15 May 2019

Book Review: Northern Fury - H-Hour by Bart Gauvin and Joel Radunzel

Last week I had to do a bit of air travel for work.  When I know I'll be spending several hours in a fairly small plane (in this case a Saab 340) I tend to download a new book to make the whole thing a little more bearable.  Fortunately for me I knew Northern Fury had just been released on the Amazon Kindle Store - so I hoped I was in for a treat.

I feel like there are a lot of parallels between Northern Fury and it's famous (in these circles anyway) predessor, Red Storm Rising.  Both books have a fairly grand scope.  Whilst focusing on specific people (quite a few, like RSR) doing specific things, these things are happening in several locations across the globe, mostly in this book Russia (or a resurgent USSR), Norway and the United States in the case of this book.

When Tom Clancy and Larry Bond wrote RSR, they gamed out many of the scenarios - specifically the naval actions - using Mr Bond's Harpoon ruleset to test out various hypothesis.  My understanding was they went with the results of the actions as they played out in the games.

In the case of Northern Fury Bart Gauvin and Joel Radunzel primarily used a computer game "Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations" to game out various actions.  I'd guess primarily air actions, but some smaller naval actions in this particular book.  I think this lends the book an excellent air of authenticity.

Speaking of authenticity, both authors are current officers in the Canadian and US military's (Army).  I guess that doesn't always make a difference (Tom Clancy anyone) but it certainly helps in books like The Third World War & Untold Story (General Sir John Hackett), Team Yankee (Harold Coyle), Red Army (Ralph Peters), the Red, Black & Blue Effect (Harvey Black).  The authors mention many of these books in their foreward.

I'm not going to go into what happens in the book.  I don't want to give anything away as I think you need to be a little bit "unaware" so you can be caught by the surprises that happen in the book.  The authors have their own website and blog here and they provide a brief overview here.  The website also has a quite a bit of useful information on it re WARPAC and NATO forces focussing now on Norway which is nice.  Their blog has more interesting bits and pieces like some of the bits that got cut from the novel.

So what did I think of the book?  Basically I loved it!  Gauvin and Radunzel have come up with a unique and quite believable setting, a few years after the Cold War novel standard date range and it really works.  They link in several other well known events, like the winter Olympics in a very cool way - so I was super impressed.

I enjoyed the characters, the research is obvious - I do wonder if either of the authors have traveled/worked in Norway as that all felt pretty real.  The vehicle, aircraft, helicopter, weaponry descriptions all felt accurate without feeling laboured.  There is no sentences like "... he carefully sighted his 7.62mm Kongsberg V├ąpenfabrikk AG3 battle rifle at the Soviet VDV paratrooper who had just slide of the side of the still moving BMD-1 (Boyevaya Mashina Desanta) airborne mechanised assault vehicle, whilst carrying his 5.45mm RPK-74 squad light machine-gun."  Thank goodness!

The worst thing about the book is that it finished...  Beware that unlike RSR this is not a complete story in one book.  It really is about the lead up to war and then the first few hours of the war.  There is much yet to come and I want to read about it!  I hope the authors do well enough from this publication to continue to be motivated to write the rest of their story.  I for one will snap up each book as it comes out.  I can honestly say that in my opinion, this book ranks up there with the best of the books of the genre and I can't wait for the next one.