The Elements of Victory (Review)

victory

To deliver a satisfactory conclusion to a trilogy, an author needs several skills: the ability to write in clever twists which keep the reader guessing, a footing which rejects the stale machinations of dues ex machinia, and a finale which addresses the writing project’s central conflict in a believable, cogent manner. Nick Web, to this credit, manages to deliver on these demands and more with his final installment in the Legacy Fleet trilogy, Victory.

Captain Granger returns to bring the fight to the Swarm foe. The hallmarks of his command—daring tactics, saucy politicking, and more—make an impact in the typical conservative niche which Webb is known. So Victory does not deviate from previous books in the trilogy. By Granger’s side is his second in command, the deadly Shelby Proctor, and the whole crew of hardened soldiers and pilots. United Earth president Avery and the sneaky Isaacson make a return as well. This time around, however, things get real as the Swarm horde bears down on Earth with everything they have as Granger and crew race against time to stop a cataclysmic disaster from wiping out all life.

To rephrase: in terms of plot, there is nothing new in Victory. Thankfully, as far as conclusions to trilogies go, however, Webb manages to stay on the bright side of writing. While there may not be anything new in Victory, the old manages to hold up just fine.

What Webb does here is a refinement of his previous two installments. The short, engaging chapters which his fans love, that which keeps the pace lively, and the earthly, stout characters which speak to the traditionally minded all make a return. He fuses the plot into the action well while making both central parts of the reading experience; indeed, the narrative and combat are inseparable yet are able to not draw attention to themselves as being inseparable. For military science fiction, this is vital, and Webb’s skill in this matter speaks volumes.

One reason why this facet of Victory is so important is because it is a concluding part to a sequence of writing. What transpires here is supposed to wrap up a narrative spread out over the course of two other books. Victory concludes a trilogy which sets up a new trilogy set in the same universe with many of the same characters. Readers, after all, will not be happy if the thrilling conclusions turned out to be not too thrilling. But on this end Webb delivers. Such deliverance is managed without the author diving too deeply into obscene plot stretches.

All though I cannot speak of the epilogue’s twist ending, I can say that it tints in a new light the whole series of events that had begun in Constitution. Furthermore, it is an ending which, despite the twist, feels believable, not overly sentimental or clichéd (though it is, of course clichéd, but only just). What comes to mind when I think of the ending is that it respects the reader; meaning, the primary antagonist is dealt with, the catalyst which begun the narrative concludes with enough of a definitive tone, while also retaining just enough mystery to allow the reader to anticipate the next trilogy in Webb’s sequence. Webb’s ending reassures the reader that the plot— the central quandary—has been resolved with just enough ambiguity so as to still imbue the world with a sense of unease.

I lay emphasis on the nature of this conclusion because, despite my differences with the author’s conservatism (as revealed in this installment via his nascent indulgence in Pro-life ideology), he manages to set up compelling tales and to wrap up those tales without—and forgive me for being blunt, screwing the audience: he is honest about his views and he does not pull punches or half-bakes his ideas (something which progressive writers cannot seem to get enough of). Everything is there and planned; indeed, one of Victory’s vital narrative moments was established well in the first book—it being brought to maturity over the course of the trilogy, while having only a few gentle nudges in the right direction, makes the methods of conflict resolution satisfying because it was always extant in the universe and just needed other aspects of the plot to advance alongside it. Because this is not something seen in a great deal of the fiction I read, as unfortunate as it sounds, I can appreciate it here since what does weigh down Webb’s writing (ideologically) is not so overbearing as to render any strength in authorship as mute. At the end of the day, Webb delivers a solid product to a solid trilogy, and fans ought to enjoy every page as they will enjoy hearing that there is another trilogy planned to continue this story. Is it stellar, original reading? No. But it is also far from much of the insipid drivel I have gorged myself on while writing these reviews, and if that is good for anything then it shows itself here, in Victory.

Victory

Nick Webb

377 pages. Published by Nick Webb. $5.99 (Kindle), $16.87 (Print), $11.95 (Audible audiobook). 2016.

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