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Book Review - "Sand and Fire" by Tom Young

The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper.  You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link in the far right side bar.

9780399166884_p0_v1_s260x420Sand And Fire, Tom Young’s latest, is a gripping military thriller.  It is obvious with his fifth novel that he has become a proficient author in the military book genre. He does not focus on the Air Force branch, as with his past novels, but details in this thriller what it is like to be a US Marine. 

Young’s main characters, Colonel Michael Parson and Sophia Gold, from previous novels, take a secondary role in this one.  The story centers on Gunnery Sergeant A. E. Blount, a six-foot-eight, formidable warrior, and the grandson of one of the first black Marines. The plot becomes riveting after Blount decides to retire from the Marines. After stopping off at a US base in Germany, he witnesses a chemical terrorist attack at a nightclub frequented by many US service people.  Upon returning stateside to his wife and two children he learns of more bio terrorist attacks and decides to re-enlist. Setting out with a strike force the mission is to kill or capture the terrorists in North Africa. It becomes a botched mission leaving some Marines killed, some captured, and the jihadist blackmailing America to withdraw its forces.  Parson and Gold lead the NATO effort to rescue Blount and his colleagues and terminate the terrorist threat.

Young stated to, “Blount nearly stole the show in an earlier book, The Renegades.  People liked how the powerful and quick-thinking Marine had a soft spot for children and great loyalty to his friends. Because I got such a positive reader response about Blount and enjoyed his character I decided to give him a starring role in his own novel. I wanted to summarize the nature of the enemy and put the reader into Blount’s head, which is why I put in the quote, ‘For years he’d seen them use civilians as shields, throw acid on women, hang suicide vests on children.’  Those in the military have no misconception of who the enemy is and how they will be treated if captured.

Having flown nearly 4000 hours as a flight engineer for the Air National Guard during the War on Terror he is able to create very realistic scenes based on his experiences.  There are a number of sub plots that give the reader a glimpse into the mindset of those serving and their families.  He touches on important issues such as PTSD, the effect multiple deployments have on the family, the cooperation amongst the different branches, and the dangers those fighting the terrorists must face. 

Young commented, “Military service tends to run in families.  His grandfather who served in World War II inspired Blount.  I based this on the epic story of how a hero, before he decides to slay the dragon, meets with his mentor.  This old warrior of the past talks about what is needed to meet the threat. In every war no unit wins wars by themselves.  I tried in this novel to demonstrate how different services work together toward a common goal.  A watchword is ‘jointness.’  My Air Guard career gave me opportunities to work with the Marines, Navy, and Army.  There is the attitude: one team, one fight.” 

Sand And Fire is an action packed thriller.  It is reminder that the War on Terror is not over and of the brutality of the terrorists.  This story will tear at the reader’s heartstrings, making them feel they are part of the emotional decision to choose between family and duty.  This is a riveting, insightful, and realistic story of one US Marine.