March Upcountry by David Weber and John Ringo

March Upcountry by David Weber and John RingoMarch Upcountry (Empire of Man #1) by David Weber, John Ringo
Published: Baen Books (2001), eBook, 472pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fiction, Sci-fi

Roger Ramius Sergei Chiang MacClintock didn't understand.

He was young, handsome, athletic, an excellent dresser, and third in line for the Throne of Man ... so why wouldn't anyone at Court trust him?

Why wouldn't even his own mother, the Empress, explain why they didn't trust him Or why the very mention of his father's name was forbidden at Court Or why his mother had decided to pack him off to a backwater planet aboard what was little more than a tramp freighter to represent her at a local political event better suited to a third assistant undersecretary of state.

It probably wasn't too surprising that someone in his position should react by becoming spoiled, self-centered, and petulant. After all, what else did he have to do with his life>

But that was before a saboteur tried to blow up his transport. Then warships of the Empire of Man's worst rivals shot the crippled vessel out of space. Then Roger found himself shipwrecked on the planet Marduk, whose jungles were full of damnbeasts, killerpillars, carnivorous plants, torrential rain, and barbarian hordes with really bad dispositions. Now all Roger has to do is hike halfway around the entire planet, then capture a spaceport from the Bad Guys, somehow commandeer a starship, and then go home to Mother for explanations.

Fortunately, Roger has an ace in the hole: Bravo Company of Bronze Battalion of The Empress' Own Regiment. If anyone can get him off Marduk alive, it's the Bronze Barbarians.

Assuming that Prince Roger manages to grow up before he gets all of them killed. (from Amazon)

I reread this because I finally want to move on in the series– this time around I noticed different things than I did the first time I read it.1 Military sci-fi can have an unfortunate twinge of he-man woman-hater club, sometimes to weird extremes, but March Upcountry isn’t over-the-top with that. In fact, it does some really good things with its characters and plot.

For instance, I noticed this time just how many female characters there are, and how much they’re in the forefront. They all have names, they important to the plot, and yet there’s never a huge deal made out of it! Most of them are marines/soldiers, but there’s never anything about how they’re good soldiers “for a woman” or something. It’s very matter-of-fact and I really liked that.2

There’s also an interesting thing about sex and gender roles/assumptions re:the aliens (basically they’re space seahorses). I LOVE aliens, and I really like it when they’re not just blue!humans or something. The aliens in March Upcountry are primitive (they’re still in the equivalent of our iron age), but they’re not treated as badly by the humans as you might expect. The human characters have the advantage in technology and a kind of future-awareness (like how the aliens’ culture is probably going to evolve based on humanity’s own course), but at the same time they’re kinda screwed. Their tech doesn’t last in the alien planet’s jungle environment, there’s only about 60 of them, and the aliens are bigger/stronger/home advantage-r. I liked that, despite the many problems the humans have, it never got to the extent of an “us vs. them” thing. The aliens are “other” but they’re not a WEIRD other. So that’s nice!

The worst thing about March Upcountry is that there’s a LOT of explaining. Seems like half of each chapter is something being explained, for pages and pages and PAGES. I didn’t really notice that until I was halfway through, so I didn’t overly mind– but it DOES get a bit tiring after a while.

I’m looking forward to reading the second book, though!

Read: March 4-6, 2013 (reread)


  1. I also rated it less birds, and read it faster. Correlation, maybe?
  2. David Weber has a whole series starring a female space-navy officer person, so that might have something to do with it.

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