The Good, the Bad, and the Merc (The Revelations Cycle #8) By Chris Kennedy

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The Good, the Bad, and the Merc fills out the Four Horsemen Universe even more. You get to see more of the regular people who populate the universe, a couple of stories about the assassin race, Dupiks, as well as missions undertaken by some of the smaller human mercenary companies.

All of the stories are a great addition to the 4HU and a must-read for any fan. Kindle Edition This is the third and final (so far!) anthology for the Four Horseman Universe. This one is probably the best one so far. It's got excellent stories, and some of them lead onto books that are being released now, or are about to be released.
This universe is expanding at a rapid rate, and with a current release rate of at least one book a month, and possibly more, it's going to keep going for a long time. Kindle Edition
This is mostly the same material you'll find on my Amazon post.
If you read the review on Amazon, please click the 'helpful' button. I'm trying to recover from a rather harsh series of days starting in August and extending into November.

Close examination of my Amazon review reveals that I presented 10 'notable stories,' singled two out for exceptional praise, and said nothing about six. What's my justification for that?

It's all a matter of taste. None of those stories were awful; if they had been, I would have said so. It's certainly NOT a defect in the authors; I've read & reviewed work by most (if not all) of them in the past. Reading these six, today and yesterday, just didn't ring any bells for me. If any of the authors want to contact me to get any specifics, feel free, but I MIGHT not have anything to offer; it might be just an impression.

Reviewing anthologies is HARD. I couldn't review several of these short stories without giving away an important part of the plot, so sometimes, I just hinted. That being the case, I decided to limit my reviews to the stories I had the best reaction to. YMMV.

Now, here's the text of the four-star Amazon review:

I obtained this book through the Kindle Unlimited program.
As long as they keep writing books in this series, I will keep reading them. I like the fact that with the anthologies, we get to read the works of LOTS of authors, and I hope this is a trend that will continue. It might even help to bring back the short stories as published in the Golden Age, and hook new generations of 14 year olds.
Overall, this book seems grimmer to me than prior books. Lots more good guys get killed. Cliff hangers with unrevealed horror. That sort of thing.

Notable stories:

'The Beach,' by Phillip Wohlrab. It's good to see medics get some respect. I've wondered if the wonderworld of advanced technology and self-administered nanobots would leave any room for the field medic. The answer is YES, and an even greater need exists. Since the weapons are so deadly, an assault requires a LOT of medics. Everything has to be done right now, and too many are DRT. If we can get you stabilized and on the medevac, though, you are probably going to make it.

'Velut Luna,' by Chris Smith. I love this story, in every different set of clothes it wears. Snotty street kid, given a chance to do some good before they die or get sentenced for hard time. A family is forged out of the mild steel and hot flames. Particularly good scene here about the teaching taking place over slicing vegetables. I REALLY liked that scene!

'Keep the Home Fires Burning,' Jason Cordova. Tribalism in space, rotten intel, stupid team members, loyalty, and hope for the future of the clan. It's told in a series of flash-backs, but I had no problem following the story.

'Vvremya,' Mark Wandrey. Down-and-out team risks it all on one last throw of the dice. Some authors delight in doing horrible things to their characters. Is the Horrid Little Planet going to produce treasure? Make sure you read the fine print before you sign the contract !

'The Last Guardsman,' by Stephanie Osborne. He's the very last of his bloodline, but that's not a problem, because he just has this one tiny job left to do, and then he retires, marries, and has lots of kids. He's very mindful of the need to leave a legacy.

'Unto the Last - Stand Fast,' Robert E. Hampson. Unless I am mistaken, this story calls upon the memorable resistance of Swiss mercenaries who died protecting members of the French aristocracy in 1792 during the French Revolution. Somewhere around here, I have a picture of myself standing in front of the Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland. Beside the appeal of this aspect of the story, I liked the combination of humans and aliens into a more-or-less unified church, complete with schisms.

'Under The Skin,' Marisa Wolf. The Depik are a race of assassins. They have the ability to become transparent to all forms of detection. In fact, they are TOO perfect; like Superman, they need Kryptonite. That appears to be contained in their aggressive family structure, which appears to serve driving them apart, rather than uniting them. And, they are cat-like, at least in this: they like to play with their prey.

'Angels and Aliens,' John R Osborne. Pastor Jim wants to know about God, and how aliens fit in with people in God's creation. That could be a real problem for a mercenary company, but Jim also has an uncanny ability to read people, and thus provide comfort in the format they need. Is there room for a theological discussion in the middle of a firefight? I would argue that there is no better time to discuss the meaning of the universe. This was truly a superb story.

'Life,' Chris Kennedy. Zeke is a slave. He was captured during the first Earth mercenary wave, known as the Alpha Contracts, although Zeke never heard that term. Instead, he's been doing slave work. After a gladiatorial contest gets the attention of his new master, he gets to work on biological solutions to life and death. He's a little bit weird, though; decades of hard labor captivity will do that to you.

'Lessons,' by Kacey Ezell. To the best of my knowledge, Kacey Ezell finds it impossible to write a bad short story. In fact, she can't do mediocre, or even good. Everything of hers I've seen has been brilliant; she finds a way to put us into the person of the universe's most frightening and loathsome beasties, and makes them something that we want to buy as fluffy toys for our grandchildren. No, Eliott, don't pull on that string just yet. That makes her fangs grow, and she might bite you by accident. You can pull that string when you wear your welder's gloves, okay?' If I am not mistaken, this is another tale of the Depik race, the super assassins of the galaxy. In an attempt to weaken his rival, a semi-rogue Depik steals the newborn cub of his clan leader, and abandons her to die. Ezell makes us EXPERIENCE the physical and emotional pain the newborn feels at being abandoned. Instead of conveniently dying, however, the cub finds food, and a mentor. And she not only survives, she thrives. I don't know if the Depik have archived legends, but if so, there is likely a body of work dealing with the appearance of a savior/destroyer, who will transform the race into something unimaginable.

For one reason or another, these are the stories I found noteworthy. There are others that you may enjoy as well.

My one suggestion for improvement: include a Bestiary (or whatever term describes sentient aliens) with each volume of this series. I'm not obsessive enough to remember the characteristics of each race, just based on their name. My PREFERENCE would be a hypertext link whenever an alien race is on stage. And, if you REALLY wanted to blow us away, give us a picture along with the descriptions. And print up trading cards for sale. You KNOW there is game potential here, so you are going to have to do it sooner or later. Kindle Edition PLEASE don't let this be the last!

When Man-Kzin Wars was thought to be ended, it continued to expand to 14 books. Please allow the 4BY to go on and develop and expand and reach its full potential? I have learned to love this series and wish all of you the success you so richly deserve. Kindle Edition A good entry in the series that expands on the various facets of the Four Horsemen universe. It doesn't deviate far from the formula - that humans are the successful underdogs of a universe that wants them removed. It provides good entertainment but it would be nice to some plotline progression.

On a side note, the confusion of Deepik social structure comes to a head here as different examples of how that structure might be is given in the stories Kindle Edition

Even more authors and stories. Still the same bestselling universe.

It’s the Twenty-Second Century. Humanity has taken its first steps into the galaxy, and we’ve found ourselves in a vast playground of alien races, environments, and cultures. As the newest players on the universal stage, though, our position is readily apparent—we’re at the bottom of the food chain.

Welcome back to the Four Horsemen universe, where only a willingness to fight and die for money separates Humans from the majority of the other races. While some of the stories inside deal with mercenaries, others introduce readers to the other guilds, organizations, and races that make up the landscape of the Four Horsemen universe, as well as providing additional insight into the characters of the mainline novels. What’s it like to be a medic on the beach or to learn how to kill from a mother not your own? Come find out!

Edited by bestselling authors and universe creators Mark Wandrey and Chris Kennedy, “The Good, the Bad, and the Merc” includes sixteen all-new stories in the Four Horsemen universe by a variety of bestselling authors—and some you may not have heard of…yet. In a galaxy this big, you’ll find that some of the races are good and others are bad, but only the best are mercs!

Inside you’ll find:
Foreword by David Drake
Argonaut by Kal Spriggs
Shell Game by Terry Mixon
The Last Dragon by Terry Maggert
Hero of Styx by T. Allen Diaz
The Beach by Philip Wohlrab
Velut Luna by Christopher L. Smith
Keep the Home Fires Burning by Jason Cordova
Vvremya by Mark Wandrey
The Last Guardsman by Stephanie Osborn
Unto the Last–Stand Fast by Robert E. Hampson
The Demon of Ki-A by Eric S. Brown
Under the Skin by Marisa Wolf
Inked by Mark Wandrey
Angels and Aliens by Jon R. Osborne
Life by Chris Kennedy
Lessons by Kacey Ezell The Good, the Bad, and the Merc (The Revelations Cycle #8)


Great tails!!

Leave you wanting more as it ends. Hope there will be more much more!! Can’t wait to see what comes next!!! Kindle Edition I'm normally pretty ambivalent about short story collections and seldom rate them higher than a 3. 4 if they are awesome. In this case, I'm throwing a 5 out there because the individual quality of each of the stories was fantastic as a whole, and kept me turning pages throughout. That's something that only a good novel does for me most of the time.

Well done! Kindle Edition I enjoyed all the stories; it's fun to get different POVs in the 4HU. My favorites were The Last Dragon (Maggert), Hero of Styx (Diaz), Velut Luna (Smith), Vvremya (Wandrey), The Last Guardsman (Osborn), Unto the Last Stand Fast (Hampson), Under the Skin (Wolf), Angels and Aliens (Osborne), and Lessons (Ezell). Kindle Edition i really enjoyed some of the stories in this book and some were on well lets just get this story done Kindle Edition A collection of short stories set in the Four Horsemen shared universe.

Kindle Edition