Book Reviews: Ghost & Kildar, John Ringo

I write the occasional book review. Not many, but a few. Part of the limitation is that I prefer to not say something bad if it turns out that I didn’t like the book.

Rule, meet Exception.

Warning: Graphic language and spoilers. Stomach-turning scenarios.

Let’s start with John Ringo’s ‘techno-thriller’ (as billed by Baen Books) Ghost. ‘Ghost’ is an ex-SEAL, medically retired in his early thirties, currently stalking and terrifying coeds at his local college. This leads him into conflict with slaving terrorists, and eventually free-market nukes. And more sex slaves.

To be fair, this sort of book isn’t usually what I read. I made an exception because it’s Ringo; he’s one of the few guys writing mil-SF that I like. He’s a good writer. The book was highly recommended in some online fora. And Ghost is skillfully written.

Skillfully written about a sick SOB ‘hero’ doing disgusting things. ‘Ghost’ happens to be a child-molesting rapist, who spends a significant part of the book ‘seducing’ a pair of teens too young to drink into the dubious (OK, dubious to me, anyway) pleasures of S&M B&D. The good news is that he does rescue most of the kidnapped coeds. The bad news is that he gets off watching the terrorists rape and torture to death the first one.

Later, he brutally rapes and sodomizes an under-age prostitute, rationalizing it as, “Well, someone else might have hurt her just as bad.” But that’s OK, because he does save Paris. I’m sure that girl he outright bought is consoled by the thought that she was owned and savaged by a hero.

Kildar continues ‘Ghost’s’ adventures as a freelance psychopath. Basically, it’s more of the same, in a different setting. Frankly, I only read it because it’s Ringo, and I assumed that he must be going somewhere with all this, hopefully some kind of redemption of the certifiably insane protagonist.

Nope. Just as a side story, our hero ‘rescues’ a bunch of under-age sex slaves, and decides to keep them for himself in his new harem, because those poor stupid girls wouldn’t be able to look after themselves and someone else would just enslave and rape them anyway. He generously decides not to assault the ones under 16, although he considers making an exception for the twelve year-old because she’s so pretty (?!).

But it’s all OK because ‘Ghost’ becomes a good feudal lord. Seriously.

Apparently there are at least three more books in this series, so obviously a lot of people don’t share my concerns. Could be they merely flipped past the rape, sodomy, and torture and kept to the admittedly well written combat action sequences. Or maybe Ringo’s hard-core fan base is pretty hard-core, and the sick sections were what they bought the books for.

Stick to Ringo’s mil-SF and you’ll be fine. Avoid this Ghost series. Or avoid me, because I’d be worried. If I had read Ghost or Kildar before having seen anything else by Ringo, I would never have seen anything else by Ringo. These books put me off that much.


3 thoughts on “Book Reviews: Ghost & Kildar, John Ringo

  1. wdg3rd October 17, 2015 / 2:15 am

    I don’t read much mil SF as mil SF. Needs a book. Usually a libertarian hook. Strongly recommend the work of Peter Grant. I haven’t even read much by David Weber, and I was in college with his brother (introduced me to SF fandom).


  2. Ruth October 17, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    Did you ever run across the “Oh, John Ringo, No” meme? You just discovered the source of it.

    I vaguely recall an interview with Ringo about this series. IIRR he had been struggling to write something contracted cause this book kept wandering through his brain, so he finally wrote Ghost, just to make it go away…..later, when the publisher was pestering him for being behind on the contracted book he threw the Ghost manuscript at them, expecting them to throw it back with an “EEEEEEWWWWWW!!!!!” attached. They bought it instead. And then customers bought it. And asked for sequels.


    • Bear October 17, 2015 / 8:25 pm

      No, I never ran across that. I don’t spend much time in fandom.

      I think it’s a bit disturbing that Ringo has stuff like that so firmly embedded in his head that it forced him to write it down.


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