Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Musings: Special Forces by Vashtan/Aleksandr Voinov and Marquesate

Thoughts of a raving fan...and a Review.

If you've read my reviews, you know, I don't really write "real" reviews.  I write what I think and feel, which to me is not the same as a review.  This time you get both.  After I blather with enthusiasm you actually get my attempt at more of a review too.  A double dose, that ended up being...really long.


Special Forces by Vashtan/Aleksandr Voinov and Marquesate

My Thoughts:  In a nutshell, Special Forces is one of the best damn things I've ever read, for many reasons and on many levels.

I actually read the entire epic series several months back, in one sitting. It took me a week to get through it, and it was hands down the most incredible thing I'd ever read. I didn't sleep (if I did, I dreamed about it), I didn't work (took vacation), I barely even tore myself away long enough to eat (a lot of junk food that week!).

Anyone who knows me or has mingled with me around the book boards knows I love this one. I know that I tend to over talk it, blather on and on, and even drool a little, but I can't help it. For me it really was something special.

Every once in a while a book grabs you in such a way, so deeply, so profoundly, that it changes you a bit. Not often, but if your lucky, you'll get one.  Special Forces was one of those books for me. It could be because it was my first m/m book, my first military setting with such extreme violence, my first BDSM book, basically, if it was in there, it was my first. Too many raw and intense firsts to know exactly what did it, but it definitely has had a lasting effect on me. In fact, it changed me.  My thoughts, feelings...and most definitely... my reading tastes.

It grabbed me, took hold of me, flung open doors and took me for a hell of a ride, and when the ride was over I was...somehow different.

For me, it seemed to shed some light into the minds of what or how men might really think, which helps me to understand some things differently.  How sex, love, and power might be for men; and how they may use it.  How ugly and how absolutely beautiful some things could be.  How powerful.  Of course, not being a man, I can only speculate,  but the intensity and reality of the characters and the story really had me believing.

I'm currently reading the re-edited version of Special Forces: Soldiers, on my Kindle instead of my computer thank goodness, which is what has me all worked up again.  I'll repost a review when I'm done.  I'm trying to take it much slower this time, but even the 2nd time I find it just as intense and consuming, if not more so.

With the new print version being released I thought it'd be a good time to throw up a review.  Plus, with Aleksandr Voinov having so many new things coming up...me intending to read every one...I didn't want this one to get lost in the shuffle.  It is my favorite afterall. 
Just a couple of side notes:

The Authors:  I was a little confused on how to list the author names, as Vashtan changed his name, and they both have different versions.  My understanding is that Vashtan is now his not-for-profit name and Aleksandr Voinov is how he publishes commercially.  I've tried to get all the names right, and in the correct order, if I've missed that my apologies to the authors. 

The Cover:  The cover I've used for the review is not meant to represent the original version; which is the version I read.  I simply didn't know what to use, it didn't have one.  I picked the cover from the Vashtan/Aleksandr Voinov edited "Director's Cut" print version that was recently released and prompted the review, so I chose that one.  Basically, I just liked it.

Spoilers?:  I tried not to, but just in case I did, I'll put up a warning.  (You guys tell me if it was warranted!)

 "Warning:  This review may contains spoilers"

Special Forces by Vashtan/Aleksandr Voinov and Marquesate

Free Book: Special Forces is an epic work of military gay erotic fiction, which is available for free online. It can be downloaded from Aleksandr Voinov's website.

Re-edited version of Soldiers available now in print at LuLu.com

Get your print copy of "Soldiers Part 1" here.
The second part in print "Special Forces: Soldiers" is available here.

Book Description: The three cycles are finished and published: Soldiers, (Ch 1–19) and Mercenaries (Ch 20-53) and Veterans (Ch 54-70). Special Forces has 70 chapters in total.

It is the epic story of a Scottish SAS soldier and a Soviet Spetsnaz soldier. Two enemies who meet in the line of duty during the early days of the Soviet Union's last war in Afghanistan. Behind enemy lines respect and finally love grow ... but that's only the official version.

The reality of these two men is dark, brutal, fuelled by aggression and insane lust. Steeped in pain and killing, with death as their shoulder companion, these Special Forces soldiers meet in 1980. Their intense hatred caused by rape, revenge and torture turning into fucked-up lust and years of secret encounters in the rat-infested labyrinth of Kabul and the Afghan mountains. Time, despair and desolation smoothing down the sharpness of hatred, its venom drained with each physical encounter, the lust helping to form an understanding that only two men of the same kind can share. Enemy Mine and Brothers in Arms - on two different sides.

This novel spans across over twenty-five years of their lives. It's harsh and violent, but life is cruel and they just do what they need to survive.



My Review: My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Special Forces is definitely not for the faint of heart. War, violence, extreme sexual situations including rape and the raw intensity of story made this a tough read. It may have been a little tougher than normal for me as it was my first experience reading anything of this nature. It was definitely the most raw and intense thing I've ever read.  There are things in this story that will stay with me for a very long time.
A fierce love story between 2 soldiers on conflicting sides, this one had me up and down, left and right; I laughed, I cried, I loved and at times hated all of the characters in this book. I read the entire thing in a week. It was so intense, I couldn't stop! The journey of these men is incredible, from the violent beginning through to the very end.

I don't know much about military, or historical settings, so I can't comment on the accuracy; and it didn't matter to me at all. Again, this was a first for me with this type of book as well, but it was so realistic that I had no problem believing every aspect, no matter where the characters where or at what particular time.  The military setting made for unbelievable circumstances for these men that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

The emotion the authors were able to tear out of me were amazing. Love or hate the characters, it was done with a passion. What surprised me most was the author’s ability to make me fall in love with Vadim, a violent serial rapist in the beginning of the book and the most messed up and wrecked of men.  In the beginning I loved Dan, it was hard not to, and I was sure Vadim couldn't possibly be redeemable.  But I found myself siding with Vadim more and more the further I went. By the end, Vadim was hands down my favorite.

I loved them both all thru Soldiers, which was actually my favorite of the volumes, but really started falling for Vadim from Mercenaries on. My heart just broke and hurt for him. I began to have a hard time with Dan for various reasons.  Mainly, I felt he was completely selfish, and after a while began to have trouble with the amount of sex in their very "open" relationship.  That could just be my own first time experience again, but I really wanted Dan to come around and outgrow his self-absorbed behavior. Unfortunately, he only got worse for me as the story went on, and never became what I wanted for Vadim.

The authors were able to rip the same strong emotional responses from me with the secondary characters.  I absolutely loved both Hooch and Matt and hated Jean vehemently. The villains are incredibly intense and completely loathsome; to say I hated them isn't quite enough.

Being my first time for every sexual situation in this story; m/m, bondage, group sex, and more, I may have found the sex more intense than others more familiar with the genre.  Hot, intense and powerful are understatements and in all the books I've come across since, I have not read anything that even comes close to this.
Bottom line: I loved this book. I think everyone should read it, and I tell everyone I can find, until they either read it, or tell me to shut up.

3 comments:

  1. Great review Amora, and I had the same initial read experience as you. Since then I've read the first book many times, LOL and it still grabs me.
    I'm burrowing in my mind to get a grip on Dan (as one author I read so aptly put it) and I feel there are reasons why their relationship goes beyond that initial physical attraction.
    Maybe that will come out more once Alex re-edits it.

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  2. @A.B. Gayle: Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. They do have a complex relationship don't they! I loved that.

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  3. I loved this story! I totally agree with your review. I read the original version in about week and then was able to read the director's cut of Soldiers. I'm glad I'm not the only one who had a problem with Dan's behavior as the story unfolded. I was so mad at him one night that I had to stop reading for a few hours, but then I had to know what was going to happen so I dove back into the story. I can't wait till the director's cut of Mercenaries comes out.

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