Loren L. Coleman,
By Temptations & By War
(Roc, 2003)

By Temptations & By War is tied in to Battletech, a Dungeons & Dragons-type game system of future robot wars that also has PC computer versions. This novel is specifically a part of the Mechwarrior: Dark Age subset, based on an expansion set to Battletech, which extends the original background of the game.

There are 70-some Battletech novels along with many, many game scenarios, rules expansions and so on. This whole universe, of course, is hard to understand unless you are a teenage boy with lots of time and a steady source of income to buy all the accessories.

As you might guess, Temptations is pure space opera. In this seventh story in the Mechwarrior: Dark Age series, the Confederation is trying to liberate the citizens of the planet Liao from the "benevolent occupation" of the Republic. The revolt is led by student Evan Kurst, who is offered help by his former mentor, Mai Uhn Wa. Mai betrayed Kurst in an earlier book, however.

Also visiting the planet is Ritter Michaelson, hiding from his former life as Ezekiel Crow, the "Traitor of Liao." He was born Daniel Peterson and took on the Crow persona after his parents were killed. Peterson/Crow/Michaelson is being blackmailed by agents of wealthy businessman Jacob Brannon, and winds up fighting the Confederation.

The plot mostly describes the diplomacy among the various personages on each side as they try to out-maneuver one another. It also features many battle scenes with Mechwarrriors, which are robot vehicles with men inside to power them. Most are like super-powered suits of armor.

As pulp fiction goes, this is not a bad effort. It does not come off as a stand-alone novel, however. There are constant references to events and characters from previous books in the series, and the battles refer to Demons, Sprints and many other machines that will be unfamiliar to anyone not versed in Battletech.

If you want to enter the complex Battletech world, just go to your local role-playing games store and look for someone who hasn't had a date for a few years to explain it to you. Don't forget to bring your credit card.

- Rambles
written by Dave Howell
published 6 March 2004

Buy it from Amazon.com.