Monday With Mildred: “Fire from the Sky – the Sanders Saga”

Fire From the Sky - The Sanders Saga book covers

Fire from the Sky – the Sanders Saga

It happened to me again. I bought a book because it was cheap and even though there were aspects of it that made me fume I kept reading because the bulk of it wasn’t so bad I lost interest. There are a lot of typos, and the grammar used by the characters is often mortifying, but the small purchase price excuses that for me and I know people who talk like that. So I had to buy the next eleven books in the series and spent a week reading them. Obviously, I need help.

Sanders is the last name of the family who owns what normal people would call a huge farm in Tennessee. Clayton, the youngest son of the owners, returns from having spent nearly half his life working in all the worst parts of the world in the blackest Ops the Army has to offer. He is danger personified, which his home town learns about twenty minutes after he arrives. He has come home to try and save his family from a world altering event that only he and his Army brothers knows is coming.

This is Military Post-Apocalypse Fiction at its…finest? That all depends on how much you like the genre, and since I’m one of the world’s biggest fan of zombies, post-apocalypse is my jam. The military aspect gives it a very different feel than zombies, especially with the acronyms, and the constant counting and accounting of ordnance and resources, and the attitude of anyone non-military being weak and worthless and practically evil. So yeah, I enjoy it, but only because I can overlook the horrid political and cultural differences to get to the parts that I find interesting and entertaining. I learned how to do that decades ago when my dad would take us to see horrible movies that we learned to enjoy for the parts we liked while overlooking the rest.

In the first book, anyone not on the Red area of the political spectrum is going to be especially distressed at how the author treats President Obama. I won’t go into detail, but if you can’t handle reading an author portray one of the smartest presidents ever as an ice cream guzzling, narcissistic moron, then I recommend not reading the book. I was appalled, much as I was at the treatment of Hillary Clinton in another, similar series, so I skipped a few chapters. It was almost enough to make me stop reading, but I liked the rest of it enough to persevere. Thought I would throw out a trigger warning. There was no mention of the president and no snarking about his actions past the first book.

There are certain aspects that I enjoy in the post-apocalypse fiction buildup to The End. How does a protagonist, or in this case he and his entire family, prepare? How successful is their preparation? How does the author treat bad guys? Does the story have a diverse cast? Are there action sequences? Moral lessons? The build-up is essentially the whole first book, and I found it to be fascinating and fun (except for the Obama chapters).  In the series as a whole there is an interesting balance between Christian values versus dealing with real world difficulties using theft and killing of enemies. Sometimes the hypocrisy is annoying to the max, but other times, the author’s values completely align with my own. That push and pull is something I find entertaining even as I sometimes seethe and wish I could grab the author by the lapels and shake him. The biggest example of this is the treatment of women in the books. There are a lot of women. A lot. More than any other Military Post-Apocalypse Fiction I’ve read, and they run the gamut from brilliant teenagers to housewives to soldiers-in-training. I liked that a lot, but then came the author’s need to Lecture. Every single primary and secondary woman character must be “set straight” by a male authority figure at least twice, and for a few of them multiple times. The men are never in the wrong, by the way. Imagine how often I had heated, imaginary discussions with the author over that. I also disagree with his portrayal of all bad guys as human traffickers of the worst sort within seconds it seems of the end of the world. There are loads of attacks on women, none of them described in detail, but avoid this series if that is something that distresses you. 

Beyond having a large number of women in principle roles, there is an unusual diversity that is probably the most entertaining aspect to me. Not just racial and sexual diversity, but to a small extent cultural and neurodiversity. I mentioned brilliant teenagers. Here they’re treated like assets, and real people, not just eggheads to be used by the manly men who run this genre. There are a couple of honest to goodness sociopaths and they ended up being some of my favorite characters. The bad guys twirl their bad guy mustaches with great relish, and the good guys squash them with great aplomb. It’s simple minded of me, I know, but I do enjoy seeing a good squishing of a bad guy.

Every book has at least one action scene, leading up to the last several having all out battles. For the most part these are well written and if you enjoy such things – and I do – you will be entertained. Of course, with battle comes injury and death, and there are some really shocking deaths over the course of the twelve books. Despite there being, I kid you not, 137 names in the dramatis personae at the front of book 12 I didn’t have a problem keeping track of who was who, and becoming very fond of more than a couple of them. When I say, then, that the deaths were shocking, I’m not kidding.

Overall I recommend at least trying this series if you’re a fan of military post-apocalypse fiction. There are aspects that will make you want to rant and rave, but I found the rest of it to be entertaining enough to keep reading and actually enjoy for the most part. There is a huge cast that is surprisingly diverse and mostly treated well. There are no gray areas between right and wrong, and the author’s pet peeves emerge time and again. There’s a lot to hate and a lot to like, and if I ever decide to spend a week reading a series again, this might be the one.

CFR: In Addition: Hmmm…. This review makes me think “nope.” Thanks Mildred!

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