Featured Review: ‘Man of War’ by Sean Parnell


Man of warDecorated combat veteran and New York Times bestselling author of Outlaw Platoon Sean Parnell makes his highly-anticipated fiction debut. 

After several tours fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, Eric Steele now serves as part of an elite, top-secret unit known simply as the Program.

Originally, after carrying his commander to safety following an attack on his Special Forces team, Steele was nominated for the prestigious Medal of Honor. But instead of a high-profile ceremony and photo-op, the request was halted and Steele was given something else instead. . . The chance to kill bad guys without the abundance of government oversight and bureaucratic red tape that slowed him down in the Army.

Spoken about only in whispers, the Alpha Program is comprised of nine of the most hardened and seasoned badasses the United States military has to offer. Each Alpha answers directly to the president, and each operator is responsible for covering a specifically assigned geographical territory, thus giving the commander-in-chief a third option when diplomacy won’t work and starting a lengthy war is out of the question. When all else fails, it’s up to the Program’s operators to get the job done, and Eric Steele, codenamed Stalker 7, is the unit’s most lethal member — the alpha of the Alphas. 

The story starts 100 miles outside of Tunis, where a man named Nate West leads an assault on an armed convoy — kicking off a chilling sequence that puts readers firmly behind the scope of West’s Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle.

It turns out that the convoy had been carrying a small nuclear weapon to a secret location, and the weapon is now in the possession of West — who plans to use it to attack America, the country he feels betrayed him four years prior.  Complicating matters even more is the revelation that the convoy was actually part of a CIA operation, suggesting that West and his men had intimate details of the spy agency’s whereabouts. It also raises questions about Director Robin Styles, who is all too quick to try and erase any record of the agency’s presence in Tunisia.

At the center of everything is Eric Steele, who in another life was once close to West. Steele was there when Nate was thought to have been killed, and he grieved the loss of his friend. Now, he’s faced with the shocking and devastating reality that his former teammate has gone rogue and is knee-deep in a plan to strike a blow to America. 

From brothers-in-arms to warriors on opposite sides of a raging conflict, Steele is tasked with his most personal mission yet. . . stopping Nate West at all costs in order to save millions of innocent lives. 

As Steele blazes a trail from Washington D.C. across the Middle East, Europe, and Africa in search of West, Parnell does a solid job developing other characters (Demo, Steele’s buddy and fellow operator, is sure to be a fan-favorite) as the story unfolds. One of the book’s more memorable scenes involves Steele performing a HALO jump using an MK11 Advance Jumper’s Helmet that was developed by DARPA, which is fitted with a holographic display that functions like something right out of the Marvel universe. 

Obviously, Parnell knows his stuff when it comes to the military and how special forces operators walk, talk, and handle themselves on and off the battlefield. At twenty-four years old, he was named the commander of a forty-man infantry platoon tasked with rooting out Pakistan-based insurgents from a mountain valley along Afghanistan’s eastern frontier. Later, they became known as the Outlaws, and Parnell’s captivating nonfiction story (Outlaw Platoon) touches on everything from brotherhood to what war is really like, all told through his riveting first-hand account.

Here, with Man of War, Parnell brings that same raw honesty to his story. Steele and the other characters speak and move with the kind of realism that only someone who’s been there and done that can re-create on the page. Some readers may struggle, at least initially, with all the military terminology and acronyms, but veteran readers of the genre will be just fine. It’s also worth noting that this isn’t a straight-up military thriller, as Parnell mixes in political elements as well, expanding his target audience in the process. While some aspects aren’t altogether new (readers are used to seeing top-secret programs designed to circumvent laws and regulations in order to dispatch threats as they pop up) Parnell does offer a fresh take on things that allow his characters to stand out in a crowded genre.

Basically, if you like action, conspiracies, and bold, larger-than-life characters. . . this book is for you. 

Falling somewhere between Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath and Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Eric Steel is a formidable new protagonist whom readers will love following around and watching as he leaves a trail of dead bad guys in his wake. Man of War hits fast, hard, and never lets up for a second. . . Sean Parnell really knows his stuff, and this thriller is not to be missed.

Book Details

Author: Sean Parnell
Series: Eric Steele #1
Pages: 368 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0062668781
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10



Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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