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FX Holden
FX Holden, author

It is April 1 2038. Day 60 of China's blockade of the rebel island of Taiwan.

The US government has agreed to provide Taiwan with a weapons system so advanced, it can disrupt the balance of power in the region.

But what pilot would be crazy enough to run the Chinese blockade to deliver it?

AGGRESSOR is the first novel in a new series that looks at the conflict that could spark the next World War, through the eyes of soldiers, sailors, civilians and aviators on all sides. Featuring technologies that are on the drawing board today and could be fielded in the near future, AGGRESSOR is the page turning military technothriller you have been waiting for!

Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 9.00 out of 10


Plot/Idea: Holden’s novel moves at breakneck pace and is expertly plotted. A myriad of players on the international stage come together flawlessly to depict a conflict with the potential to evolve into WWIII.

Prose: The prose here is beautifully crafted, imbuing characters with emotion and humanity. The narrative flows seamlessly from one character’s perspective to another.

Originality: This engrossing military thriller unfolds in the near future, following the latest mission Karen “Bunny” O’Hare finds herself on along with Aggressor Inc. Each page is steeped in action and tension, while characters on all sides of the conflict bring humanity to the story. 

Character/Execution: The many characters populating Aggressor prove memorable, with those on all sides of the brewing conflict brought vividly and lovingly to life. Readers will find themselves empathizing with characters on both sides of the conflict. Secondary characters are integral to the story, many growing into major players on the international stage.

Blurb: A blood-pumping military techno-thriller that will leave readers itching for the next book in the series. Perfect for fans of thrillers and near-future sci-fi. 

Date Submitted: April 07, 2023

Holden’s high-tech, near-future geopolitical thriller starts a series and, as it hits the highs that have long set Holden’s books apart, stands as an inviting jumping-on point for new readers. Here’s all the inventive full-throttle action, multifaceted perspectives of suspenseful global conflicts, and convincingly detailed weapons technology—always described on-the-fly, dazzling without slowing down the story. Aggressor’s a treat for readers who, like Holden’s charismatic pilot Karen “Bunny” O’Hare, want to get into the air already but also want to believe in the hardware. Set in 2036, Aggressor takes off quick. Aggressor Inc., a private military contractor (motto “We Bring It”), has been providing fighter jets and training to Taiwan, but now an Aggressor team is trapped there behind a Chinese blockade.

True to its name, though, the company is pushing matters: having secured an extension on its contract, Aggressor plans to sneak more planes to the island—chief among them a next-gen stealth fighter, the Black Widow. That setup means daring infiltration as tensions mount in Washington, Beijing, and the U.N., and Holden blends the excitement of the mission—and the inevitable complications—with passages from the perspective of all interested parties, including the Chinese. Holden, as always, avoids stereotypes, and his Bunny proves an arresting hero. She “burns” to fly fast and proves capable of quick, decisive action on air, land, and sea.

The pace is quick, but Holden studs the tale with resonant grace notes that make its future conflict feel real. As the British get embroiled, and China threatens war, readers get fascinating asides about hypersonic weapons systems, the divergent development of AI in the East and West, what a campaign to air-drop supplies into Taiwan would look like, and a Pentagon official’s consternation at the impact of global conflict on his 401(k). But it’s crisp, thrilling action and an appealing new cast that makes this one soar.

Takeaway: This superior near-future tech-thriller finds fighter pilots infiltrating a blockaded Taiwan.

Great for fans of: Paco Chierici’s Lions of the Sky, J.D. Narramore’s The Nameless Height.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A