BOOK REVIEW: The
Crimson Deathbringer, by Sean Robins
Rated five stars out of five by reviewer Iris Chacon. #BooksGoSocial #CrimsonDeathbringer I purchased this ebook, and this is my honest review.
The year is 2047, and Jim Harrison, famous fighter pilot, has written a best-selling memoir of his exploits in the war for a United Earth.
Now, an evil dictator has taken over the U.E. government, and Jim’s former war buddies are part of the Resistance, trying to restore democracy to the world.
Jim and his warrior friends, Kurt and Allen, don’t yet know they (and Jim’s girlfriend, Liz) are about to be conscripted into a third conflict they don’t even know about: Earth is about to be invaded by the Xortaags.
The Xortaags, whose home
planet is dying, have conquered and colonized around a hundred planets, and Earth is their next target. Their fleet of deadly fighter craft are led…
Well, not really, but this should tell you all you need to know about me and my writing style.
I’m a huge Marvel (plus Game of Thrones, Star Trek AND Star Wars) fan, which shows since my novel is loaded with pop culture references. If you are a sci-fi fan (I assume that you are, otherwise what are you doing here?) you will enjoy them tremendously. I even went full Deadpool in my first draft and broke the fourth wall multiple times, until my editor told it was distracting and kept taking her out of the moment. Shame. Those fourth-wall breaks were hilarious. Still, I can guarantee a few laugh-out-loud moments. Case in point: The “good” aliens in my novel are a race of pranksters, whose main goal in life is pulling other people’s legs (They have four legs, hence the slight change in…
I really am not a blogger. I just wanted to share a few excerpts of my book and this is the only way. Unfortunately, this means you are going to meet my main characters without them being properly introduced first, but on the other hand this gives you an idea about my writing style. The first two passages are straight from the book’s blurb (check it out at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PQVGD81) , and the third is the end of Chapter One, which obviously contains a spoiler.
1- This is when Jim and Liz go home and find Kurt (Max is Jim’s car):
We returned home at around two AM. I was tipsy,
and with Liz pressing up against me and kissing my neck, I didn’t realize we’d
arrived until Max said, “Jim, we’re in front of your home.”
I owned a one-story Colonial house in Nassau
County. Nothing too fancy, but not too shabby either. I got out of the car and
walked through my small garden with its wintering rose bushes that looked like
wooden candelabras to the front door with Liz holding my arm. I said, “Cordelia,
A soft, feminine voice said, “Welcome home, Jim.”
The door of my house opened. We entered the
living room, laughing and kissing each other. Then, a faint smell of expensive
cologne hit my nostrils, and I found a tall, blond man sitting on my favorite
sofa. He had piercing gray eyes and a completely unfashionable goatee, and he was
wearing a long black trench coat. There were not one, but two freaking
lethal-looking machine pistols next to him on the coffee table.
There were a few small blood stains on his shirt,
my sofa and the floor.
Liz let out a tiny shriek. I put my arm around her
shoulder and said, “Don’t worry. Everything’s fine.”
“Hi, Jim. It’s been a while. Merry Christmas,” said
My heartbeat hadn’t returned to normal, but
pretending that it was an ordinary visit, I answered with an air of
nonchalance, “Hi, Kurt. So nice of you to drop by. Just a few days ago I
thought splashing some blood on my sofa would give it that gritty, rebel look.”
Yep. Kurt von der Hagen, the legendary
freedom-fighter, tyranny-battling rebel, ruthless terrorist, deadly
super-assassin, and number one on every security agency’s most-wanted list was
sitting right there in the middle of my freaking living room. Right when I was
about to propose. King Kong wrench, thrown.
Liz looked at me with wide eyes. “Why’re you two
talking like you know each other?”
“Sweetheart, meet Kurt, whom I’m sure you
recognize from all the wanted-dead-or-dead posters,” I answered. “Newsflash: He’s
my best friend. We’ve known each other since we were in elementary school.
Kurt, this is my girlfriend, Elizabeth.”
Kurt stood up, grimacing with pain and clutching
his side, and in perfect Spanish—which I could mostly understand but couldn’t
speak—said, “It’s a pleasure meeting you, Elizabeth. May I say you look
Liz looked lost for words, but one didn’t become
an acrobatic pilot/stunt woman without fast reactions and the ability to think
under pressure. “Charmed, I’m sure”—she said in English—”but in case you haven’t
noticed, you’re bleeding all over our furniture. Let’s patch you up, and then
you can tell me what Public Enemy Number One’s doing in our living room.”
I snorted. “Public Enemy Number One? Huh! John
Dillinger ain’t got nothing on Kurt. Mr. Super Assassin eats the likes of him
“With all these movie references, I confess half
of the time I have no idea what Jim’s talking about,” Kurt said, “but I can
already tell the two of you are perfect for each other.”
“You’re ‘best friends’ with someone who doesn’t watch movies?”
“It’s a very long story,” I said.
Liz had some medical training and had dealt with
many wounds and injuries in her career. She went to our bedroom to bring her
bag of medical tools.
“Cordelia?” I said.
“What’s going on outside?”
“Nothing much. All quiet,” she said.
“Did anyone follow Kurt?”
“Not so far as I can see, and you know I can see
“Full lockdown mode,” I said.
Half-inch steel sheets covered all my housed
windows and doors. The only way someone could enter now was using explosives.
“This won’t stop SCTU, you know,” said Kurt.
“True. But Cordelia can see them coming, and it’ll
give us more time to figure out what to do,” I said.
Liz came back to the living room. Kurt took off
his trench coat. I got my shoulder under his arm and helped him walk to our
dining table and lie on it. Liz slashed Kurt’s shirt with a pair of scissors.
She unwrapped the piece of cloth around Kurt’s waist and examined the bullet
wound on his side. I tried to look over her shoulder.
“Give me some room,” she told me. A couple of
minutes later she added, “It isn’t bad, but you’re losing too much blood. Hold
She debrided the wound and started patching Kurt
“Before I forget, Cordelia?” I said. “Aren’t you
supposed to inform me if an armed man tries to enter my house?”
She asked with concern in her voice, “Jim, are
you all right? Have you had brain trauma recently? Do want me to call a doctor?”
Much like her owner, Cordelia was a wise-ass. Liz
couldn’t stifle a laugh.
Kurt flinched. “Don’t make me laugh. It hurts too
Cordelia continued, “This is Kurt, your oldest
friend. He’s been in this house 523 times already. The last time he was here he
was covered in blood and heavily armed too, and he was accompanied by Allen,
who was carrying a grenade launcher.”
Liz laughed. “What? No bazooka?”
2- This is from the first battle between the Akakies and the Xortaags (Varina is Tarq’s daughter. Maada is the Xortaags’ commander of the fleet, and Invincible is the Akakies’ flagship):
The Xortaag fleet attacked three days later.
Aboard the Akaki command ship, Tarq touched the
holographic display in front of him and zoomed on Invincible. With
bulging eyes, he watched a crimson single-seat space fighter leading a few
dozen similar but dark gray craft evade Invincible’s weapons and hammer
her with energy bolts, causing dazzling explosions. Tarq gulped and clutched at
his chest. The Xortaags’ small space fighters were a lot more maneuverable and
had much better weaponry than the Akakies’ intelligence, gathered by Tarq’s own
agency, suggested. That triggered an ominous realization, given force by his
recognition of who was piloting the blood-red vessel. Tarq knew that pilot.
Everyone in the universe knew him.
He slumped onto his seat and buried his head in his
hands. Everything he thought he knew about the enemy fleet’s capabilities and
tactics was wrong. He had been deceived. No, he had been a fool.
Even so, this is impossible, thought Tarq. Invincible was
capable of unleashing a world-killing array of heavy weaponry. A thousand space
fighters could not possibly be a match for her.
It was as if the pilot of the crimson space fighter heard
Tarq’s thoughts and decided to prove him wrong. The enemy vessel spit a deadly
stream of laser bolts at Invincible, bringing about more explosions.
Several sections of the starship were in flames.
The Invincible lit the space with countless
white-hot energy bolts, and filled it with thousands of missiles. The Xortaag
vessels, and especially the devilish blood-red space fighter, zigzagged through
the missiles and energy bolts with such skill that it made Tarq’s blood boil
with jealousy. One of the starship’s
blaster cannons came to life. It missed the targets and annihilated one of
their own fleet’s vessels instead.
What is the point of building the most advanced weapons
in the galaxy if the people using them are so damned incompetent?
Biting his fingers, Tarq pictured Varina sitting at Invincible’s
helm, desperately fighting for her life. He cursed under his breath and asked
his assistant, “How did the Xortaag ships suddenly became so powerful? I
personally observed their last two campaigns…Oh!”
Tarq paused for a second. “We saw what they wanted us to
Tarq’s assistant, Lieutenant Barook, said, “My thoughts
exactly.” He pointed at the red fighter. “It seems you have finally met your
Staring at the crimson space fighter with burning hatred
in his eyes, Tarq murmured, “General Maada! I should have known defeating him
would not be easy.”
The contents of the file Tarq himself had prepared about
General Maada flashed through his mind. Maada was the Xortaags’ legendary
warrior and military genius. The mere sight of his crimson space fighter sent
shivers down the collective spine of space-faring species throughout the
galaxy. As the commander of the fleet, there was no need for Maada to lead the
attack personally. He could have stayed safely in Xortaag’s command ship and
directed the assault from there. Instead, the General always deputized
implementing strategy and coordinating the fleet to others and rushed to the
frontline. Under Maada’s command, the Xortaags had conquered around a hundred
planets, including a few far more technologically advanced civilizations,
exterminating all their inhabitants, killing billions of sentient beings.
Underestimating the general had proved to be a fatal
“Stop biting your fingers. You are going to leave blood stains
everywhere,” said Barook.
Tarq looked down at his hands, and sure enough, he saw
dark blue blood drops— drawn by his sharp teeth—on his fingertips. He wiped his
fingers on the top part of one of his four legs and kept staring at his station’s
holographic display, desperately hoping for a miracle to save his daughter.
A frightened voice announced, “Here they come again!”
The crimson space fighter and its wingmen attacked Invincible,
laser cannons blazing. Maada’s vessel dived at high speed, pulled its nose up
at the last moment, and did a firing run close to the starship, hitting her
repeatedly from bow to stern. The gray space fighters followed it, raining
deadly laser bolts on the Akaki ship. Energy bolt after energy bolt tore into
her, scoring devastating hits. As soon as the Xortaag vessels veered off, a
massive ball of multihued fire engulfed Invincible, and in a flash, she
blew up into millions of minute glowing shards shimmering in dark space.
Five thousand sailors, vaporized. Just like that.
The thought of his daughter made Tarq feel his hearts
were about to give out. His only child, who could not wait to grow up, was
dead. Varina, who loved his pranks, and who never got tired of listening to the
stories of how her father had saved the galaxy multiple times, was gone, and it
was Tarq’s fault.
The command ship was under
attack. Someone shouted, “Brace for impact!” The vessel shook violently. Tarq
did not pay any attention. He stared at what was left of Varina’s ship, and
overwhelming grief cut through him like a thousand sharp knives. Trying to use
physical pain to block his mental anguish, he grabbed his two front antennae
and pulled them so hard the agony made his vision blur. That worked. For a
His PDD beeped. It was a video message from Varina. With
terror in her eyes, she said, “Father, we did our best,” and the message cut
His daughter’s last thought before being murdered by the
Xortaags was how she had disappointed him.
The thought made his gut churn. He twisted his antennae
as hard as he could. The severe pain pushed him to the brink of losing
3- And this is how Chapter One ends (Spoiler alert!):
Liz, having changed into jeans and t-shirt and
somehow looking even sexier, joined us for breakfast. She’d just started
sipping her morning coffee when Kurt said, “It’s time for me to go.”
Liz and I protested at the same time. “Absolutely
not! Are you crazy? In the state you are in, you’ll faint before taking five
steps. You need rest. It’s not safe out there.”
Kurt looked at the two of us in surprise. “I
expected Jim to react in this way, but I must say I’m touched by how much
Elizabeth cares about me, given that we’ve just met.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” I said. “It isn’t
actually about you. Liz is sort of obsessed with doing the right thing.”
Liz laughed and punched me in the arm.
“I really have to go. I’ve set up a time and
place to meet up with other members of the Resistance. If I stay any longer, I’ll
lose the chance to contact them for a while.”
I had no idea if he was telling the truth or
wanted to avoid jeopardizing us any further.
Kurt put on his black trench coat, holstered both
his machine pistols and shook my hand. “Thanks for everything. Maybe next time
we meet we won’t be living under Zheng’s dictatorship.”
I answered, “Who knows? If Zheng does go, maybe
there’ll be another President von der Hagen in office.”
He hugged Liz. “It was a pleasure meeting you.
Jim told me about your charity organization. I’ll be making a hefty donation
soon unless you don’t accept a terrorist’s money.”
Elizabeth beamed and flashed her dazzling smile. “Be
Kurt smiled back. “Careful is my middle name. How
do you think I’ve survived this long? Don’t worry. They’ll never catch me.”
“Jim?” said Cordelia.
“Something’s wrong,” she said. “I’ve just found
out someone has been tampering with one of my external cameras’ feed.”
“Which camera?” I asked.
“The one covering the front door.”
With a deafening blast, my house’s door exploded
inwards. Dust and smoke filled half of the living room.
A cold chill grabbed my heart, and I was rooted
to the spot for a second.
Kurt didn’t miss a beat. He pushed Liz behind a
sofa, shouted, “Jim! Get down,” and drew both his weapons. Two black-clad SCTU
soldiers rushed in. Kurt shot them both. The sound of gunshots was
We’re so screwed.
I jumped behind the sofa where Liz was hiding.
She grabbed my hand and despite the fear in her eyes calmly asked, “What’re we
going to do?
My ears still ringing because of the explosion, I
scanned the room, keeping my head down. Kurt hit another soldier. His
ammunition couldn’t last forever. He took cover behind another sofa, the one
that had his blood on it. Several bullets ripped through the sofa. It wasn’t
having a very good day.
All the stories I’d heard about the torture and
abuse people suffered in Zheng’s prisons rushed back to me, sending a chill
down my spine. The image of Liz in a prison jumpsuit hit me like an eighty-ton
tank. A woman as free-spirited and full of life as Liz wouldn’t survive long in
prison, and that was if the SCTU soldiers didn’t shoot us first. The last
thought made me shudder. I shielded Liz with my body, thinking feverishly,
trying to find a way out of this mess or at least a way to save Liz.
Someone threw a gas grenade into the room.
I had an air force-issued M-25 handgun with two
extra magazines in the closet in my bedroom. There were more soldiers
surrounding us than the number of bullets I had, but anything was better than
lying here in my living room waiting to die. Plus, if Kurt and I were both
armed, there was a small chance we could create an opportunity for Liz to save
herself. That way, at least there was hope.
A thought popped up in the back of my head. “Hope’s
a dangerous thing.”
Oh, shut up!
I looked in Kurt’s direction to see if he could
cover me while I ran to the bedroom to get my gun. He was looking at me. In his
gray eyes, through the smoke, dust, and gas, I saw remorse, guilt, and the
decision not to be captured alive by his enemies.
My blood running cold, I shouted,” Kurt! No!”
Kurt stood up, sorrow clouding his futures. He
gave me a sad half-smile, dusted his trench coat off, sent me a small salute
with one of his machine pistols, and with fire bursting out of both his guns’
barrels, started walking towards the door.
I hesitated for a second, then I ground my teeth
and ran out of my hiding spot, planning to tackle Kurt and stop him from
committing suicide-by-cop. A hail of bullets hit the floor inches from me. I
had no choice but to jump back behind the sofa. Helpless, I watched as Kurt,
still shooting, disappeared in thick fog-like gas.
Liz called out, “Jim!”
I turned my head to find her on the floor, eyes
wide with horror, clutching her chest and throat. Only then did I realize I had
a hard time breathing.
The bastards had gassed us.
Watching Liz slowly suffocate made my whole body
start shaking. My breath ragged and harsh, I crawled to her, held her in my
trembling arms, looked into her dark eyes and said, “Everything’s gonna be all
right. I promise I’ll get you out of this, you hear me?” I was desperate for
her to believe me, though I knew she was too smart for that.
Her face pinched with fear, Liz clutched my arm,
holding on tight, and managed to whisper between coughs, “Save yourself. Go
now. Leave me here.”
Go where, exactly?
She closed her eyes. Her body shuddered then went
I pulled her closer, face buried in her thick,
sweet-smelling hair, and said, “I didn’t give you your ring.”
It was at that moment when I realized I was about
to lose everything. My best friend was probably dead. My love was dying. I
wouldn’t last much longer myself. Despair swallowed me up whole. Every single
muscle in my body tightened, and I started hyperventilating, partly due to the
gas and partly because of the terror. I felt like I was being pulled into a
black vortex, and resistance was indeed futile.
I gently lay Liz’s motionless body on the floor,
feeling blank inside. I covered my nose and mouth with my shirt, held my
breath, and used the increasingly thick gas as cover to run to the bedroom. I
got my M-25, loaded it, hid behind the bedroom door frame, controlled my
shaking hands with sheer willpower, aimed and shot at the silhouettes I could
barely make out in the living room. The gunshots echoed deafeningly in the
confines of my bedroom.
I hit a soldier who went down screaming in pain.
Another soldier shouted, “Man down! We’ve got a man down!” and ran to the side
of his fallen comrade. I drew my lips back in a snarl and shot him too. The bullet punched its way through his neck, causing a
gaping hole. He fell to the ground, a pool of blood forming around him.
I shot the sheriff, and I
shot the deputy.
Another soldier, wearing a black gas
mask, stepped out of gas and smoke less than ten feet to my left. He was
pointing a deadly looking assault rifle at my head. I reacted a fraction of a
second faster than he did and shot him in the forehead, right where the Mark of
Cain would’ve been. The sight of his brain splattering all over my living room
bookshelves filled me with a primal, savage satisfaction.
A bullet grazed my right thigh. A sharp pain lanced
through my body. It was like being stabbed with something white hot. My knee buckled,
and I fell to the floor, grabbing my injured leg. I hid behind the door frame
for a few moments and took several deep breaths.
“Major Harrison!” someone shouted. “Put your weapon down
and walk out with your hands above your head. This is your last chance.”
“We know you’re injured,” said a woman. “We’re ready to
offer medical assistance.”
These guys were trying to good-cop-bad-cop me.
“I would rather suffer the end of Romulus a thousand
times. I would rather die in agony, than accept assistance from you,” I yelled
“What?” said the woman. She sounding confused.
“What’s Romulus?” asked the man. “Is it a code-name for
the Resistance’s headquarters?”
I burst into hiccupping laughter, which somehow made my
bullet wound’s pain more excruciating. I didn’t expect STCU goons to understand
Star Trek references. “Yes, it is, and you’ll never find it.” I wished I
could see the look on their faces when they ran Romulus through STCU’s
“That’s it!” yelled the man. “I’ll count to ten, then we’ll
come in, guns blazing. One, two… “
“Dramatic much?” I asked.
Resting the back of my head against the wall, I looked at
my blood-drenched pants and thought about bandaging the bullet wound, but it
sounded like a waste of time. I’d be dead in a few seconds anyway. I’d always imagined I’d draw my last breath
in a jet fighter’s cockpit during an aerial battle, not in my own bedroomin
a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid style shoot-out. I
looked around my bedroom one last time, thought about Liz, bit my lip, and
inserted another magazine into my gun.
I shouted, “Say ‘auf Wiedersehen’ to your Nazi balls!” rolled
on the floor and pulled the trigger several times at a fast pace. The M-25
thundered. Enemy bullets whizzed past my head.