The Price of Survival: from the Historian Tales blends an account of an invasion force with sci-fi and social commentary in a saga captured by an ageless immortal protagonist whose purpose is to witness events and write great stories about them.
In this case the tale revolves around many different characters, from Kip, an emotionally damaged ex-soldier and victim of an all-embracing conflict ("It was one of those game-changing wars, the kind optimists and fools call a war to end all wars.") to the Historian, who gathers facts, picks up and puts together pieces, and documents world-changing events as they occur through time. The social observations peppered throughout add depth and interest ("...as is usually the case, the dead are the lucky ones. It’s the survivors that must struggle on with broken bodies and minds in a world that doesn’t need them anymore.") as it traverses alien and slum worlds alike, surveying magic, refugees, hope, and the pressure points and motivations of civilizations in conflict.
As men at war with aliens face world-altering forces and terrible defeats, military confrontations and strategies power a plot that races towards the inevitability of destruction as the Historian observer struggles to document events without changing them.
Stories are sacred to the Historian's kind. But sometimes outcomes beg to be altered. As readers become immersed in the Historian's dilemmas, a wide-ranging tale is crafted that successfully immerses its readers in a gripping, original view of power's responsibilities: "I couldn’t interfere in the story to such an incredible degree. Even my most intense effort could only make minor shifts. There was no way I could outright eliminate a character of such importance."
Readers who seek more than action stories from their alien invasion scenarios will relish the different approach posed by a history observer charged with documenting an event he's forced to participate in himself, with unexpected repercussions for all, in a tale that is vividly fast-paced and packed with unexpected moments and thought-provoking dilemmas.
The Price of Survival is highly recommended for the sci-fi fan who wants a different take on clashes with alien invaders.