Several days ago while doing some rethinking on my plan for this blog I asked a question in the GrimDark Fiction Readers and Writers group. A question that I thought would lead to some humor and laughs and a warning for others. I asked “What is the worst genre fiction novel that you have ever read?” Most gave me answers that I expected. Eragon, The Sword of Truth, and the like. But I was not prepared. I did not know that this question was my own personal puzzle box until the first and chief cenobite of my suffering appeared in the thread. CT Phipps – my Pinhead – brought to my attention John Ringo’s Ghost and I will never be the same.
Let me introduce you to Ghost. It is a 3 set of techno-thriller (though it left out the thriller part) novellas concerning the adventures of retired Navy Seal Michael “Ghost” Harmon. He is Super Seal Man and standard bearer of all things conservative. Here to shoot raghead muslims, fuck hot bitches, and say whatever racist or misogynistic thing currently rattling around Ringo’s syphilitic brain. Let me give you a proper unbiased intro to the “hero” of this series.
“He knew that at heart, he was a rapist. And that meant he hated rapists more than any “normal” human being. They purely pissed him off. He’d spent his entire sexually adult life fighting the urge to not use his inconsiderable strength to possess and take instead of woo and cajole. He’d fought his demons to a standstill again and again when it would have been so easy to give in. He’d had one truly screwed up bitch get completely naked, with him naked and erect between her legs, and she still couldn’t say “yes.” And he’d just said: “that’s okay” and walked away with an amazing case of blue balls. When men gave in to that dark side, it made him even more angry then listening to leftist bitches scream about “western civilization” and how it was so fucked up.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the “hero”. A man who spends at least the first novella around traumatized naked women lamenting his refusal to rape them. A man who regularly says this to women who have just watched on of their friends be raped, tortured, and murdered – and the women don’t fucking care! He is too star spanglingly awesome for them to care.
Fuck. This is not a book. This is what a Trump supporter dreams about when he falls asleep masturbating to Die Hard. It is a congealed mess born of racism, sexism, and partisan politics. Disdain for all things Middle Eastern mixes with a bewildering variety of sexist comments and occasionally it all just stops to take potshots at liberals. There is even multiple attacks on the main stream media – except for Fox of course. All of this coming from the most ‘Merican main character ever written.
I will piss on John Ringo’s grave. Also I think he may just be Sean Hannity’s pseudonym.
Enough of my free floating hostility. Let me share my pain with you in great detail. This review concerns the first novella of Ghost called Winter Born. Because of course the ultra Right Wing Action Thriller should be named after a song from a goth dark synthpop song. Seems legit. The story is the kind of jumbled mess you normally only get from Info Wars. Let me put this down and see if this makes any sense outside the fever dreams of the Islamaphobic.
Osama Bin Laden and Basser Assad – who is the President of Syria and either a misspelling of Bashar Assad or an expy to avoid legal issues on Ringo’s part – sending terrorists to kidnap 50 American women. Who are all white, early 20’s, and distractingly attractive. Why do they do this? So that they can broadcast the rape, torture, and murder of each girl over a two hour period to mock the US’ 100 Hour War in Iraq because this will break America forever. Somehow. Oh and where do they do this? In a secret WMD production facility run by a Russian doctor and built by Germans.
Navy Seal Michael “Brock Turner” Harmon gets involved by witnessing one of the abductions while he was stalking college girls. Saves her, makes a shit ton of sexist comments, and then secretes himself in the wheelbarrow of a 727 for about a day. So he suffers from the bends twice with degenerated joints and then hits the ground running to kill some terrorists, save some naked traumatized women, and call in the calvary by contacting Fox News.
Fuck me sideways. This is pain and suffering. I have almost died twice this year, I have ripped my thigh muscle in half, and I have dislocated damn near everything a man can – and this is still the most painful thing I have ever pushed through. The others are just physical. These words are burned into the very fabric of my brain. So let’s just go through chapter by chapter point by point.
Osama Bin Laden decides to strike at the Great Satan’s greatest weakness – the love of it’s whores. As nuanced and gripping a depiction of terrorists as you will see this side of Breitbart. I downed a shot of whiskey after reading it.
Chapter 1 – Enter the Rapist Wannabe
Two fucking pages of bitching about liberal college culture to bitching and moaning about wanting to rape the women around him but not allowing himself while he creeps on everything that walks …as long as the woman is white and attractive because I am not sure non-white women exist in Ringo’s world. And by creep he watches, stalks, and sometimes scares the women on purpose when they are walking home alone. He is the fucking hero of the story and he is treated as a hero in the story. He even calls the women he spots quarry.
John Ringo there is no curse in any language spoken or dead to convey the hatred I have for you after reading this.
The rest of the chapter is Michael witnessing his quarry being snatched, implausibly chasing down the kidnappers with his 50% disabled body, killing a guard with a move Assassin’s Creed would call bullshit on while using the world’s quietest gun. It’s blandly written with no sense of tension save for the rage building inside you as follow the adventures of Rapey Rambo.
Chapter 2 – Author Compensation
Oh look! Terrorists planning on raping women. Classy. The word whore is used for time number holy fucking shit what is wrong with you, John Ringo. It will not be going away any time soon either.
Here we get John Ringo’s attempt at action. It is all the worst sins of movie action boiled into a writing style. It jump cuts between points of view to present a muddied incoherent narrative like the author watch the Transformers movies and screamed “Yes!” while masturbating furiously. The action is either described clinically or in video game esque levels of excitement. None of it has the slightest hint of tension nor a single solitary reason to root for either side beyond Harmon being the ‘Merican. Oh and John Ringo tosses in a lot of military terms and pseudo terms to try and ground this bullshit. It doesn’t work.
And after pages of slow, interminable combat what do we get? A torture scene complete with racism, a shout out to Fox News, and sexist shut down of a woman who had been beaten and kidnapped. But he did take the time to tell her to blow him if she ever saw him again (she agreed to this) and then gave her a speech about not letting this throw her off men because the good guys need to get laid too. So… there’s that.
Chapter 3 – 3 Parts Bullshit
One part Michael tracking a plane down and then stowing away in the nose wheel assembly but he has a thermal blanket and aspirin to stave off anoxia and the bends.
One part an FBI Agent and crew marveling at the carnage left in the wake of the Manliest Rampage while talking to the woman Harmon rescued in the last chapter.
One part President Conservative McRepublican being briefed on the situation, more people praising Michael’s rampage, and finished with a rant about ragheads and the Islam.
Put those 3 parts together and what do you get? About 6 seconds of plot and a lot of wank over how awesome Michael is. Fucking brilliant.
Chapter 4 – The Fappening
An entire chapter dedicated to all the characters just cranking it as hard as they can to how fucking amazing the Rapey McBlueballs is. Seriously. Just an entire chapter of conversations about Michael with about 3 paragraphs of anything related to the plot. It is pure masturbatory fanservice for military fetishists who’s foreplay involves rattling off listings of theaters of war.
Chapter 5 – 3 Parts Bullshit Part 2: Electric Boogaloo
One part Michael suffering the bends with degenerated joints that is an issue for approximately 3 paragraphs and never impacts a single fucking thing. The rest of his scene is supposedly an infiltration but is actually a rambling diatribe about how arabs can’t make quality goods and how American goods are far superior. Grade A immersive writing. Really ratchets up the tension.
Part 2 and 3 are literally just different government officials bagging on liberals and mainstream media. No plot progression or character development. Just attacks on liberal Straw Men. If the word libtard or snowflake had been used I would not have been surprised.
Chapter 6 – The Shopping Trip
More infiltration/quality of work bs, an infodump for Michael to learn where he is, and then him rummaging through a store room. Lots of listing of ammo, guns, and equipment. Thrilling stuff.
Chapter 7 – This Should Have Been 3 Chapters
We meet the only two women the story even pays attention to. Amy – a good Conservative girl – and Britney – the doubting liberal girl. Not sure why Ringo bothers telling us their names because The World’s Most Frustrated Rapist won’t ever use them. Oh and they take time when waking up naked in a foreign country held by armed men to have a short conversation about politics.
More cut away towards the calvary getting ready to come. They are basically fratboy douchebags in military uniforms. Cut away to the President reiterating for the fourth time about how he doesn’t care who is in his way he will get those women back even if he has to overthrow Syria to do it. It reads like the worst kind of propagandist bullshit. What John Ringo knows of politics and the international stage subtracts from the whole of human knowledge.
But finally the full plan gets explain by a bunch of rapey terrorists to a room full of fifty naked women. Rape, torture, and kill one of them every two hours live on the internet till… nothing. That’s it. The whole fucking plan is this. Kill-Rape-Torture Girls Online + _________ = Win for Al-Quaeda.
The last part is Michael seeing Bin Laden arrive, infiltrating further, finding chemical weapons, going through 3 different sets of clothing, killing more random nameless people, and generally being generic blandly written but there is one thing in here that fucking threw me. There is a massive paragraph where Michael goes on and on about the personal space habits and walking mannerisms of different cultures that culminates with the bizarre assertion that these traits always made it seem that Arab males were coming onto American males. It’s really fucking weird. Like what the fuck. I have never thought an Arabic guy was hitting on me …except for the one time I was at the gay bar and he was quite literally hitting on me. He liked my hair. I let him braid it. Nice guy. Where was I again? Oh yeah.
Chapter 8 – The American Dream
Michael gets turned on watching them rape and torture one of the girls and then kills the President of Syria and Osama Bin Laden with mustard gas. There is more after that but do you need to know anymore after that particular Patriotic jerkjob?
Chapter 9 – 49 Naked Women and a Douchebag
Care to guess what Michael does in this chapter? Did you say kill terrorists, make rapey comments, and talk down to women? Congratulations! You win a cookie. Not one of mine. You have to buy because I need mine to eat myself into a diabetic coma to erase the pain this book has caused me.
Wonderful heroic traits pop up here. He makes repeated rapey comments, gives the girls cute demeaning nicknames like Bambi and Thumper, and no one – neither him nor the heavily traumatized girls – make an attempt to cover themselves with any of the clothes from the multiple dead soldiers. No one even suggests it. Seems realistic for the group of women who just watched two of their number be raped and tortured with one killed in front of their eyes.
Chapter 10 – Action Wank
Boom, gunshot, bouncing titties, women (who have just watched friends be raped) being hella okay with Michael admitting he wants to rape them, tough guy shouldering on threw multiple gunshot wounds, lots of sexism, and a big shout out to Fox News to finish out the chapter. Time well spent.
Chapter 11 – Fox News To The Rescue
Fox News broadcasts footage of naked traumatized girls on live tv and is praised. Pot shots at liberals. One of the girls affirming passionately her newfound conservatism on live tv while nude. More Seals acting like fratboy douchebags. John Ringo is truly a master of pacing and building tension with a nuanced touch on politics.
Chapter 12 – Bambi and Thumper Paramedic Division
This is what passes for a real interaction for John Ringo. Tough guy admitted would be rapist bleeding on the floor telling two women who’s name he refuses to use in lieu of his stripper nicknames how to patch him up broken up by the calvary arriving in a massively incoherent, military jargon filled Halo jump. Oh and then the arriving Seal Team spends a shit ton of time ogling the naked girls.
Chapter 13 – More Seal Oggling
Oh praise for Michael’s rampage… I haven’t read that before. Lots more Seals oggling the girls. There is even a big speech about it. As per usual from someone like Ringo the men have no self control and have to look because it’s nature. The girl’s response? To hug and kiss the Seals because there is nothing rape survivors love more than to grind nude against strange, heavily armed men.
And one of the Seals shows Bin Laden’s head to the President over the internet. That’s a thing that fucking happened.
Oh and speech number two in the book about not letting rapists ruin the women’s outlook on men because the good guys will still save them but they won’t be happy because they can’t get laid.
Fuck you, John Ringo.
Oh and they all get rescued though the Seals do get clothes for the girl while Michael fights for his life because he doesn’t understand the concept of cover or that blood should remain inside your body.
Chapter 14 – The Wrap Up
Let’s make this quick because I need a fucking drink after this shit. They nuke the base after everyone is extracted, Michael is given 30 million dollars for his ‘Merican-ness and goes into Witness Protection (ish), and he immediately breaks his new dead status to go hook up with the now firmly Conservative survivors of the girls.
Hell holds no more horrors for me.
And if you’ve come this far you can read the reviews and books of my personal cenobite CT Phipps over on his website (linked below). He does good work and was very cool to me when my health was very rocky. Check him out. You won’t regret it. Everything he does is better than anything John Ringo will ever do.
I should note that I became aware of the Paladin of Shadows books while looking for successful War on Terror stories that I could use as research for a planned series of supernaturals vs. spies (that eventually became my Agent G and Esoterrorism series). A “friend” (now viewed as an aquaintance) recommended me these books and I realized my own interpretation of the world was as far different from his as mine to a Martian’s. Great review Eric Woods and I hope you can read something less nightmarish next time.
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I hope so too!