Retrospective Look at Lethal Heritage

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Book One of the Blood of Kerensky Trilogy by Michael A. Stackpole

It’s hard to imagine the state of the BattleTech universe without the influence of Michael A. Stackpole’s work upon it. Back in the 90’s, my first BattleTech novel that I had picked up completely by sheer luck was indeed Stackpole’s “Lethal Heritage“. It was so good that I devoured it in a day and went back for the others in the series, and in the process started a lifelong love.

Given the influence of this series and book in particular, on the eve of its’ 25th year anniversary, it would be interesting to go back and take a quick retrospective look at the book.

Cover of 1995 reprint of Lethal Heritage

Wait, what do you mean that a Phoenix Hawk can’t take on a point of Elementals?

BASIC PLOTLINE

This book can be considered to be a good starter point into the BattleTech universe as, barring the first few pages that can cause puzzlement to a new reader into the series, starts from essentially a clean slate. Stackpole did a good job in setting up the in-universe powers that be and various key figures, giving the reader a decent foundation upon where to build from.

The book essentially starts with the stories of two scions of different realms, along with their loyal companions and another character that gives us an inside track on the main antagonists of the book. The scions fully expect that their respective differences have destined them to fight each other, but a massive invasion from technologically superior outside force, calling themselves The Clans, force them to ignore each other temporarily to combat this deadly threat.

CHARACTERS

The book revolves around several key characters, many that would have a tremendous influence on the fictional world of BattleTech for years to come, both in real life and in-universe. The main characters would revolve around Prince Victor Steiner-Davion, his cousin Phelan Kell, soldiers Kai Allard-Liao and Shin Yodama. With the exception of Shin Yodama, all of them are roughly the same age, completing their initial training as MechWarriors and being assigned to their initial service posts.

The character progression of these characters for the most part is interesting, with the plight of Phelan Kell in particular fascinating as it provides the reader with an inside-the-enemy-ranks look at these deadly foes. You do get a sense of their bewilderment at the main characters and their attempt to deal with events that are far beyond what they’ve been brought up to expect.

IMPACT OF THE BOOK ON THE BATTLETECH UNIVERSE

Although there have been some books written previously written in-universe, this was the first one that had taken a sweeping look at events happening simultaneously that had a far-reaching effect on events many years in the future. Thus, beyond providing a great starting point to the BattleTech universe, having a familiarity with the characters and events that happened in this book is key to understanding many of the following novels.

CONCLUSION

Beyond providing the foundation for many of the events in-universe, the book itself is a great science fiction romp with great descriptions of giant mecha battles and unexpected plot twists. This book is highly recommended.