ORIGINAL TRADE PAPERBACK A chaplain serving in Earth s space fleet is trapped behind enemy lines where he struggles for both personal survival and humanity s futureThe mantis cyborgs insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy The Fleet is humanity s last chance a multi world, multi national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens overwhelming technology and firepower Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle What good is a Chaplain s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all More than he thinks Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war


10 thoughts on “The Chaplain's War

  1. The Shayne-Train The Shayne-Train says:

    So I loved this book.It tells the story of a chaplain s assistant, and his time as a POW of a race of killer mantis aliens Awesome, bad ass, cyborg killer mantis aliens.It also tells, via flashybacky, about his time before serving A bit of childhood, his hellish journey through basic training, all the good life in the futuristic military tropes Meanwhile, in alternating chapter format, it tells his story going forward from where we meet him, as a humble keeper of a humble chapel on a shit So I loved this book.It tells the story of a chaplain s assistant, and his time as a POW of a race of killer mantis aliens Awesome, bad ass, cyborg killer mantis aliens.It also tells, via flashybacky, about his time before serving A bit of childhood, his hellish journey through basic training, all the good life in the futuristic military tropes Meanwhile, in alternating chapter format, it tells his story going forward from where we meet him, as a humble keeper of a humble chapel on a shitball planet in alien occupied space.But, oh, the things this book examines Spirituality, religion, faith, and how those three may or may not be combined how the sum is not necessarily greater than its parts Also, dependence on technology, the ideology of hate, the understanding of differences.This is a story about mankind s war against bug monsters You can read it for that This is a story about a man, a good man, trying to do right You can read it for that This is hard military sci fi You can read it for that This is a study in faith and moralism You can read it for that.Or you can do yourself a favor, and just read it, and appreciate all the varied flavors


  2. Jason Fischer Jason Fischer says:

    The Chaplain s War is military science fiction, but it s not jingoistic The Chaplain s War is spiritual in places, but it s not preachy This is a book that takes a great idea, and really runs with it.Torgersen gives the reader everything that s good about military SF, but he does so with resonance and meaning I found the Chaplain s War to be a solid bildungsroman we follow a new recruit through basic training, discovering the horror of war, and all of that stuff, but this is where any simil The Chaplain s War is military science fiction, but it s not jingoistic The Chaplain s War is spiritual in places, but it s not preachy This is a book that takes a great idea, and really runs with it.Torgersen gives the reader everything that s good about military SF, but he does so with resonance and meaning I found the Chaplain s War to be a solid bildungsroman we follow a new recruit through basic training, discovering the horror of war, and all of that stuff, but this is where any similarity to Starship Troopers ends Humanity has lost the alien war before it began All the hoo ha and chest thumping doesn t make any difference Defeated and captured, the only thing left for the somewhat agnostic protagonist is to build a chapel for the other survivors a promise to his dying superior, the Chaplain.All of this spirituality gets the alien s attention, and the Chaplain s assistant finds himself on a new battle front How to explain the notions of god and faith to an alien,so when you are struggling with these questions yourself A great read that will stay in your mind long after finishing it The Chaplain s War is highly recommended


  3. Jon Jon says:

    4 4.5 starsI previously read parts of this as short stories or novellas one of which was nominated for a Hugo last year and got my enthusiastic vote This novel fills in the gaps in Chaplain s Assistant Harry Barlow s past and a few important bits of his future Read the rest of my review here at my blog 4 4.5 starsI previously read parts of this as short stories or novellas one of which was nominated for a Hugo last year and got my enthusiastic vote This novel fills in the gaps in Chaplain s Assistant Harry Barlow s past and a few important bits of his future Read the rest of my review here at my blog


  4. Alexandru Constantin Alexandru Constantin says:

    A few days ago I finally go around to reading Brad Torgersen s first book, The Chaplain s War, published by Baen Books I had a lot of expectations going into this one because it was recommended on a lot of the blogs I follow and besides being a military SciFi it promised to address religion in an interesting way Overall I found the book a pleasant read, with a very interesting premise, but fundamentally flawed in it s overall execution.The Chaplain s War starts with our main character Harrison A few days ago I finally go around to reading Brad Torgersen s first book, The Chaplain s War, published by Baen Books I had a lot of expectations going into this one because it was recommended on a lot of the blogs I follow and besides being a military SciFi it promised to address religion in an interesting way Overall I found the book a pleasant read, with a very interesting premise, but fundamentally flawed in it s overall execution.The Chaplain s War starts with our main character Harrison Barlow, a Chaplain s Assistant a MOS in the Army, the equal of Navy s RP imprisoned in an alien POW camp, along with many other humans, located on a barren alien planet called Purgatory Barlow and the rest of the humans are the last survivors of a Earth military counterattack on the Mantes, a violent alien species bent on exterminating human life Accepting his fate he devotes his time to maintaining a non denominational chapel open to all who wish to use it for prayer or self reflection His chapel attracts the attention of a Mante overseer, a Professor, who wishes to study the concept of faith and religion, ideas alien to the Mantes Barlow and the Professor become friends, and their relationship eventually spurs on a temporary truce between the two species Unfortunately both sides have militant sides that sabotage the peace potentially leading to the extermination of Humankind and it s up to Barlow to fix the situation and restore peace.The book bounces between the present where Barlow is interacting with the Mantes and both sides are on the brink of total war and the past, where you get a detailed history of Barlow joining the Fleet, going through bootcamp, training, becoming a Chaplain s Assistant, and ending up a prisoner on Purgatory The first major flaw of the novel lie in these flashback chapters They are detailed boring clich bootcamp chapters We get the typical join the military against his parents wishes, the scary bootcamp drill sergeants, the rivalry with the street smart kid, showing leadership and emotional potential The military fiction equivalent of the farmboy in his village The main problem is not the narrative but the fact that it drags on for several repetitive chapters, as an active duty service member I found real bootcamp dull so I don t need to read five chapters of standing in formation Sadly these useless chapters take you away from the interesting happenings on Purgatory and make the whole novel choppy and uneven.Putting the bootcamp adventures aside, the real failure of the novel lies in its main topic, religion The Chaplain s War takes place 190 years in the future yet Barlow s version of Christianity remains identical to early 21st century moderate conservatism Not only is the portrayal of Christianity uninspired but Mormonism, Islam, and the other religions mentioned are static and unchanged from what they are in our present world SciFi is all about speculation yet Barlow s future culture and religion is identical to ours A lot changes in 190 years 190 years ago the United States was a new country, Mormonism was first created, and slavery was going strong Religions drastically change throughout the centuries A modern day Christian used to prayer groups and acoustic guitar camps would not understand or even comprehend the religious fervor of the Reformation or the world of the Medieval Christian To portray religion unchanging in a future where Earth has FTL capabilities and has made contact with alien life is just absurd and the greatest disappointment in this book I came in expecting a fascinating look at religion and faith in a SciFi setting, instead I got chapters of boring bootcamp imitating Starship Troopers


  5. Ron Ron says:

    Superficially this book is an expansion of a short story from Torgersen s Lights in the Deep Collection But there s nothing superficial about this story.Modern science fiction suffers a surfeit of super heroic protagonists who are smarter, faster and luckier than everyone else Torgersen s Harrison Barlow isn t In fact, he thinks he s a coward, a loser and unqualified to be a Chaplain s Assistant because he doesn t believe God exists or cares what happens to him view spoiler Maybe he s wron Superficially this book is an expansion of a short story from Torgersen s Lights in the Deep Collection But there s nothing superficial about this story.Modern science fiction suffers a surfeit of super heroic protagonists who are smarter, faster and luckier than everyone else Torgersen s Harrison Barlow isn t In fact, he thinks he s a coward, a loser and unqualified to be a Chaplain s Assistant because he doesn t believe God exists or cares what happens to him view spoiler Maybe he s wrong On several counts hide spoiler After an opening section straight out of The Chaplain s Legacy short story, the story advances and retreats to fill in back story and continue the original story line Because the back story starts as a typical Boot Camp hell, this didn t seem to contribute Then, as they converge, both stories come alive as Barlow s and Earth s friends, forces and future seem lost Finally Barlow makes an existential leap, after which nothing happens Perhaps that s the point.Torgersen writes with sympathy and understanding of the individuals who don t have all the answers, can t climb all the hills, don t think they have anything to contribute But they re wrong, too.Yeah, the ending s a little sappy, but give the guy a break Barlow earned it.Nice cover art, though it down sizes the Mantes three meter wide disc.Friends, this is why I have tightened my ratings in 2014 If I hand out fives like candy at Halloween, how will you know when I really, really like something other than lining up adjectives


  6. Beth Cato Beth Cato says:

    I received an early copy of this book through NetGalley The Chaplain s War is based on Torgerson s short story The Chaplain s Assistant that was published in Analog in September 2011 It s an excellent story, and one that I remember well years later The book uses that story at the start and builds it from there, creating a frightening scenario where humanity is in danger of annihilation by aliens That sounds like a stale trope, but Torgersen makes it bright and fascinating by utilizing the v I received an early copy of this book through NetGalley The Chaplain s War is based on Torgerson s short story The Chaplain s Assistant that was published in Analog in September 2011 It s an excellent story, and one that I remember well years later The book uses that story at the start and builds it from there, creating a frightening scenario where humanity is in danger of annihilation by aliens That sounds like a stale trope, but Torgersen makes it bright and fascinating by utilizing the viewpoint of an enlisted chaplain s assistant an agnostic at that as he copes with curious alien bugs who have no concept of religion, god, or soul I think the best mash up I can think of for comparison s sake is Scalzi s Old Man s War crossed with Mary Doria Russell s The Sparrow It s not as deep or devastating as The Sparrow, but it definitely has the fast pace and readability of Old Man s War as it explores religion and faith.The author s experience as a United States Army Reserve Warrant Officer grants the book a lot of military realism, too It made me laugh out loudthan once my husband was in the Navy and the scenes of boot camp and a holding unit rang as so very true.It s a fast, strong read I became incredibly fond of a regal character who plays a major role through the book something I would never have expected The very end even brought a tear to my eye as a tribute was paid to a character that didn t make it


  7. Hilary Hilary says:

    Wow Upon first glance this, somewhat inevitably, reminded me of Starship Troopers, mainly because of the enemy and Basic Training, but there the similarity ends This is a reality which SF doesn t normally cover, one where humans are weak, and one where we re losing It opens on a planet called Purgatory, where Harry Barlow, a humble chaplain s assistant, maintains a multidenominational chapel He doesn t have any faith of his own, never preaches a sermon, just creates a quiet space where peopl Wow Upon first glance this, somewhat inevitably, reminded me of Starship Troopers, mainly because of the enemy and Basic Training, but there the similarity ends This is a reality which SF doesn t normally cover, one where humans are weak, and one where we re losing It opens on a planet called Purgatory, where Harry Barlow, a humble chaplain s assistant, maintains a multidenominational chapel He doesn t have any faith of his own, never preaches a sermon, just creates a quiet space where people can come to reflect and seek their own answers His short chaplain training, which involved comforting the wounded and the dying during drills, hasn t prepared him for this, but then nothing could.A line of communication suddenly opens up, and his life and future change in unfathomable ways as he begins a last ditch effort to save humanity.Disclaimer I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review


  8. Sara Sara says:

    Holy crap, but this was a good book As in, couldn t put it down, kept me up waaaay past my bedtime, wandered around the house with my nose buried in the book or rather, my ereader It even made me tear up at a couple of places and that almost never happens to me I don t, as a rule, consider myself a big fan of the MilSF genre though I have nothing against it, it s just not usually my cup of tea , but this novel was absolutely amazing Unless it has the name Vorkosigan associated with i Holy crap, but this was a good book As in, couldn t put it down, kept me up waaaay past my bedtime, wandered around the house with my nose buried in the book or rather, my ereader It even made me tear up at a couple of places and that almost never happens to me I don t, as a rule, consider myself a big fan of the MilSF genre though I have nothing against it, it s just not usually my cup of tea , but this novel was absolutely amazing Unless it has the name Vorkosigan associated with it, that is


  9. Troy Davis Troy Davis says:

    I received an advanced copy from Net Galley for purposed of review The opinions often jaded expressed are my own.One of the best surprises in a book I ve had all year I went in expecting to be moderately amused I left a die hard fan Torgersen writes in a style reminiscent of Orson Scott Card at times At other times, there is a pulp feeling to it that thrills The writing is easy without being turgid or pretentious Loved it Well done


  10. Alex Alex says:

    This review is a little oblique so as to avoid spoilers I give thislike 3.5 stars I love the overall idea but it was a slow burn and the execution was a little shaky What happens when humanity meets an alien species the insect like mantis utterly devoid of spirituality or a concept of God The author has the protagonist, Henry Barlow, as a spiritual none you might call him agnostic but he has not given enough thought to spirituality to even qualify as that He s neither hosti This review is a little oblique so as to avoid spoilers I give thislike 3.5 stars I love the overall idea but it was a slow burn and the execution was a little shaky What happens when humanity meets an alien species the insect like mantis utterly devoid of spirituality or a concept of God The author has the protagonist, Henry Barlow, as a spiritual none you might call him agnostic but he has not given enough thought to spirituality to even qualify as that He s neither hostile nor, at first, really open to religion The book touches lightly on his spiritual journey, but I think he serves as a foil for the bigger idea and thus it is useful for him to be unencumbered by religious ideology The book does take us through a journey, though Barlow s spiritual development is eclipsed by his complicated relationship with the mantis While he is motivated by a desire to save humanity, he forms genuine bonds of friendship with several of the species and, in a sense, wants to save them In turn, a few of the mantes go through their own journey of metaphysical awakening In this regard, the book challenges our views of ethnic and religious other How different are we from each other, really Beyond the story of galactic interspecies conflict, the story asks about our relationship with, and reliance on technology The mantes are cyborgs, harnessed to electronic carriages at birth The book asks how this affects, not only our spirituality, but our humanity As stated, the book was a slow burn and I almost put it down at first I m glad I persisted It asks an interesting question and doesn t treat its subject matter in a heavy handed way That said, I found the writing style a little stilted at time Barlow speakslike a technician than a relaxed guy who isn t afraid to thumb his nose at authority The chapters flip between the present and his early days in boot camp While it did come together, I spent the first half of the book wondering if the boot camp scenes were just filler All that said, by the last half of the book I didn t want to put it down