Officer-cadet - Rick Shelley In this time of my life, two things come to my mind: space and military. Hence, why I was attracted to this book.
Lon Nolan started his military career on Earth. But he left Earth's military for the Dirigent Mercenary Corps when the Earth military was converting to a glorified police force. In order to become a lieutenant, Lon must withstand his first battle...which could either leave him with lifetime experiences or an early grave.

What I Liked:
I wanted a book with military action and that is exactly what Rick Shelley delivers. He crisply delivers the background, just the right amount, and then launches into serious military action. Platoon and company movements, squad detachments, stealthy missions, all are given the red carpet treatment in this book.
The action, when present, is pretty intense. Shelley keeps you on edge, wondering how the situation will end up.

What I Did Not Like:
Perhaps this comment comes from taking a month to read a book and not the quality of the book itself, but I found the book rather boring. I really didn't have a clue why the teams were doing what they were doing, where they were trying to go or anything. I felt that much of the book was just detailing marching, moving troops, and being alert and very little actual battles (for a book told from a supposed soldier, it is amazing how much of it is just company movements and other higher officer details). A few battles occurred, but they weren't extraordinary in any way. Perhaps part of the confusion would have lessened had the book come with a map and a little more information on companies, battalions, etc.
But more importantly, I found the author's focus on one character very challenging. All but one section of the story is told from Lon's point of view. This may not be bad, but I felt that several times Lon is thrown into a situation that makes no sense for a man of his rank (Cadet) and was merely done so that the author could explain what was happening.
Furthermore, the character of Lon was impossible for me to associate with. He was distant, fairly unemotional, and rather perfect. As a cadet, he got to be involved with captains and colonels, his rather insignificant actions were applauded, and his knowledge of fighting was not consistent with the fact that he had never actually been in a battle before this one. I can understand Lon having book knowledge, but the knowledge I felt Lon possessed was far too advanced for someone straight out of the Academy.
The author has an irritating tendency to refer to characters by first and last name randomly. One minute it is Lon the next, it is Nolan. One minute Corporal Tebba Girana is referred as "Tebba" then as "Girana". And I should add this doesn't happen in dialogue (where it would make sense) but in the actual narration. I feel that the addition of a Dramatis Personae would have lessened my confusion.
Lastly, for a sci-fi military book, the sci-fi portion is really limited. Besides spaceships to transport to their next planet, trauma tubes (to give the author the miraculous ability to regenerate people to perfect or near-perfect health), and beamers (laser guns, I suppose), there is little in the book that makes this sci-fi. Very disappointing.

Dialogue/Sexual Situations/Violence:
Mild. Typical PG, maybe PG-13 quality.
The planet of Dirigent condones and encourages the use of prostitutes, who are described as being almost entirely naked. Further, in Lon's past when he was 12, he paid a 14 year-old girl to sleep with him. This situation, however, is less about sex, though, and more about the terribleness of the situation.
The entire book is about a war. However, a lot of the really gruesome details are avoided. People die. People are hurt. But minimal mention is made of the blood and guts of the situation.

I know I don't read as much as I used to, but to take a month to read a single book is pretty pathetic and I have a hard time believing it was solely because I have less time to read. The plot was kinda sluggish, Lon as a character was a turn-off, and the sci-fi element was so small as to hardly count. Two stars.