This was my first SOBs novel.  And at the time, I was simply interested in the premise.  Iran goes nuclear.  It was a pretty high-profile concern a few years ago, and has been simmering in the background ever since.  There was even a documentary made about it, Iranium.  With Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, an avowed “Twelver” as President of Iran, the likelihood of Iranian nukes soon being used against the US and Israel seemed to be pretty high.  So imagine my curiosity when I found out that an obscure, 1984 Gold Eagle pulp mercenary story had been written about just that: stopping Iran from launching a nuclear attack.

Somewhat to my surprise, it turned out to be a tight, fast-paced, actually reasonably realistic action story.  There isn’t a lot of intrigue involved; it’s mainly just getting the mission, getting in, doing the mission despite setbacks, and getting out.

Now, I’d read a couple of newer Stony Man titles before this, and immediately found that SOBs, rather than the “pseudo-SOF” setup of Stony Man, was a bit more on the grittier side of the spectrum.  While it’s not as evident as it turned out to be in the first book, travel and logistics being facilitated through the global underground was still very much a factor in The Plains of Fire.  The SOBs are supposed to be a dirty-tricks squad, deniably contracted by Walker Jessup, the mammoth CIA officer and “fixer” first introduced in Vietnam in The Barrabas Run.  While he gets the funding from an unnamed Senator (who appears to be getting set up to be a villain farther along in the series), all of the prep, insert, and extract has to be done under the radar.

The actual operation is fairly straightforward, with most of the obstacles simply being resistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, here mostly referred to by their Persian name, the Pasdaran.  The Iranian commander, Razod, does throw a bit of a wrench in the works, though I won’t say exactly how.  It’s not a twist that you won’t see coming, but the writer (Jack Hild on the cover, but Jack Hild was a house name who never actually existed; Alan Philipson actually wrote this one) does a good job of leveraging it as the fog of war making a relatively straightforward op far more complicated.

While everyone made it out of Africa in The Barrabas Run, the SOBs are not quite so lucky in this one.  While every Stony Man title I’ve read has had the same team of characters, it’s already evident this early in the series that nobody except maybe Barrabas himself is safe.

The gun porn this time around is far better than in The Barrabas Run.  None of the bizarre nonexistent firearms or calibers are present, though it might initially seem so; the Iranians are using HK 32 rifles.  On some research, while often considered to be a myth, there actually were some HK 32s, G3s chambered for 7.62×39, built.  The SOBs are carrying a combination of suppressed Uzis, XM-177s, M79s, and M21s.

Overall, it’s fast, furious, packed with action that never gets cartoony, and bears a striking resemblance in many ways to similar tales that might have been written only a couple of years ago, even though it’s 33 years old.

Soldiers of Barrabas #2 The Plains of Fire
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Peter Nealen

Peter Nealen is a former Reconnaissance Marine and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He deployed to Iraq in 2005-2006, and again in 2007, with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Recon Bn. After two years of schools and workups, including Scout/Sniper Basic and Team Leader's Courses, he deployed to Afghanistan with 4th Platoon, Force Reconnaissance Company, I MEF. Works by Peter include: The American Praetorians Series Task Force Desperate (October 2012) - ebook , paperback and audiobook Hunting in the Shadows (June 2013) - ebook and paperback Alone and Unafraid (August 2014) - ebook and paperback The Devil You Don't Know (June 2015) - ebook and paperback Lex Talionis (June 2017) - ebook and paperback The Jed Horn Series A Silver Cross and a Winchester (October 2013) - ebook and paperback Nightmares (January 2015)- ebook and paperback The Walker on the Hills (December 2015) - ebook and paperback Older and Fouler Things (September 2017) - ebook and paperback The Brannigan's Blackhearts Series/Universe Kill Yuan (Spring 2016) - ebook and paperback Fury in the Gulf (November 2017) - ebook and paperback Burmese Crossfire (January 2018) - ebook and paperback Enemy Unidentified (March 2018) - ebook and paperback Frozen Conflict (May 2018) - ebook and paperback High Desert Vengeance (August 2018) - ebook and paperback Doctors of Death (December 2018) - ebook and paperback The Unity Wars Series (P.L. Nealen) The Fall of Valdek (July 2018) - ebook and paperback The Defense of Provenia (August 2018) - ebook and paperback The Alliance Rises (September 2018) - ebook and paperback Short Stories Rock Meet Hard Place (Part I) - Baen Books Blog Non-Fiction Operation Redwings: The Rescue Story Behind Lone Survivor (December 2013) - ebook only The ISIS Solution: How Unconventional Thinking and Special Operations Can Eliminate Radical Islam (SOFREP) (November 2014) - ebook only

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