Review: The Pact

The Pact

pactcover

Robert Patrick Lewis’ The Pact is the tale of Special Forces operators representing the only viable defense against a Russian-Chinese-Iranian invasion of the United States. The good news about this book is that Lewis is a Special Forces veteran who brings his knowledge to it. The bad news about this book is that Lewis is a Special Forces veteran who brings his biases to it.

The plot is the same kind of basic invasion novel plot that was old when Teddy Roosevelt was young. After the EVIL LIBERAL GUN GRABBERS have had their way with the US, the enemy alliance swoops in with computer attacks and unconventional warfare that naturally goes off without a hitch, save for the intervention of the special forces vets who’ve planned and built the lairs and stockpiled the equipment needed (against the advice of their nagging wives, of course). Then they fight back with the aid of a Freemason counter-conspiracy.

The first problem is that the action in this book is too realistic for its own good. I can’t blame a genuine veteran for writing what he knows, but come on. Axis Of Evil invasions and Freemason-operated super-bunkers do not exactly go well with detailed, nominally realistic operations. It also has a lot of “have your cake and eat it too”, such as one scene where it’s mentioned how hard it is to shoot down a helicopter with an unguided weapon-but oh look, they did it anyway.  Finally, realism or not, it isn’t the best written.

The second and bigger problem is that the main character is totally insufferable. He spends the entire first-person book monologing repeatedly about how awesome special forces are and how awesome he is. Repeatedly and constantly. It had the opposite effect on me, giving the impression of an arrogant swashbuckler who’d be foolishly overconfident if not for plot shields. The scene where the heroes find a former EVIL LIBERAL GUN GRABBER politician turned prisoner and execute her while smiling didn’t really help matters either. The icing on the cake is when the main character turns out to have the same name as the author. Really.

And those plot shields are there, from the “conveniently lucky” (the enemy neglecting flank protection) to the blatant (an M2 Bradley falling right into their laps). It’s a problem I’ve noticed in, of all things, some of the more out-there modules in Twilight 2000. If the mechanics/style is supposed to be realistic and grounded but the plot calls for the protagonists to do extraordinary things, you need a lot of pure contrivances for them to succeed. It’s a very tough tightrope to walk, especially when the premise is stretched to the level it is here.

Even by the standards of the “invasion novel”, there’s better works in the genre out there than this one. I’m not going to say it’s impossible to mix the concept of a Jerry Ahern novel and the rigorous execution of say, a Duffer’s Drift-style work like The Defense of Hill 781. But it would require a considerably better author than the one who wrote The Pact.

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