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FX Holden
FX Holden, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

A frighteningly authentic vision of future war, Kobani is as prophetic as it is unnerving. Through puppet nations, the world's superpowers duel in the Middle East using weapons that are prototypes today, but will be a reality in ten years. With characters you will never forget, Kobani is fast-paced, believable and chilling.

INSIDE KOBANI, Kurdish Women's Protection Unit sniper, Daryan Al-Kobani, is fighting for her people, her city and her mother and sister, hunting a Russian sniper who shoots to grievously wound his victims, not to kill.

AT COMBAT OUTPOST MEYER on the top of Mishte-nur Hill, Lava Dog Gunner James Jensen is field testing the latest in autonomous ground weapons systems, the Legged Squad Support System 'Hunter'. And finding the weapons system's AI has more than a few potentially lethal bugs.

AT INCIRLIK AIR BASE, laser air defense Tactical Control Assistant, Sergeant Alessa Barruzzi, struggles to keep her battery operational against an enemy who attacks with both cyber, electronic and unconventional weapons.

COALITION ALLIES, pilots Karen 'Bunny' O'Hare and 'Meany' Papastopolous, find themselves fighting for survival in the air over Turkey when Russia decides to unleash its newest stealth fighter on the battlefield, the Su-57 'Felon', and change the rules of engagement.

AND IN ISTANBUL, cyber-warfare analysts Shimi Kahane of Israel's Unit 8200, and Carl Williams, of the US NSA, put together the pieces of an intelligence puzzle codenamed 'Operation Butterfly'.

Featuring high octane action and memorable characters, KOBANI explores a near future conflict in which Russia stages the biggest test of US strategic resolve since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Quarter Finalist

Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 10 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 10.00 out of 10


Plot: Holden has created a multifaceted, action-packed war thriller in Kobani. This story follows several characters’ perspectives and lives, each with a different role in the war and different backgrounds. Holden carefully weaves these storylines together to create a detailed and complex portrayal of war.

Prose/Style: This story implements a high level of military jargon, explained in a glossary to help readers unfamiliar with military language and future military technologies. Helpful maps are also included. Along with clear prose and dialogue, this story is easy to follow and navigate, and enjoyable to follow.

Originality: While there are numerous futuristic, military thrillers, Holden adds a unique element by weaving together several storylines to provide a full view of the war and events that occur.

Character Development/Execution: Holden effectively juggles several different characters with their own storylines. Characters are carefully thought out with individually strong background stories.

Date Submitted: April 09, 2021

The high-octane fourth book in Holden's Future War military thriller series (after Orbital) provides a gripping drama of land and air combat fought with the best in futuristic weaponry. In 2030, Russia is strengthening its role in the Middle East by offering support to Syria in its offensive against Turkey to reclaim their northern territories. A coalition of American, Australian, British, Turkish, and German troops operate out of a NATO base in Incirlik, Turkey, while a force of only 300 American Marines are holed up in a Kurdish-backed safe zone in Kobani, Syria. Syria wants the coalition out of Incirlik and Kobani, but if Kobani falls, the Russians gain a political coup.

Holden arms both sides of the conflict with a bevy of high-tech futuristic weapons that generate intricate, exhilarating battle sequences that Holden brings to vivid life, making readers feel they’re right in the middle of the action. Russian Lieutenant Yevgeny Bondarev commands a squadron of Su-57 Felon lethal stealth aircraft directed by AI simulations and data from orbiting early warning systems. The Russians also utilize Okhotnik unmanned combat aircraft that are virtually invisible to radar. The coalition’s Flight Lieutenant Rex King has Perdix microdrones guided by AI and carrying grenades, along with BATS combat drones that work in concert with stealth F-35 fighters to flush out the enemy and coordinate air maneuvers. Sniper assassinations, explosions, chemical weapons attacks, and cyberwarfare pull the two sides into a rapid-fire face-off.

The number of characters, plots, and combat arenas can be dizzying, but Holden balances this with intricate backstories and motivations for his capable and steadfast characters, offering up fleshed-out human stories amid all the high-tech toys. Military thriller fans, war buffs, Middle East politics junkies, and sci-fi enthusiasts will immerse themselves in Holden’s epic tale of regional politics and potential for worldwide conflict.

Takeaway: War buffs and Middle East politics enthusiasts will immerse themselves in nonstop aerial assaults guided by futuristic weaponry.

Great for fans of: Mike Maden’s Drone Threat, James Rosone’s Rise of the Republic series.

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

Readers' Favorite

"With compelling characters, cleverly written dialogue, and a riveting narrative that freezes your blood at times, Kobani is a blockbuster of a novel."

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Kobani by author FX Holden is a political thriller set in 2030, based on the geopolitical trends of current times. The Kurdish and Turkish forces are busy fighting their never-ending battle with the Syrian Armed forces backed covertly by the Russian government. American reluctance to directly join the war efforts of their Turkish allies ends when Russian state of the art stealth fighter jets named Felons bring down two 4th gen-combat drones of the American-led coalition.

Told through multiple POVs including the likes of Marine Gunnery Sergeant James Jensen, an AI weapons handler, Royal Australian Air Force Flying Officer Karen 'Bunny' O' Hare, Flying Officer Meany of the Royal Air force, Lieutenant Yevgeny Bondarev, Israeli Intelligence Agent Shimi Rahane, and many more, Kobani is an action-packed war novel that keeps you hooked till the last page.

FX Holden's novel mirrors today's geopolitical trends and deftly showcases their possible repercussions a decade down the line. Kobani is a realistic depiction of a hypothetical war between world powers following their current political, strategic, and ideological stances.

With compelling characters, cleverly written dialogue, and a riveting narrative that freezes your blood at times, Kobani is a blockbuster of a novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was particularly impressed by Holden's realistic depiction of war and global geopolitics. The plot moves at a breakneck speed, with the action sequences described cinematically in vivid detail.

Overall, I found Kobani to be a smartly written political thriller. I would highly recommend it to fans of action-oriented political thrillers.