This review appears at onlinebookclub.org
Standing the Final Watch is the debut novel by William Alan Webb, and is the first book in the Last Brigade series. This book is best described as a speculative military techno-thriller (I’ll let you, the reader, fit that into whichever genre you deem appropriate). When I initially spoke with Mr. Webb, he described to me a futuristic Clancy-esque thriller with shades of Mark Greaney; I admit to being both interested and skeptical, as I am an avid fan of both of these authors. Little did Mr. Webb know that he had set himself to a very high standard!! However, I soon found out that William Webb is a talented author with a surprisingly original premise, and I walked away ready for a sequel.
Standing the Final Watch transpires after the collapse of the United States. Most of the land is under caliphate rule, and Western culture has practically ceased to exist. Enter the Seventh Cavalry Brigade, a group of elite soldiers recently awakened after a fifty-year cryogenic sleep; the group’s mission is simple: take back the United States. Commanded by legendary general Nick Angriff, this last remnant of the world’s mightiest military has been tasked not only with the subjugation of all enemies of the former United States, but also with eliminating any leftovers from the corrupt political system that led to the downfall of the country. How, though, do you fight an enemy that’s fifty years ahead of you? How do you handle the knowledge that the entirety of what was once the United States military exists in a secret base in the side of a mountain? And how do you know that the company you keep is dedicated to the same mission you are? General Angriff is prepared for the fight, but he’s also aware that not all are as loyal as they seem…
I’ll say right here that Standing the Final Watch is excellent. I was fully prepared to “take it easy” on Mr. Webb’s debut storytelling attempt, but there’s no need. The book has been finely edited; the story is cohesive and keeps moving; and the dialogue is spot on. If you’re any fan of the aforementioned Clancy or Greaney, even James Rollins or Clive Cussler, you’re going to enjoy this book. There’s just enough sci-fi to create an intelligent “What if?” scenario, and there are twists and turns enough that it’s impossible to get bored. I couldn’t put the book down, and honestly, I didn’t really want to.
Mr. Webb’s attention to detail is probably this book’s strongest selling point. I can’t give any spoilers, but I will say that a large-scale covert operation does come with its share of unintended consequences. Also, Mr. Webb succinctly and deliberately deals with the issue of modern-day soldiers suddenly being thrust half a century into the future. Webb’s ability to answer questions and handle opportunities as they arise makes the story more compelling and believable. This, to me, is the mark of a great storyteller in the making.
There is, however, one potential negative. This story is told from a staunchly conservative point of view. I understand that every writer has a bias, but most tend to keep personal feelings subtle or subdued. Mr. Webb does not; Standing the Final Watch is a conservative manifesto. This fact did nothing to deter me from enjoying the story; however, some readers may find Webb’s writing to be too politically motivated or aggressive.
Standing the Final Watch gets a strong 4 out of 4 Stars from me. This story is just well-told and enjoyable. If you’re a fan of James Bond or Jack Ryan or Dirk Pitt, you’re going to love Nick Angriff. I am anxiously awaiting Last Brigade Book 2, and I look forward to seeing where Mr. Webb takes this story.