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    Darkest Star Games

    Bears Claws

    Review by Darby Eckles

    October 21, 2019


    The novel “The Bear’s Claws” is an enjoyable read, though not what I expected.  This is not a bad thing at all!  Knowing that one of the co-authors is a wargamer I had expected an account of a Cold-War-gone-hot with complicated TO&Es, boring detail of the differences between production versions of certain Soviet vehicles and perhaps even stiff and analytical troop movements and firefight descriptions.  What was written instead is an accessible story that follows a Russian brother and sister through two very different conflicts: one at the front lines and one on the homefront.

    Now, I am no expert on 80’s Soviet military nor civilian society, but it felt to me as though some of the situations and conversations presented felt sort of ‘westernized’, which left me feeling as though they did not ring completely true.  Though this may be due to my preconceptions of life in the Soviet era it did not detract from the story at all.  In fact, I feel the writing style made the story much more relateable by keeping out concepts or nuances of daily Soviet life that western readers could not understand, connect to nor feel compassion for.  This goes a long way to maintaining immersion for the reader and pushing the story along without breaks to explain foreign concepts that would normally bog things down.  It also makes the character feel more human, which in my opinion is a must if an author really wants the reader to care about the story at all.

    Likewise, some of the situations in the military portion of the story felt suspect.  I found one action in particular to be somewhat absurd (on the defender’s part) but also realize the point was to show the adaptability and capability of one of the main characters, as well as how his conscience functioned in his internal battle of wanting to care for his troops while also keeping to the demands of Higher Command and the mission.  For the most part the combat sequences flow very well, carrying the reader through the grit of the fight with flashing images of violence, fear, the tired satisfaction of brief victory as well as the hurt of friendly loses.  Again, the writing style keeps the story moving forwards without being bogged in minutia which helps keep the reader immersed within the flow.

    All in all I found “The Bear’s Claws” uncomplex and a good read, perfect for long train rides or a weekend away from home.


    *Reviewers note: this novel was received in hardcopy (softback) as a gift from the author.

    *wargamers note: the action within this novel does not have enough detail of the combatants to be used to create TO&Es, but does have a couple of good ideas for both scenario basis and the occasional random event.

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    Russell Phillips

    Thanks for the review. I’ll just add that the review copy was offered via the sponsor members’ forum. I’m sure Michael would be happy for more traders to offer things for review to sponsoring members.

    Military history author
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