March 6, 2004
MarkBernstein.org
 

Retreat Hell

Retreat, Hell!
W.E.B. Griffin

The weakest volume of Griffin's series on The Corp, this is our second trip to Korea. The novel is set between Inchon and Chosin, and for some reason there's not much happening. Griffin normally excels at times like these -- he's best at describing soldiers at rest, and (like Patrick O'Brian) he often skips over the battles and ceremonies in order to show the prelude and aftermath. Here, McCoy and Zimmerman run around the boondocks, Fleming Pickering spends lots of time on large airplanes, and Pick is a pain in the ass.

Griffin always explains all the backstories, and the accretion of plot summaries of previous books drags later volumes in each series down. I sympathize: Griffin's point, in the end, is to explore how the choice of a moment shapes a career. But he desperately needed an editor, early on, who could have taught him to say by repeating less; he'd also sell more copies of the earlier volumes.