this could have benefited from being longer. I think the world building would have been stronger for it. I don’t know if this was the authors intent, but I was getting whiffs of an almost “1984” or “Fahrenheit 451” society, which I haven’t seen in my scifi in ages, especially when so many authors are writing about dystopia society’s. Even so, I think there was enough here to make this story longer.
I would also have liked to have seen the three men’s stories more fleshed out (tehehe, no pun intended). We know some of Brier’s background, Dallan has spent his life in space, but I really didn’t get a feel for Kai. I think seeing some interaction between Kai and Dallan prior to returning to Mars could have added a lot to the three men’s connection.
It’s mentioned toward the end of the story that Kai bungled how he presented Dallan to Brier, and there’s another spot I would like to have seen elaborated upon. Kai brings a prisoner of war into their apartment and they leave him in the living room while they go boink like little bunnies. This would have been a great spot to bring to the front Brier’s resentment and discomfort.
My last small issue was some of the formatting – I had trouble with some of the dialog changes and who was speaking. This *might* have been how it was showing up on my e-reader, but even with re-reading paragraphs, I had trouble tracking the characters.
But, overall, I DID enjoy this short story. I enjoyed the background on Mars, I liked the “1984” noir with a modernized feel whether it was intended or not, and Brier’s conflicting feelings kept everything grounded.